[meteorite-list] Future of Meteorite Collecting Linked to Commercial Fossil Controversy

From: meteorites_at_space.com <meteorites_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 09:42:03 2004
Message-ID: <20010123164507.14795.cpmta_at_c000.snv.cp.net>

On Tue, 23 January 2001, "dean bessey" wrote:

> >Steve Schoner wrote:
> >SRS> Bob, we see it the "handwriting on the wall" but does the rest >of the
> >meteorite collecting community see it. What is the solution? >An
> >association-- but there is no one with the courage or gumption to >carry it
> >through. Meteorites are not like rare fossils. You can't >give the
> >government half or a portion of a dino skeleton, or egg, and >satisfy the
> >demands of science. Meteorites-- they are different. >One can satisfy the
> >demands of science with a portion. And that can, >if we form an
> >association, lobby our legislators, have the laws that >will be enacted
> >allow for provisions that would not outlaw meteorite >collecting or
> >seriously curtail it. Too many agendas, and the powers >to be will conquer
> >our divided ranks. Steve Schoner
> >
> Steve hit the nail dead on with that posting (particularly take note of that
> last sentence). As more money gets involved governments will get more
> involved like they do with regularly outlawing fossil collecting sites which
> means that collectors and scientists dont learn more about the earths
> history since rich fossil sites stop having great new and important
> discoveries after searching them is outlawed. (Or with the laws concerning
> artifacts that is more based on money rather than the "cultural" aspect that
> it is supposed to - Seems odd that artifact laws only get enforced with
> items with a high monetary value rather than its historical importance).
> Think about what future scientific knowledge would be lost if Libya, Morocco
> and the United States put in place draconian meteorite laws that hampers
> science and results in meteorites rusting away rather than being collected
> and studied like Canada and Australia has done. (Or keeps collectors from
> adding exciting new stuff to their collections). Just look at all of the
> Tagish Lake that was lost and is now rusting at the bottom of a very cold
> lake due to the canadian government handling of the situation - with the
> full support of the Canadian government and the laws of the land). Dont
> think that it cant happen.
> PS:
> Geez. I am agreeing with Steve. I must be wrong on this one. (Just kidding)

Dean, yes we can and do agree, (amazing isn't it). You living in Canada can appreciate or otherwise, suffer under the Canadian meteorite laws. Will it happen here in the US-- I expect so. Surely, the scientific community can appreciate the fact that because of popular interest and demand, some really rare and extraordinary meteorites have come to light. After all, it was science that sparked the popular interest in meteorites.

But the downside of it is that with the popular demand, and the market dynamics of that demand the prices of these finds have skyrocketed. Hundreds of kilos of NWA's aside, the prices of meteorites in general have gone steadily up as the demand for them increases.
The scientists, with their ever decreasing budgets, are left out. They cannot compete with the private sector dealers, but they do have power to lobby. They do have power to influence the lawmakers of this land, just as the archeologists did with regards to artifacts and ancient sites. But meteorites, as I mentioned previously, are not like unique artifacts that cannot be divided-- meteorites can be divided. We must be open to the possibility that laws might be enacted in response to the auctioneering, and ever increasing prices of meteorites. But I think we must also be open to the concept of organizing ourselves into a group (I refrain from using the "A" word) to lobby for our cause as well.
> _______________________________________________
And we as dealers, collectors and enthusiasts do have a "cause"-- for without us and our quest for meteorites, and our marketing of them-- a good portion of the really significant ones found recently might not have come to light.

If strict laws are enacted, such as with fossils and artifacts, then I can foresee the slowdown of further discoveries.
> ____________________________________
If we as a group can organize, and come to the table with our cards in hand, and parley with those who will make the laws, our interests will be represented. We can compromise, offer to them that if laws restricting meteorite collection be enacted that it be such at collections from public lands be allowed if a significant portion be allocated free of charge to the scientific community.
(Just think of how much of that Tagish Lake meteorite would have been recovered if the Canadian Government had such a provision, allowing private collectors to make collections from that site). In closing, I thank Bob Varrish for posting this topic. It sheds light on a pending problem that will most certainly affect us all. Steve Schoner, AMS

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Received on Tue 23 Jan 2001 11:45:07 AM PST

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