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Slide 1

The World’s Last Great Wilderness (Antarctica)

The World’s Last Great Wilderness (Antarctica)

Dr Julian Paren

Schools Liaison Officer

British Antarctic Survey

Talk at RGS 8 February 2001

Slide 2

The Antarctic continent

The Antarctic continent

Coldest, driest, windiest, highest, and least accessible continent

Winter population 1000 people, 10,000 in summer

10,000 tourists visit for a few days in summer

Ice covered for the last 25 million years

Less than 1% of continent is ice free

Once the home of dinosaurs, trees and plants

An insect is the “lion” of the Antarctic

Slide 3

The Southern Ocean

The Southern Ocean

Fifty million seals & 15 million penguins

Regional fishery of global economic value

History of over-exploitation. Seals, whales. penguins and fish

Fishery for krill and fish regulated by science-backed international body under Antarctic Treaty

Pirate fishing due to lack of effective policing

Decline of albatross due to mortality on long lines of tuna fishermen in sub-Tropics

Slide 4

The Antarctic Treaty

The Antarctic Treaty

Antarctica is “a natural reserve devoted to peace and science”

The Antarctic Treaty manages the region’s wildlife

Mining is forbidden

The Treaty runs indefinitely

Forty-four countries have acceded to the Antarctic Treaty (80% of the world population)

All 44 countries have to agree to Treaty revisions

Slide 5

“Green” fallacies about the Antarctic

“Green” fallacies about the Antarctic

The Antarctic Treaty expires in 50 years

Mining is only banned for 50 years

Antarctica is under threat from developers

People working in the Antarctic have polluted the continent

Antarctica still has to be saved

Penguins fall over backwards when planes fly overhead!

Slide 6

Home truths from the Antarctic

Home truths from the Antarctic

The Antarctic is the most rigorously protected region of the world

The protection is legally backed

International inspection teams monitor compliance with the Antarctic Treaty

Man’s footprint on Antarctica is practically invisible

More “pollution” enters the region through the atmosphere than is generated there (DDT, CFCs )

Slide 7

Antarctic discoveries

Antarctic discoveries

The destruction of the ozone layer

A 400,000 year demonstration of the link between greenhouse gases and climate

The global impact of the Industrial Revolution

A reduction of the height of the ionosphere consistent with “global warming”

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