More on William Speirs Bruce

29 Sep

William Speirs Bruce had two outstanding enthusiasms; he was a committed natural scientist and an internationalist – by which I mean he thought that there should be cooperation between all scientists with advances shared independent of nationality –
He demonstrated his philosiphy when he transferred control of Omond House the meteorology station on Laurie Island (South Orkneys), to Argentina in 1904. He made this decision because he was determined that the work that he had started on the island and neither the British Foreign Office or the British Admiralty showed interest in the project. Argentina made one of their lab workers a postal officer a decision that has repercussions today.
In the later part of Bruce’s life, he became obsessed with developing the mineral assets of Svalbard, the archipelago north of Norway.
He would have been pleased how his enthusiasms have dovetailed. In Svalbard there is a concrete seed vault that has been set up to protect the global agricultural heritage. The vault has been designed to be strong enough to resist nuclear explosions.
Now a full representative sample of syria”s agricultural heritage will be collected by scientists from the Middle East to be grown. Some of the crop will be returned to Svalbard for storage.
This is a truly inspired development run by the Global Crop Diversity Trust. It would have been beyond Bruce’s wildest imaginations but a development in which he would have rejoiced.

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