#1 By: Maggie Koerth-Baker, February 14th, 2014 09:42
#2 By: Kimmoth, February 14th, 2014 09:48
Like fuck, you can have my guano.
I've got a bit of paper says everything that isn't already someone else's is mine.
Some old guys who hang out in a flash building did a ceremony over it, so it's totally legit.
#3 By: alkali19, February 14th, 2014 09:51
All these stories about old laws are based on statutes that were repealed decades or centuries ago. This is the exception: it's still on the books today.
#4 By: J.A.Palotes Machado, February 14th, 2014 09:59
Small opportunity lost there: «All your bird poop are belong to US».
#5 By: Jeff Fisher, February 14th, 2014 10:02
I wonder if it might be superseded by some later treaty though.
#6 By: John Fleming, February 14th, 2014 10:19
This had to do with making gunpowder, didn't it?
#7 By: fuzzyfuzzyfungus, February 14th, 2014 10:33
Agricultural uses. Excellent source of (easily bioavalible) nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Probably a bunch of other mixed nutrients as well, because it's poop and all.
I think the Haber–Bosch process reduced demand for it for the nitrogen(and incidentally pegged the price of most food stuffs to that of natural gas; but you can't have everything), not sure what we did about the other components.
(It was pretty serious business, though, as the Chincha Islands, one of the world's most dramatic deposits, found out the hard way.)
#8 By: fuzzyfuzzyfungus, February 14th, 2014 10:34
Does he have a cool hat and an invisible friend? Only those types of old guys are the true arbiters of just authority in any decent society.
#9 By: Inquiry, February 14th, 2014 10:37
Millard Filmore was the greatest US American president ... ever. Thank you for the bird, President Filmore.
#10 By: Kimmoth, February 14th, 2014 10:43
These guys said their legitimacy derived from a bunch of promises they made and don't have to keep, so that's obviously way more legit than funny hats funnelling invisible wisdom.
#11 By: newliminted, February 14th, 2014 10:52
I hereby declare myself to be Emperor Norton II.5 (There's already an Emperor Norton II making comics on deviantart). If you need a law passed, ratified, notarized, stamped, confirmed, declared, burned, vetoed, nullified or broken, just let me know.
#12 By: Greg Schnippel, February 14th, 2014 11:11
There's a good law review article from a couple years back that makes an argument for using the "Guano Act" as a model for encouraging private investment and development of outer space (ex. asteroid mining), in the absence of a working international property rights regime. No online link except through paywalls, but here's the citation:
Johnshoy, Matthew. Note. The final frontier and a Guano Islands Act for the twenty-first century: reaching for the stars without reaching for the stars. 37 J. Corp. L. 717-738 (2012).
#13 By: Tom White, February 14th, 2014 11:13
A distant ancestor of mine was in the guano business in the 19th century. The money he made built this:
There is a lot of money in shit.
#14 By: Kevin Kibbe, February 14th, 2014 11:21
And you all thought the U.S. government was bat shit crazy.
#15 By: Sigmund, February 14th, 2014 12:01
The perversity is in the details: go out, find your own island, dream of starting your own nation. Tough luck: if you are an American citizen, the act says this is now American territory -- at the discretion if the President.
And not only that: if you are not a US citizen and find your own piece of land, that means it is still not within lawful jurisdiction of any other Government. Unless you are lucky enough to be recognized as a nation, you should keep any other US citizen from setting foot on your land.
#16 By: nox, February 14th, 2014 12:16
We killed too much fish to feed the birds to make the guano to make our other food. Luckily science rescued us and now keeps a third of us alive.
Wikipedia entry on guano a surprisingly interesting read.
Since 1909, when the Peruvian government took over guano extraction for use by Peru farmers, the industry has relied on production by living populations of marine birds. U.S. ornithologists Robert Cushman Murphy and William Vogt promoted the Peruvian industry internationally as a supreme example of wildlife conservation, while also drawing attention to its vulnerability to the El Niño phenomenon. South Africa independently developed its own guano industry based on sustained-yield production from marine birds during this period, as well. Both industries eventually collapsed due to pressure from overfishing. The importance of guano deposits to agriculture elsewhere in the world faded after 1909 when Fritz Haber developed the Haber-Bosch process of industrial nitrogen fixation, which today generates the ammonia-based fertilizer responsible for sustaining an estimated one-third of the Earth's population.
#17 By: Daemonworks, February 14th, 2014 13:10
Seems nuts, but guano was used in the manufacturing of black powder. Finding an unclaimed island with a significant amount of guano was rather handy if you happened to have an army running on the stuff...
#18 By: heligo, February 14th, 2014 13:11
Now if only all legal speak was written as simply as this.
#19 By: AlexG55, February 14th, 2014 16:12
I think it's superseded by the fact that people don't really discover islands any more due to satellite mapping. Though the reverse still happens.
#20 By: Phillip Hallam Baker, February 14th, 2014 22:04
Interest in guano declined after the discovery of the Harber process for fixing nitrogen.
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