The Polar Regions in Their Relation to Human Affairs

The Polar Regions in Their Relation to Human Affairs

The Polar Regions in Their Relation to Human Affairs

The Polar Regions in Their Relation to Human Affairs

Excerpt

Members and Guests of the American Geographical Society, I am honored by and grateful for the invitation to give the Isaiah Bowman Lecture on a subject which I am sure would have pleased Dr. Bowman. I am honored because of my admiration for the American Geographical Society and its achievements and grateful because of the debt I owe to Isaiah Bowman for the unending stimulation of a long and faithful friendship.

The north and south polar regions are distinguished by their dissimilarities rather than by any common characteristics; therefore they are best understood in terms of their contrasts. Indeed, I can think of but one worthwhile generalization that applies to both, namely, that both will play more and more important roles in human affairs as the world becomes more crowded and man's mobility increases.

Isaiah Bowman once said that the Arctic is a hollow and the Antarctic a hump, referring to the oceanic character of the Arctic and the continental character of the Antarctic. Antarctica, the highest and coldest of all the continents, is the world's greatest desert and the only continent which has never been the home of man, whereas the lands that fringe the Arctic exhibit more than four hundred species of flowering plants and a fauna which with the life of the sea supports a sturdy native population.

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