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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/689

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THE BERING SEA CONTROVERSY.

is admitted in the concluding statement—“an inconsiderable return.” This means simply that the herd has ceased to be a commercial factor, and henceforth under present conditions sealing, whether on land or at sea, must be conducted at a loss.

This has an important bearing upon the suggested impossibility of bringing about the extinction of the species. It all depends upon whether present conditions are maintained. The breeding islands and the sixty-mile protected zone must be guarded. It cost the United States $175,000 for patrol in 1896. England's expense was less, but still considerable. It is beyond reason that this expensive protection should be continued at a loss or without hope of ultimate restoration of the herd. Remove the protection for a single season and the herd would be practically exterminated. A scattered remnant would doubtless escape to maintain a melancholy equilibrium, or perhaps to recuperate and again attract the cupidity of some adventurous sealing captain, but the herd as such would be at an end.

Stated without reference to diplomatic necessities, this concluding paragraph admits two important things: first, that the herd of fur seals resorting to the Pribilof Islands is commercially ruined; second, that its extinction as a species only awaits the abandonment of certain arduous and costly measures of protection now maintained solely in the hope of more adequate protection and the ultimate restoration of the herd.

Such was the work of the Conference of Fur-Seal Experts of 1897. The handwriting of diplomacy is mingled with that of science in its findings, but the resulting obscurity affects only minor matters. The important issues of the vexatious Bering Sea controversy are squarely met and finally settled. It is needless to say that there no longer exists a fur-seal question. It is merely a question of how to get rid of the destructive agency of pelagic sealing. This is a matter for diplomacy to adjust. Any odium which may have attached to the “man of science” as a result of the failure of the meeting of 1892 is effectually wiped out, and if the lesson is read aright by the nations, henceforth the scientific expert must be counted an essential factor in the settlement of governmental disputes.

 


 
In a paper on the industrial applications of electro-chemistry, Mr. Thomas Ewan points out as among those that may yet be developed, that it is possible, by compressing sulphur dioxide and air into separate carbon tubes dipping in sulphuric acid, to cause the two gases to combine to form sulphuric acid, and at the same time furnish an electric current. “The alluring prospect,” he says, “of obtaining electric energy as a by-product in a chemical works should be a sufficient incentive to efforts to overcome the numerous difficulties in the way.”