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Stand up for Antarctica!

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Owing to all the developed as well as developing nations’ heavy and seemingly never-ending dependency on natural resources including the fossil fuel, it seems inevitable that Antarctica, which is the only continent not ransacked so far with mankind’s wanton resource exploitation, in soon going to be encroached, too. For anyone concerned about the ecology of Antarctica and the role this pristine continent is playing in sustaining the earth’s environment, it is more than sad to learn that the international co-operation which ratified the Antarctica Treaty 30 years ago - solidifying Antarctica’s position to remain undisturbed - is soon going to be slain by a possible Mineral Convention regulating the systematic mining in Antarctica for the first time. Although presently it might feel a bit assuring to bask in the idea that extracting resources in Antarctica under stringent environmental safeguards will let no harm come to the continent’s fragile but awesomely rich & rare diversity of flora, fauna and incredible geological formation, we never know the consequences of tampering with the subtle natural aspects governing this serene ice-covered continent. By doing so in the hope of increasing our source and stock of sausage we might well be cutting our own ‘pound of flesh’. No technological expertise, monitoring, caution or innovations to curb the environmental tragedies has stood any chance before the colossal scale of steady environmental degradation and mounting ecological threats so far. We should not forget that in venturing to turn Antarctica into a mineral money-minter we are also shoveling a tenth of the world’s land surface – and a seriously delicate and very rare land surface at that. In a world which is alarmingly plagued by greenhouse effect already we cannot in our sanity trample upon the pristineness of a region which is the earth’s major heat sink containing 90% of the world’s ice and about three quarters of its fresh water. The continents 2% of land uncovered by snow retains a variety of life, though attenuate, which no doubt plays a crucial role in sustaining the Antarctica’s ecology. Man has already committed enough ecological crime by killing the great whales surrounding Antarctica almost on the verge of extinction in the recent past. We can never know, despite all the environmental safeguard estimates and scrutiny, what fate awaits the creatures like Blue whales, penguins, krill and hosts of other creatures inhabiting Antarctica and the rich, colorful oceanic habitats of great diversity underneath.


Commercializing the deeps of Antarctica for that reason is beyond any doubt lifting the lid of yet another environmental Pandora’s box. Antarctica is simply too dear to be put into any kind of bargain. It is the last great treasure continent unhinderedly aiding to the sustenance of life on earth despite the increasing pressure of global warming. To consider seriously, what more proof do we need to be thrown in our face than a proven fact that a little more than proportionate melting of polar snow has already threatened to raise the sea levels worldwide and has put the long-term natural integrity of island as well as coastal nations in serious question? The exploitation of Antarctic resources, hence, shouldn’t even be considered let alone be sanctioned no matter how stringent to-be-regulated environmental safeguards are going to be. It should be at all costs a big ‘NO.’ Even if we’re able to use all its coals, minerals and oils (say) without harming its ecological balance, which will be a serious lie, we will nevertheless be burning them by consuming them in a thousand and one ways thereby further increasing the levels of CFCs and other nefarious gases eventually ruining the integrity of already thinning layer of ozone. This will only procrastinate the realization of urgency to find, develop and utilize in mass scale the other alternative fuel resources. Antarctica, for the sake of our dear planet’s longevity as well as every forms of life she has been sustaining since time inconceivable, should be declared a ‘wilderness park’ free from exploitation forever. It should be left alone, once and for all, and unapproachable for the Midas-eyed industrialist nations or other big names in fossil fuel industry regardless of whether they are private or state-owned. Antarctica should be revered, loved, cherished and left to remain what it is – our savior continent ecologically, and, as a text on Antarctica goes, a geological wonderland & a perfect natural laboratory for scientists to pursue knowledge for its own sake.


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