The Outward Course of Empire
The Hard, Cold Lessons from Euro-American Involvement
In the late 1800s and the early part of the 20th century, American explorers had a vision of the polar regions as a logical extension of Manifest Destiny. Vilhjaimur Stefansson, however, had a different viewpoint, referring to the entreé into the Arctic by Euro-Americans as "the northward course of empire." Popular history would have it seem as if this vision came true. But, approximately 100 years later, we substantially fall short of these explorers' dreams. Most American claims in the Arctic fell through, not from lack of interest by average Americans, but the lack of government sponsorship, backing, and going back on promises made. Even the purchase of Alaska from Imperial Russia was a transaction that was almost not made. In expedition after expedition, men, women, and children died in the field waiting for pick-up from ships that would never come.
Ironically, what interest there was for the Arctic eclipsed a promising beginning of interest in the Antarctic. American explorers either had to pass themselves off as foreign nationals to join the expeditions of other countries or use their own money to launch expeditions to the southern continent. Interest in aviation caused the government to establish the United States Antarctic Service (USAS) and bases were established to protect territorial claims. However, the onset of World War II drew resources away and the bases were closed, and when the United States returned to Antarctica, it was with a different strategy of scientific investigation. In 1959, twelve nations signed the Antarctic Treaty, agreed to use Antarctica for peaceful purposes, "froze" territorial claims, and forbade new ones. The Antarctic Treaty set the tone for similar agreements among nations which dictated similar use of the entire Cosmos.
This presentation points out that the two polar regions represent two separate kinds of human progress, and reviews lessons from Euro-American polar exploration useful to the private Mars initiative, making recommendations for the public outreach and financing of the venture.
The polar regions have had a way of luring people out of a temperate-zone mentality and bringing nations into conflict and cooperation.
In the late 1800s and the early part of the 20th century, American explorers and their supporters had a vision of the polar regions as a logical extension of Manifest Destiny. Broadly speaking, Manifest Destiny meant that Americans were a chosen people ordained by God to create a model society. Specifically, it referred to a conceptualization of American expansionists to extend the boundaries of the United States from the Atlantic to the Pacific; and later, it was used to annex a number of territories and to justify involvement in Mexico, Cuba, and the Philippines (Encyclopedia Britannica 1979, p. 567). So confident that Manifest Destiny would legitimize their activities, Euro-American gold prospectors, trappers, and hunters entered Siberia from Alaska in search of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Following their own expansionist policies, Russians moving eastward stumbled over these Yankees and their influence on many occasions. Russian explorer Innokenty P. Tolmachoff came upon an American prospector and trader, a Mr. Wall, living at Serdze-Kamen Cape on the northern shore of Anadyr Bay, married to a Chukchi woman, during his Siberian expedition of 1909. A number of Chukchi in this area could speak English fairly well, too (Tolmachoff 1949, pp. 208-209).
Awareness of lands to the south of Magellan Strait seems to have emerged in the 1500s, and by the 19th century, Dutch, Portuguese, French, British, Russian, American, Belgian, German, and Norwegian ships were making exploratory, scientific, whaling, fishing, and sealing voyages to Antarctica. The early 20th century brought a number of heroic interior and aviation explorations of the continent. Territorial claims by several nations were made or implied. Although Germany never made any claim over Antarctic territories, it mapped Antarctica extensively by air in 1938-1939 and used the subantarctic Iles de Kerguelen as bases for resupply during World War II. German ships based there destroyed approximately 193,000 tons of allied ships (Mericq 1987, p. 68). The prospects of aviation and the military significance of Antarctica caused the American government to establish the United States Antarctic Service (USAS) and bases were established to protect territorial claims. The military significance of Antarctica is this: "Control of Antarctica allows a tie between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and improves the potential logistic support by air and maritime forces (P. 45)."
Ironically, what interest there was for the Arctic eclipsed a promising beginning of interest in the Antarctic. American explorers either had to pass themselves off as foreign nationals to join the expeditions of other countries or use their own money to launch expeditions to the southern continent. American James P. Shetland was on the 1821 voyage of Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen who served Czar Alexander I of Russia and who made it south to the islands which bear his name (p. 7). In 1823, the American Nathaniel B. Palmer in the company of a British crew hunting sea lions discovered the South Orkney Islands (p. 7).
Using the Arctic as an example, Vilhjalmur Stefansson called the Euro-American expansion into the circumpolar world, "the northward course of empire" (Stefansson 1922). The concept of this northward course of empire is part of a larger idea. This larger idea conceives of human progress continually moving away from tropical and temperate-zoned lands. (It is also called "the coldward course of progress".) Stefansson saw the Arctic as one of the new cradles of civilization for humankind. Other authors voiced similar-sounding sentiments in the titles of their books about northern lands: The Path of Empire (George Lynch 1903), Lost Empire (Hector Chevigny 1944), Quest for Empire (Kyva Petrovskaya Wayne 1986). But, they were only depicting Manifest Destiny or the Russian version of it. Stefansson and his antecedents were talking about something else: the breachment of humanity from its lands of origin, and with that, the common use of the Arctic for humanity.
Euro-American efforts in the Arctic seem to have taken after the model of Manifest Destiny, however, than after the "coldward or northward course of progress." Manifest Destiny operated in spite of lack of national commitment to foresight and the future and the politics of the moment, which often translated out into the lack of government sponsorship and backing. Where sponsorship and backing were evident, promises and effort often did not come through. For example, even when the United States had international competition and motives to acquire polar lands, it tended to put its best interests on the back burner. The Alaska Purchase was a case in point. Alaska is an enormously rich and strategic country which was appreciated by a number of 19th century American statesmen and a good portion of the public. A number of presidents prior to the Andrew Johnson administration had considered the purchase of Alaska from Imperial Russia. The stated reasons were many: (1) the profitability of the fisheries of the Pacific Coast; (2) resistance to the occupation of the Northwest Coast by another nation, such as Britain; (3) the establishment of the United States as a Pacific power; (4) to annex British Columbia; (5) to secure unlimited American commerce with China and Japan; and (6) a feeling of friendship for Russia by the United States (Shiels 1967, pp.1-3). The issue went back and forth till the Johnson Administration. When the principals in the second largest land deal in history finally transacted the Treaty of Cession on March 30, 1867, there was much difficulty with the American payment of $7,200,000. The 19th century version of insufficient funds occurred—in other words, the American check bounced twice. Following the October 18, 1867 formal ceremony turning over Alaska to America, undisciplined American troops abused the Russian citizenry so badly that most returned home (Cohen 1996, p. 48). All those who stayed or came into Alaska from then on out "complained bitterly about the inefficient and often corrupt Army rule (p. 52)." In 1877, troops in Alaska were pulled out to deal with a rebellion of Nez Perces in Idaho and Montana (p. 51). Although Alaskans were happy about that, they were left unprotected and with no police to enforce any law and order. The street fighting in Sitka, the colonial capitol, and strife between whites and Tlingit got so bad that the British warship Osprey steamed into Sitka harbor on March 1, 1879 and turned its guns on the Tlingit village near Sitka. The captain announced that he was staying until the U.S. government did something about protecting its own citizens (pp. 52-53).
The Lady Franklin Bay Expedition in the Eastern Arctic was organized in response to an international polar science project. Officially mandated, it was shabbily put in motion because of Congressional and military mis-coordination. When the expedition got in trouble owing to the humbling of the pick-up ships under the command of the U.S. Navy, the government simply abandoned 25 healthy expeditioners. As a result, only seven men survived, and Commander Adolphus Greeley has gone down in popular history with the "bum rap" of being an incompetent leader. Digging into the facts of the expedition, however, one finds that it was the efforts of Greeley's wife, who through much networking and private means, got a bounty imposed among international naval, whaling, and trading vessels for the rescue of the party. Without her effort, there would have been no survivors. Fort Conger, the scientific and military post established by Greeley in the Eastern Arctic, does not seem to be ever again used by Americans until Peary and Henson used it for an emergency stopover in the early 20th century.
The Wrangel Island debacle is similarly tragic. And, it is a matter whose issues extended into the latter half of the 20th century. Stefansson had already embraced the concept of "northward course of empire" by the time he organized the Wrangel Island colonizing expedition of 1921. Wrangel is a sizeable island lying about 90 miles off of Cape Jakan off the Chukchi Peninsula and not far from the northwest coast of Alaska. Stefansson launched the Wrangel Island Expedition for several reasons: 1) as part of a continuing campaign to debunk the extreme image of uniform hostility of Arctic regions which was popularly held; 2) because at the time a million square miles of the north polar region was still unexplored; and 3) for a stopover or the fledgling air transport industry (Stefansson 1925, pp. 69-72). However, to attract funding for the expedition, he advanced Manifest Destiny arguments rather than the more intellectual and social evolutionary "northward course of empire" credo.
Wrangel Island was known by Native peoples of the Arctic and was a waypoint on the proto-historic route to Point Hope, Alaska, an early center of Arctic civilization. Native informants told explorer Lieutenant Ferdinand Wrangel the approximate location of the island. Wrangel, in the employ of Imperial Russia, testing the theory of a high northern continent, never actually saw the island. It was the British who found it looking for Sir John Franklin's lost expedition in 1849. At that time, it was taken possession of in the name of Queen Victoria (Stefansson 1925, p. 18), but promptly neglected by the British for the next 32 years. Then, in 1881, an American expeditionary team landed on the island (p. 12), constituting an American claim, particularly in light of the Treaty of Cession which fixed one boundary of the Purchase of Alaska as "to the Frozen Sea." (Wrangel Island lies within the semi-permanent pack ice.) However, by the end of 1916, the Russian ambassador in London had given notice to the United States that territories and islands situated in the Arctic Ocean and discovered by a 1911 visit by Russian icebreakers were being claimed by Russia. Wrangel Island, however, was not specifically named (p. 22).
Stefansson sought funds from Britain and Canada on the basis of their claim of the island. Funds and support promised to him by those countries fell through because of interminable political dickering, the competing claims of the four nations involved, and by the momentum of world events. The poorly stocked expedition failed in the face of a period of scarce game on the island. By the time a proper rescue could be mounted, only one survivor remained of the Wrangel Island Expedition. It was only through a private network that Stefansson raised enough funds to retrieve the lone survivor (pp. 157-169) and send replacements to the colony. Two families and three bachelors from Alaska were recruited to occupy Wrangel Island (Webb 1981, pp. 85-87). Great Britain and Canada remained disinterested in pursuing their claim on the island in the meantime. Financially at the end of his rope, Stefansson sold his property and improvements on Wrangel Island to Carl Lomen of Nome, who headed the largest reindeer industry in the United States (pp. 89-90). Lomen traveled to Washington, D.C. to consult with the Secretary of State on his plan to reinforce the United States' claim on the island. Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes essentially told him to "go and hold it" (p. 91). Shortly thereafter, the British renounced their claim on Wrangel Island and the Soviets sent an armed vessel Red October, to the island "to imprison all inhabitants, confiscate all goods and furs, and establish Russian ownership of the island (p. 92)." Once there, while the officers of the Red October confiscated the colonists' four gunny sacks of skins and ivory for the Soviet Union, they failed to mention to them that they were under arrest. In fact, they were treated courteously and told they would be returned to Alaska (pp. 94-95). That was not the case, however. They were taken to Vladivostok in the middle of November 1924. The Eskimo members of the colony were permitted to work. The health of the one white man, bachelor Charles Wells, however, began to fail and he had to be supported by a friendly Soviet official and an American trader with a permit to do business in Siberia (pp. 96-97). One of the children died while the Americans and Soviets dickered over the Russia-America boundary referred to in the Alaska Purchase's Treaty of Cession (p. 97). Hampering negotiations was the fact that the U.S. did not then recognize the Soviet Union and had no direct diplomatic relations with them (p. 99).
When it was found that the cost of transporting the colonists from Vladivostok to Seattle would cost $1,600, Secretary of State Hughes told Carl Lomen that the State Department had no funds available for their relief or transportation (p. 98). When Lomen pointed out that the Eskimos were wards of the United States, the State Department backpedaled from Secretary Hughes' earlier stand, saying that the United States "at no time asserted a claim to Wrangel Island" and that the Lomens should have foreseen complications (p. 98). Both Lomen and Hughes appealed to the American Red Cross for help (p. 99). The Soviets next ordered the colonists to leave Siberia for Harbin. By this time, Charles Wells was ill with pneumonia and could not travel. In crossing the border into China, the American Consulate Officer there told Chinese officials that the Eskimos were not American citizens which led to their being detained in a hotel (p. 99). Another child died in detention. Back in Vladivostok, the Soviets sent word to the Americans that Wells would not be allowed to leave until the United States apologized for a boundary marker placed on the Siberian coast by a United States Coast and Geodetic Survey ship. No apology needed tendering because Wells died three days later on 8 January 1925 (p. 100). On January 10th, the United States Secretary of the Interior acknowledged that the Eskimos were wards of the American government, but also voiced the claim that there were no funds available for their transportation. Finally, the American Red Cross broke down and advanced the money and the Eskimos were permitted passage on a Japanese steamer. In Seattle, waiting for transportation to Alaska, another child drowned (pp. 101-102). Carl Lomen and his family and friends continued to fight for the American claim of Wrangel Island and for reparations. The American and Russian dust-up over Wrangel Island did not abate until 1974 through the Mutual Protocol Agreement which permitted exchange of scientists, which allowed one American ornithologist to do fieldwork on Wrangel.
In Antarctica, World War II would draw resources away and the American bases were closed. However, the United States did not back away from the southern polar continent:
The United States is the chief architect of law and policy for the Antarctic. For over three decades the United States has exerted the political and diplomatic clout necessary to enhance and expand the legal regime governing the Antarctic continent and Southern Ocean. In fact, the legal basis for U.S. involvement in Antarctica stems from the 1959 Antarctic Treaty, an agreement originally called for and substantially forged by the United States (Joyner and Theis 1997, p. 1).
The Antarctic Treaty of 1959 stemmed from an American initiative (p. 1). Its central theme is the international preservation of the continent for scientific and peaceful purposes. It works along the line of consensus led by the duopoly of the United States and Russia (Peterson 1988, p. 212; Joyner and Theis 1997; Vicuna 1988; Suter 1991; Stokke and Vidas 1996; Jorgensen-Dahl and Ostreng 1991; Francioni and Scovazzi 1996; and Klotz 1990). The twelve nations which signed the Antarctic Treaty acknowledged that there were competing or potential claims among signators but that the Treaty would not settle these, but rather forbid any new ones. As one legal scholar has noted, "...it is no more than the grandest internationally agreed upon 'question begging' that diplomacy has devised (Haley 1963, p. 122)."
The International Geophysical Year of 1957-1958, a year of scientific research and cooperation, led to the Antarctic Treaty of 1959. It also led to the development of the law in space (Haley 1963). The model for the handling of sovereignty over celestial bodies is Antarctica (p. 121). On December 13, 1963, the General Assembly of the U.N. adopted an "Declaration of Legal Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space" which advocates exploration and use of outer space for the benefit and interests of all mankind; and declares that outer space and celestial bodies are not subject to national appropriation (Jenks 1965, pp. 317-318). When the United Nations Moon Treaty was up for ratification in the early 1980s, the United States backpedaled away from it and its language about lunar resources in terms of "the common heritage of mankind", a phrase found in Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) documents (Simpson 1982, p. 12). A stumblingblock appears to have been the issue of mineral resources, the same issue which has come up in international law concerning Antarctica in recent times (Vicuna 1988).
This notwithstanding, the ATS is a model of progress in human cooperation. Antarctica, its treaty system, and its precedent for the use of the Cosmos appears to be more in line with the model of the northward or coldward course of progress, in spite of its sticking points. The Manifest Destiny model of expansion in Antarctica was effectively nipped in the bud with the expense of World War II and the evolution of the Antarctic Treaty System itself.
Let us now return to the Arctic in its more modem incarnation. The futurist R. Buckminster Fuller's vision of the Arctic had the tenor of Stefansson's "northward course" ideas. Fuller saw the Arctic regions as a kind of world heartland where Arctic rivers could provide hydroelectric power for all of the planet (Fuller 1979). One has only to remember geopolitical theorist Halford MacKinder's maxim: "He who controls the heartland controls the world" to understand how Manifest Destiny proponents would view this. The Fuller vision has not come to pass.
In actual fact, the irony has been, the Manifest Destiny model accounts for the permanent human presence in the Arctic, and its lack of usage in the Antarctic goes a long way in explaining why there are no permanent Antarcticans. (This is not forgetting the relative proximity of overland routes to the Arctic from temperate-zoned centers of population and the lack of a thick ice cover except in Greenland, in contrast to Antarctica.) Everything being equal, there are a number of human features of the Arctic landscape missing from the Antarctic. A few are as follow. An overriding feature found in the Arctic is the presence of people who live and work there for other than scientific reasons. In Antarctica, with perhaps the exception of a couple of Argentine and Chilean bases, families do not make Antarctica their permanent address.
In the Arctic, military bases, installations, and submarine activity which have emerged during World War II and the Cold War have kept a third world war at bay. The Antarctic Treaty restricts a military presence in southern polar lands.
The Trans-Alaska Pipeline (TAPS), the largest construction project since the Panama Canal, keeps the United States from being held hostage by other oil-producing nations. Other countries having Arctic lands also exploit oil and gas there. In fact, Russian experts were consulted in the construction of the TAPS in Alaska and a lot of technology was invented on the spot as a result. Environmental activists also played a role by forcing pipeline builders into upper levels of technology to protect the Alaskan environment. In Antarctica, oil and gas exploration has just begun and is stymied by the ATS, as any mineral exploitation has been. Most authors writing about mineral exploitation in Antarctica cite technological problems anyway. But, the first hurdle is the ATS itself. It has been pointed out that a "third stage" of Antarctic development has dawned (Mericq 1987, p. 31), but no one seems to know how to proceed.
Highway systems crisscross many of the lands of the northern polar regions. The Alaskan-Canadian Highway (Al-Can) was built in response to Japanese encroachment in the Aleutians during World War II. In an effort to bring their transportation network into the 21st century, Alaskans have even been discussing building a bridge or tunnel over the Bering Strait, not an insurmountable piece of engineering which would bring economic relief to the people of Siberia, cause economic growth in Alaska, and change the world in a landmark way. Regular transportation networks are instrumental to human permanency. Antarctica is a land where no conventional roads are possible. Antarctic workers must depend on aircraft and over-the-ice vehicles for travel from station to station or fieldwork. Perhaps Antarctic tourism will introduce some kind of regular transportation network on the continent, but stauncher supporters of the ATS think that what tourism exists should be curtailed.
It is clear there are two disparate models of human progress operating in the two polar regions respectively. This dichotomy more or less tracks with the dichotomy of res nullius and res communes. Res nullius is a legal and political position which means that lands with no owner can be appropriated and subjected to national sovereignty and jurisdiction. Res communes is a legal and political term meaning "belonging to all", and not subject to appropriation and national sovereignty for any purpose, but subject to exploitation for the benefit of all humanity (Mericq, p. 58). I have identified, for the purposes of this paper, the dichotomy of Manifest Destiny vs. the northward or coldward course of empire. In the Arctic, Manifest Destiny seems to have played a role in bringing population from all parts of the world there and setting up a human infrastructure for them there. The drawback of the Manifest Destiny model is that it was expensive in terms of lives and fortunes lost. The model wavered in whatever political winds happened to be blowing in the world and not all Arctic lands reached the potential of their explorers' dreams.
The northward or coldward course model represented by the Antarctic, exalted science and technology as tools of diplomacy and served as a laboratory for international cooperation. The drawback of this model is that the environmental exploitation necessary to ensure a permanent residence for human populations has not been achieved.
The exploration and settlement of Mars can not tolerate a loss of too many lives and fortunes. It can not be held hostage to the winds of world politics. And, it must rely on the exploitation of a fragile and pristine environment for humans to make a go of it there.
1 . The first lesson to be learned from these examples is that Mars settlement will require an amalgam of the Manifest Destiny and northward course models. This hybrid model will require international cooperation to set up the human infrastructure on Mars. But, once ensconced, the settlement will need a certain amount of autonomy to exploit the planet for their immediate needs and also for the long-term success of the settlement. Their multinational sponsors must be prepared to allow self-government among Mars settlers and to permit them stewardship over the planet. It will be a frontier society in a very large territory a long way from Earth.
What other lessons can we learn from Euro-American exploration?
2. For any one government to keep a Mars exploration and settlement agenda, a large and serious enough threat must be perceived and Mars must be viewed as a solution to that threat. Several such threats can be imagined. The first is the threat of world-wide nuclear war. While the threat of nuclear war between Cold War superpowers have abated, other nations pose risks with their nuclear brinkmanship. Casting about for a moral equivalent of war, the scientific enterprise is a good candidate. What greater scientific enterprise than something so big that many nations, former combatants, have to work toward meeting the goal? Mars is such a goal. Antarctica, but more to the point, the International Space Station project are good exercises in such cooperation necessary to attain Mars. The second threat which makes Mars an attractive solution is world overpopulation. One demographic school of thought warns that world population is growing out of control; another model demonstrates that as nations industrialize, they bring their populations down. The truer picture is probably made up of both predictive models. Industrial nations do bring their populations down, but there are plenty of non-industrial countries whose birth rates are many times that of industrial and post-industrial nations and whose death rates do not cancel out this effect. They enjoy to greater or lesser degree the benefits of the one-world economy. Birth rates are not tempered by old-time horticultural or agrarian agricultural death rates owing to modem medicine, nutrition, and sanitation. In addition, human longevity is on the rise in the world as well. World population stands at about 6 billion persons at the moment, but soon there will be many more billions. Mars can be terraformed in almost the same amount of time that petroleum explorers take to ready an oilfield for production. In a few generations, the fourth planet out could be ready to receive the human overflow. The third and largest threat to which Mars is a solution is getting "our eggs out of one basket." That phrase has come to be associated with the overwhelming threat of asteroid and cometary impact to Earth. As Gene Shoemaker said, the Earth moves through the Cosmos as in a hail of bullets (National Geographic Films). implanting a human population on Mars would increase our chances of not becoming extinct following an impact event. Developing the technology for the seeding of Mars with a human genome would in turn produce better technology to protect the Earth. Related to this vein of thought is a fourth more exotic threat which is of no immediate relevance, but I will mention it anyway: passive extinction. All species which have ever lived on planet Earth run the risk of losing out over the course of time in the constant adjustments and accommodations made between their genomes and changing planetary environments. The human species is just as vulnerable as any species. Sending a human population to Mars might increase our genetic vigor by allowing this group to differentiate in subtle ways, away from Earth humans for the most part, with little gene flow between.
3. A third lesson from the polar record is that investments will flow into exploration and settlement of Mars if it is presented as a marketable resource. The dawning of the 22nd century could hold in store at least a two-world economy, requiring a re-engineering of systems of supply, demand, capital, and production. Whenever exploration is presented as a business solution, it has gone forward typically. The collective influence of multinational corporations far outweigh the efforts of national governments. We must not bind Mars up too tightly under some kind of treaty system like the Antarctic Treaty System or through some kind of legal lands lock-up such that business opportunities are stymied. Nature will take its course and Mars-grown eco-politics will prevail as a regulatory mechanism against over-exploitation. Concern over the resources of Mars, which are renewable and which are not renewable, will bring the Green Movement to the Red Planet. Green concerns will feed back into the exploitation and terraforming effort and make for better technology and products.
4. Another obvious lesson which can be gleaned from the polar record is to expect a lot of attempted government intervention in the agenda of exploration and settlement, but to expect very little government help, even in terms of rescue of explorers and colonists.
5. A fifth lesson from the polar record shows that the more overlapping and interconnected networks acting in the interests of the expedition are, the better off it is. Mars exploration and settlement should be more than just a grassroots effort. It needs to be a virtual, if not actual, joint venture with the grassroots organization, with the public, with governments, and with major corporations, with the grassroots consensus taking a proactive, guiding role.
6. In a related vein, the sixth lesson which can be teamed from human activity in terrestrial polar regions is the worth of cultivating private backer networks from among the public. Rather than wait to solicit private backers through a public appeal when the going gets tough, devise and depend on a private resource pool from the beginning, while at the same time cultivating all the other support networks. This is along the line of what Robert Zubrin has in mind with these proceedings.
The media must be harnessed to accomplish this task, with the Internet providing a personal interface with backers, again, as Zubrin has suggested. Virtual communities make individuals in large populations powerful, creating a strong collective influence. The polar record shows that the public's imagination is seized by exploration. The task is to convert that imagination into a motivation to provide the resources to explore and settle Mars. There has always been a "reserve army of explorers" in this century. This is nowhere better illustrated than with the Cold War Baby Boomers who thought they would live on the moon, beneath the seas, and travel to Mars. The Weekly Reader told us so. However, few structures were in place to sustain the Boomer interest. As Hans Mark has said, "...the nation's space program has only one important constituent: the President of the United States." He maintains that only John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan care much about space exploration. He says that he sees no evidence of a voting bloc of Boomers to support a strong space program (Mark 1997). He has a point. Perhaps no voting bloc has existed because no one really presented the Boomers with an opportunity to vote on issues directly relating to space. A private Mars initiative must rely on the consensus of backers. It bucks the old presidential consensus-of-one model. And, this is important, the initiative must rely not only on the new generations, but must rekindle the feeling of the Baby Boomers for space exploration. It can be done. I recently gave a lecture on Mars in a Russian commercial fishing camp on a rugged bit of coast along the Sea of Okhotsk. The fishermen were all Baby Boomers. I gave about a 20-minute after-dinner lecture, but they asked enthusiastic questions well into the wee hours of the morning. The captain of the crew said it made him want to leave fishing to go back to school. The Baby Boomers, where ever they are, remember their lost legacy of space very well. They should not be discounted as a voting bloc, either. The time that all political demographers have warned about is upon us: the Baby Boomers are aging. Aging people are an important voting bloc, and there's an enormous number of Baby Boomers in the bloc which is forming. They have longevity, individual autonomy, and discretionary income. They are a force to be reckoned with. The Boomers can put the "Boom" into the rockets to Mars.
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