[meteorite-list] Meteorite Collecting (Should Not Be) Linked to Fossil Controversy

From: Robert Beauford <wendirob_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 09:42:03 2004
Message-ID: <000a01c08562$3be49820$d44897cc_at_wendirob>

When countries clamp down on fossils, it becomes, at the political level, an
expression of nationalism, cultural patrimony, and economics, and seldom
scientific preservation. Increased funding is never then prioritized or
generated to explore those same resources that are closed off. The stuff
becomes, for the present, unavailable. Period.
It may be another 100 year before Libya or Morocco or Algeria has an
interest or facilities to study the Sahara or NWA meteorites, and in the
meantime, they will sit in the ground and become less scientifically
important. Meteorites are not like artifacts or fossils... glimpses into
situations that no longer exist and that cannot be experienced directly.
They are glimpses into a place that is filled to the brim with a trillion
trillion times more of the exact same material that is just out of reach.
Ocean water would be of great scientific value to those trying to understand
the oceans at a distance, but we are getting closer and closer to space (the
ocean) every day. (As the new ion drive is preparing to send the next
probes to look at Vesta and other asteroids, and as we plan isolation
proceedures for returning Mars rocks.) If the meteorite trade is closed,
the meteorites will stay in the ground. Less, not more, will be available
to science, less, not more interest will be generated in the global
populace, and less, not more, money and material will go to research so we
will be less, not more knowledgeable and prepared for the next great step of
human kind. Also, they will be worth less, not more, to science when they
are eventually recovered. Meteorites are not fossils. (Yes, I know they
are in that they record the beginnings of our solar system and etc., but..)
Meteorites are more like drops of water to a land bound people. When we
have a strong space program (say 100 years from now if all goes well), they
will be mere curiosities and collectables again, because they will be space
stuff that fell to earth. By then we will be studying them directly in
space on a regular basis in unlimited quantities unterrestrialized, and
unaltered by atmospheric passage. Meteorites are glimpses into a place we
cannot yet easily go. Heck, 100 years from now... we will probably be
mining and refining them as ore and water and gas sources for remote
programs. It is right now that meteorites are most important to science,
and it is right now that it is most important that the maximum number of
martian and lunar and life sustaining resource bearing, and potentially
economically important, and otherwise important pieces are found,
identified, distributed, and studied. Due to the economic drive of the
market place, this is being done with incredible efficiency (and
sloppiness). It would be nice if it were also shaped to maximize the
scientific benefit of the discoveries... but impairing the market in general
is certainly not the answer.

I could be wrong, and my little soap box talk certainly doesn't grasp the
enormous complexity or even a tenth of the relevant issues here, but I
think it is worth mentioning and thinking about. I thought I was writing a
short little note when I started. LOL
PPMI (Please Pardon My Ignorance of related issues that I just don't know
about or understand.)
-Robert Beauford : )

> >Steve Schoner wrote:
> >SRS> Bob, we see it the "handwriting on the wall" but does the rest >of
> >meteorite collecting community see it. What is the solution? >An
> >association-- but there is no one with the courage or gumption to >carry
> >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
> >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
> >our divided ranks. Steve Schoner
> >
> Steve hit the nail dead on with that posting (particularly take note of
> last sentence). As more money gets involved governments will get more
> involved like they do with regularly outlawing fossil collecting sites
> 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
> 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,
> 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
Received on Tue 23 Jan 2001 12:30:22 PM PST

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