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  • Future of antarctica

    A comprehensive four-year study of warming in the Arctic shows that heat-trapping gases from tailpipes and smokestacks around the world are contributing to profound environmental changes, including sharp retreats of glaciers and sea ice, thawing of permafrost and shifts in the weather, the oceans and the atmosphere.
    Global warming is not only fact, but most definetly will rapidly accelerate as more greenhouse effect gases accumulate in the atmosphere, methane hydrate deposits rupture, and earths surface reflects less heat due to the melting of ice.

    The economic viability of drilling for hydrocarbons and mining ore will only increase the warmer the arctic becomes. Given the inevitability of global warming, its foolhardy to think that antartica can be protected from exploitation and development. The worst case scenario is not just the development of antartica, but of wars between nations reminiscent of the wars caused by the discovery of the americas by europe. The arctic treaty only works because antarctica is so inhospitable, if global warming can't be stopped then neither can the exploitation of anarctica.

    The possiblity of exploiting antartica only becomes compounded by the increasing cost for crude oil, and the crisis countries will be forced to deal with as sea levels rise and low lying areas become flooded.

    There are essentially 3 plausable results for a warmer, more hospitable antarctica.

    1. Antartica becomes divided into different segments for several different nations.

    2. Antartica becomes wholly controlled by a single country

    3. Antartica becomes an independent nation with its own populace.

    Does anyone else feel that antarticas development is not only regretfully inevitable, but rapidly approaching?

  • #2
    Hi Jonathan,

    A good question and one that requires a great deal of thought.

    I don't think that Antarctica's development is inevitable, but it is possible. I don't think that it is rapidly approaching either - though it depends on your definition of "rapidly".

    As long as the rest of the world is stable there is no need to populate Antarctica, it is just too expensive to do so and at the moment any settlements - scientific bases - are totally provisioned from outside Antarctica.

    It would need some momentus change in the world to populate Antarctica with a sustainable economy of its own with any degree of self-sufficiency.

    The most extreme glabal warming forcasts however do predict this momentus change, with changes in sea-level due to rising temperatures and raised temperatures in the tropics making many places in the world uninhabiatable or even just not there any more - and they'd be under water. In this scenario, Antarctica could become somewhere to live and could probably support a large population of people in some degree of self-sufficiency.

    There is a historical precendence in that part of Greenland from about 1000 A.D. to approx. 1400 A.D. had up to 5000 viking people living there until the climate became too cold for their continuation see here. Also, Antarctica has been forested in the past while in pretty much its present position, so if the ice melted, it could become so again.

    I do tend to feel however, that we (mankind) has a love of fantastic stories beyond reality, and while we should maybe give more importance to global warming and its effects than we are at the moment, that we should spend more time on what we know to be true and less on what sounds extreme and more exciting.

    Also, see this page on Cool Antractica about global warming in Antarctica

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    • #3
      well, we can already see some confrontations

      Well, we can already see some confrontations due to global warming up at the north pole. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/index.cfm?...jectID=9005765. For the north the main issue is shipping lanes and ports, however just as temperatures are making the north more valuable the same will happen for the south...assuming global warming continues that is.

      Part of the problem of a warming antarctica is just as it is becoming more habitable, the ice in antarctica will be melting and in turn raising sea levels. This in turn will result in lost of coastal land, much of which is heavily populated. So just as antarctica becomes more hospitable, the rest of the world will be feeling a scarcity of land and resources.

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      • #4
        Ecosystem

        I've a new addition to this topic:
        What are the affects of global warming on the ecosystem of the Antarctic? Plants especially, wouldn't they spread over the Antarctic? I heard that moss has been spreading from the penninsula where they were ussually located.

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