Last Updated 26 Jan 2021

4 main threats to Antarctica

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Tourism: Strange as it may be Antarctica is gradually developing into a popular tourist destination. This is because people who have been around the world and seen places like Niagara falls and Ayers rock and other natural phenomena's like the idea of going to Antarctica and getting photos of penguins etc. The problem with this is that it upsets the local wildlife and can make disrupt mating season with certain species. Some of the ecosystems are so delicate that even the slightest human interference might disrupt them. These ecosystems must be protected at all costs and to protect them we cannot have tourists looking at them taking pictures getting involved with these animals who until recently had never seen a human before.

Another bad thing about humans is wherever we go we tend to leave a mess and litter could severely damage the environment. Can you imagine a lichen/moss has taken hundreds of years to grow to finally get above the ice and survive only for a human to step on it and kill it? This is something that we cannot risk but tourism has a plus side. For instance it will provide another source of income that could help scientific equerries and if the proposed tourist building is built it will allow the scientists to work and do something different apart from research. It is hoped that this building would help tourism to expand from the present 2500 tourists a year. But how to protect animals from tourists? Is a very good question and a set of rules has been developed so that visitors can get a good experience without disturbing the wildlife too much. There is not much we can do to discourage tourism but we can set a limit to the amount of people allowed on the continent and make sure that they follow a set of guidelines so that they do not interfere with the wildlife.

Mining: This is another big threat because things like oil and coal and minerals like copper and iron will not last forever. And the problem is that Antarctica has the worlds' largest coal deposits and possibly huge stores of oil that could be used to extract tens of billions of barrels of oil. It also contains several large deposits of iron ore and even some of gold and silver. This leaves a dilemma because if the resources run out then Antarctica could well be the answer to the problems but; there are many downsides to mining in Antarctica. It would be very, very expensive because all food, water and equipment would have to be imported and then on top of that the minerals would have to be exported but to where, and how? It is a very hard problem to resolve. As well as the problem with transport as hard as that is obtaining the minerals. Most are buried beneath tonnes of ice and it would be extremely dangerous trying to retrieve them. Another point is that the minerals and coal are very low quality and not worth risking lives and money for.

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The treaty has banned mining for 50 years and even after that time it may not even be considered. But by that time someone may have developed a way of getting the materials cheaply and quickly who can tell? Currently there seems no need for a solution so it is not yet a problem but some time in the future it may be so we have to be prepare.

Global warming: this is a big threat because if the ice caps were to melt then sea levels would definitely rise considerably. Also it is not just melting ice caps that are dangerous but moving ice caps. Huge sections of ice are breaking off from the main mass of ice and drifting away on the currents. Could you imagine what would happen if a section of ice with a colony of penguins went floating away to a warmer continent where they could not find food? It is unsatisfactory but at the present time there is nothing we can do to completely halt global warming but reducing will help slow down the melting ice although there is little that can be done.

Fishing: There is a danger that krill and other small fish will be over fished and that mean a huge danger for all the animals in the Antarctic. Krill provide food for nearly every sea animal and if they are over fished then the other will starve. This means that the krill must be protected at all costs and made sure that their numbers are not allowed to drop. It takes 20 years for a fish to mature and so over fishing is a great danger. By lowering fishing quotas and the time the boats are allowed to fish in the waters will help to keep up krill numbers and not over fish.

Opinions: we interviewed several different people and asked what they thought about the Antarctic and what should be done.

Japanese whale hunter: 'Hunting whales is my livelihood and my family and I would starve if I couldn't hunt whales. Around the Antarctic there are lots of whales and we should be able to hunt them. I know we may put them in danger but there would be too many jobs lost if we weren't allowed to do it.'

Australian fisherman: 'I know that over fishing is a danger but we have to get enough fish to make money. I agree limiting the fish quota would help stop over fishing but they must not lower the fishing quota too much or we won't be able to make any money.'

Scientist: 'I am totally against any form of development, mining and even tourism because Antarctica, as the last wilderness on earth, cannot afford to be ruined by human corruption. If we allow too many tourists too come or too many fish to be caught then the whole eco-system that has survived for so long with no human interference will collapse.'

Politician: 'It is my view that eventually some development on Antarctica should be considered but for now we should look to preserve it. Although it will require an income and many people may not get as much pay as they did this cannot be helped if he purity that is Antarctica is to be kept safe.

In my opinion I believe that Antarctica should be kept the way it is although maybe making it into a huge wildlife preserve or a world park seem like very reasonable ideas. Every precaution must be taken to prevent over fishing and the animals life from being disturbed. I leave you with this thought. In a hundred years the world's population could have doubled and every spare inch of land will be taken up by housing. Would you see a place like Antarctica filled up with houses? It may happen; so I suggest we try to keep it perfect while we still can and try to find out as much as we can before it's too late.

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