We have opened the road to a new world in our theory and it must be a world of inconceivable richness. When we think of the untapped richness of mineral resources that must exist in such a region, of the untouched veins of gold that may run down from the scanty traces which we painfully mine on our outer surface--which we dig out so slowly that, work away for years as we do, the visible supply of gold never gets much beyond the consumption so that for thousands and thousands of years it has been a precious metal and a standard for money values when we consider that those scanty veins may be but the outermost traces of what in the interior are immense deposits; when we think of the other precious metals whose fields are so strictly limited on the outer surface; when we think of the decreasing deposits of diamonds and other precious stones which may be supplemented by those of the interior the imagination is staggered. And those are only the most obvious sources of wealth. It is little recognized, but true, that iron deposits and rich sources of fuel and food are just as much treasure trove as gold and precious stones. We do not know what new food products beside the mammal and many species of fish we may
find in the interior but there must be many. As a land it must more than teem with milk and honey. It must be alive at every point with animal and vegetable life. Its seas must also teem with creatures that are not known to us at the present day on the outer surface although we do see the fossil remains. These creatures are undoubtedly edible as they are so closely related to forms of present day life that are edible. The vegetation of the interior of the earth is practically the same in all probability as the outer-earth vegetation used to be in the Carboniferous period--the vegetation which, fossilized, gives us our coal measures today. Now this vegetation has been growing in the interior for hundreds of thousands of years, perhaps, certainly for tens of thousands, of years, and its successive growths and decays have undoubtedly formed vast peat bogs similar to those in Ireland and other countries that yield much fuel to-day. These peat bogs are really the first stage in the formation of coal beds, and if we could get to those on the interior today we should have all the coal or near coal that we wanted, enough to supply the wants of the world for years to come--for years after our present coal mines were exhausted. The richness of that one item in the wealth of the interior of the world must be incalculable.
For economic reasons, then, as well as for the advancement of science and the glory of discovery, it
is of the utmost importance that the interior of the earth should be explored.
And let the reader note well that the interior will, by international law, belong to the country which first penetrates it and plants its flag there.
The real discovery of the interior has been made by a citizen of the United States--has been made in this book. But that fact will cut very little figure if another country gets its flag in first. And the scientists of all the civilized countries in the globe have read our theory. To be sure they read it in war-time. Europe and Japan were both busy. No time or men could be spared to take advantage of this opportunity. But the war is, at length, over. Things are becoming normal again. European countries are fully awake, more so than ever before, to the need for territory--they are nearly enough bankrupt so that any chance to recuperate their fortunes is not to be turned down without hesitation. And their hesitation will be brief when they realize that all they have to do is to equip an expedition consisting of two or even one ship and a couple of æroplanes, and fit them out for much less than a year's voyage. The ship will carry the supplies and the æroplanes as far north as practicable. Then the aviators will put forth, flying so quickly over the cold barrier that they will hardly suffer from it at all. And once they reach the interior the thing is done. The flag is planted. The land is claimed, and America's chance at it is gone forever. And who
can doubt that if America gets this land, America with her high civilization, her free institutions, her humanity--for there may be native population to deal with--her generosity--who can doubt but that if my country is first in this new land the outlook for the greatest benefits from it is most bright? Do we want one of the autocratic countries of Europe to perpetuate in this new world all the old evils of colonial oppression and exploitation?
No, let the world that an American has discovered be opened to the rest of the world by American enterprise. In that way its benefits will be to all the world and not to a few, not to a privileged nation or class.
But will America grasp her opportunity? In that question, reader, lies something for you to ponder. While we live in a great and enterprising country, a free and enlightened country, our greatness and enlightenment and initiative reside more in ourselves as individuals than in our government. The nations of Europe are used to have their governments do this and that for them. We have relied more on our own efforts, and consequently our government does not have the quality of initiative that other governments have. We have spoken of what some European or even Asiatic governments may do. Is our own ad-ministration likely to do it first? The answer is not until public opinion makes it take action. Unless some private citizens club together to form an expedition
[paragraph continues] --as in the past they have supported several Arctic exploring expeditions--unless they do this, the government is hardly likely to undertake it of its own initiative. The only way in which the government could he made to do it would be the agitation of the subject in congress, and if that were undertaken by enlightened senators or representatives the government could then, through the navy or some other department, appropriate money and select men to carry on the expedition.
But there is one danger to guard against here. 'We have a habit in our legislatures of discussing things at wearisome length before we get any action on them. And the very conservative among our legislators would likely enough disapprove of any such programme as we have outlined. There is always a lot of unintelligent opposition to scientific research among our senators and representatives. Now the discussion of this matter in congress would be reported all over the world, and the moment the European nations saw that we intended to explore the interior of the earth they would get in ahead of us.
So it is obvious that however we go about this matter of exploration we must not delay. Opportunity knocks once in many cases, and never knocks again if she is not admitted. We already know enough of the Arctic regions so that the expedition could start without much preliminary investigation. The best
approaches are known. What we should need in supplies is known. We know roughly what to expect when we reach the interior. We know that it is possible to cover even such a distance as the Atlantic flight in a plane. So we know how powerful a plane would be needed and how much fuel for this relatively short voyage. A first voyage, of course, would be only exploratory and designed to get information upon which a more detailed and heavy expedition and survey could be made. The chief thing would be to verify those discoveries and get the flag. planted. After that one of the largest exploring expeditions in the history of the world would be called for. And it would be immediately followed by the establishment of regular freight routes and the organization of means of exploiting the resources of the new world.
But may the author beg his readers to regard this from a patriotic standpoint and to do their level best to see that their country is not left behind in the matter? We would like to have letters from all who sympathize with our endeavors to have this new world explored.
It may be objected that the present is no time to burden our already over-burdened government with fresh enterprises and our tax payers with new appropriations. But that is a very superficial objection. If the government authorized an expedition it could be undertaken by the regular naval or coast survey forces already enrolled in government service and on
the government pay roll. The ships and aeroplanes required are also already paid for. The only extra expense would be for supplies. And the actual results of a successful expedition would far outweigh even the largest possible expenditures. A new territory almost as vast as that which the world occupies now would be opened to mankind. How much of it America could claim is problematical but she could certainly claim a tremendous area. The minute we began to take the riches of this area from the interior to our own country our national wealth would increase tremendously. In fact the whole burden of poverty would be lifted. There would be new careers for all who wished them. A new world would mean the disappearance of most of the woes of the present half-world on which we dwell, ignorantly taking it to be the whole world.
Such is the opportunity that confronts us as a nation. Every patriot who is also intelligent must see that to help realize this opportunity is in itself to be a patriot just as much as if he were helping on the field of battle. In fact everyone who helps in this enterprise will be helping on a field of battle the battle for subsistence, for plenty, for progress, for supremacy, for all that makes life worth living. For this discovery would add the most glorious page yet written to the annals of the United States. It would place us first among the nations in intellectual glory;
it would even enhance the supremacy which we already enjoy in the material sphere. We talk of helping to feed Europe. Once we have made this discovery in actual physical fact--as it is already made in reason and thought--feeding Europe would be a mere bagatelle. We could feed the world and have an unlimited plenty left over. We not only could feed the world but we would transform the world. A new and glorious chapter in the history of the human race would have opened.