- Should Antarctica be Developed in the Future?
- Antarctica is a remote continent on the South Pole of the Earth. Although 98% of the continent is covered in ice, it is considered a desert, as there is very little precipitation; it has an annual precipitation of only 8 inches along the coast and far less inland. It is generally one of the coldest, driest, and windiest continents. It is 1.3 times as large as Europe, making it the fifth-largest continent. The only animals that live there are ones adapted to the cold, such as penguins, seals, mites, algae, microorganisms and tundra plants. No human permanently lives there, but there are many who stay for extended periods for things such as scientific research. The Antarctic Treaty, which prohibits military activities and mineral mining, has been signed by 46 countries since its inception.
- Officially, Antarctica has no government; however, various countries claim sovereignty in certain regions of the continent. The validity of these claims is not universally accepted. The continent is considered politically neutral. Mining is prohibited, as is military activity; military personnel or equipment are permitted only for scientific purposes.
- The Antarctic Treaty System regulates international relations within Antarctica. It aims to keep Antarctica as a scientific reserve, and prevent military activity on the continent. The headquarters are located in Argentina. For the purposes of the treaty, Antarctica is defined as all land and ice shelves south of 60°S latitude. The treaty was the first arms control agreement in the Cold War.
- Potential development in Antarctica could include mining for minerals and fishing. A lot of fishing already goes on in Antarctica, a lot of it illegal; mining is forbidden in Antarctica until the year 2048, when the case will be reviewed. Tourism would potentially be a viable industry, if said tourists could stay alive in the extreme weather conditions; it is likely that many people would want to visit an uninhabited continent covered in ice.
- The main problem with developing in Antarctica is the effects on the ecosystem. Fishing could cause over fishing on certain species, effects on the food chain, unintentionally killing other animals, and the destruction of habitat by fishing gear. The CCAMLR – The Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources – was established in 1982, mainly to stop the extinction, or near-extinction, of Krill. Large-scale mining of minerals would potentially also damage habitat, destroy ice, and also cause lots of pollution on a largely untainted continent. Tourism would also probably be near-impossible, as injured tourists would have no way to access a hospital.
- I think that there should be no development in Antarctica, as it would damage habitat, environment and wildlife. It would also hinder scientific progress, and break many treaties that have been in place for decades. As the continent is currently the only one to be mainly untouched by humans, I think that it should stay this way for the foreseeable future; it will be a long time before we run out of natural materials, and the case for development should be considered at this time. For now, though, I believe that development should not take place on Antarctica.
a guest Jun 8th, 2011 553 Never
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