UNTRAVELED air routes and undeveloped resources in the Arctic are now being thought of as valuable for the future, even the near future. For this, Mr. Stefansson is perhaps more responsible than any other one individual. That the French, in 1763, gave up Canada rather than Guadaloupe to the British, who accepted the former instead of the latter with hesitating reluctance, and that the judgment of Seward regarding Alaska had to wait a generation or so for its vindication, have been some of the effective historical arguments of the practical explorer, who is so often deemed merely a prejudiced dreamer.
The area of the earth's surface north of the Arctic Circle (66° 30′, as usually drawn; strictly it is 66° 31 ⅔′) comprises over eight million square miles. What States have sovereignty over this vast region? To what countries are we to assign the known and the unknown?
Let us think of the Arctic as in part known land, in part known sea and in part unexplored, and thus let us look at it on the accompanying map. This map, like most maps of the Arctic, looks "queer." It seems different from maps of regions with which we are more familiar. The reason is at once simple and perplexing. It is common learning that every ordinary map of any considerable portion of the earth is necessarily at best only an approximation of correctness, because it is a flat picture of the convex surface of an oblate spheroid; and an accurate flat picture of a convex surface is impossible. Then, too, on the usual map of the United States, for example, we draw parallels of latitude. We know that these imaginary lines of latitude run around the world; but on such a map they are drawn as straight, or perhaps as slightly curved lines, going from one side of the sheet to the other. But on the Polar map these same straight or slightly curved lines of latitude become circles around a central north; and it is
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