At the moment, the Antarctic Treaty determines what people can or cannot do on the continent, but there is always a risk that governments will abandon the treaty. Discussions on opening up Antarctica for mining resources like coal and oil, or using it for a dumping ground for waste should never happen. The ban on these activities must be permanent. Antarctica is too precious – it should have guaranteed protection for another thousand years, not fifty.
Challenges section docs
How do you personally feel about this view of the future? Happy? Angry? Disturbed? Or do you feel something else?
Most people couldn’t care less about Antarctica and know little about it. Some might have seen a TV programme about one of the heroic explorers like Shackleton, but they know little about the scientific research that goes on there, or how beautiful it is. To most, it’s like another planet – a cold, distant place, home to penguins. For them, signs of global warming and the gradual destruction of the last clean environment on Earth are easy to take.
Beneath the ice, Antarctica may be hiding a treasure trove of minerals, including vast oil fields beneath the Ross and Weddell Seas.
Antarctic fish are highly sought after by biotechnology companies, companies that invent new medicines, foods or industrial products from living organisms.
Metals minerals meteorites – information factsheets about Antarctica’s resources.