Once upon a time... (in 2002, exactly 10 years ago)2 | 2012 | John A. Smart Discovery Award - proposal
…I had the privilege to be part of the Coca-Cola delegation of volunteerssupporting polar explorer Robert Swans "Mission Antarctica" exhibition atthe World Summit for Sustainable Development, Johannesburg 2002.
Robert Swan is the first man to have walked to both the North and the South Pole.He met a world leaders challenge to involve business and youth in environmental issues byremoving and recycling 1000 tons of waste from King George Island in Antarctica."Mission Antarctica" was an exhibition set up to deliver the message back to the world leadersgathered at the Johannesburg Summit.
Since then, it has become my dream to go South. Far South. http://geology.com/world/antarctica-satellite-image.shtml
Thank you Interbrand! Had it not been for the John Smart Discovery Awardfunding, it is quite unlikely that I would have made it there soon
First stop: Rio de Janeiro
even under drenching rain.
Next stop: Buenos Aires.
andremarkablyefficient atorganizing general strikes. On the very day I had to fly on
to Ushuaia, the end of the world. Sort of.
Eventually I made it the next day, last flight. Happy.
We are at the end of the Andes mountain range,
Getting down there doesnt seem like a long way.About 1000 miles.
Enter the Drake Passage,a.k.a. "Drake Shake".
…hence the name.
But after two days, "land in sight!" - The South Shetland Islands
with a sudden weather change.
The first sunset over Antarctica
and the first iceberg.My estimation of a first iceberg sight was "only" about a day off – they tend to be found in shallow waters close to the continent, not in the Drake Shake.
The first morning in Antarctica is starting off cloudy
but the day turns out very friendly.
Time for the first zodiac ride
of various designs
and, somewhat ironically, a human reminiscence,
the Governoren, a Norwegian Whaler in deep clear water.
Finally, the first penguin
and a bunch of seals on lunch break.
Back to the Ocean Diamond
to Orne Harbor
to set foot on theContinent.
Weird yellow animals occupy the heights
but natives are happy for visitors.
They do the "ecstatic display", meant to show who da boss.
Wont say what this penguin is doing,
but it recomposed quickly.
Their active social life is suddenly adrenalized by
an intruder. Skua the name, penguin egg piracy the trade.
We go on
to the next day. "More like Antarctica weather", our guides say.
Pingus dont mind.
The colony is patiently waiting for the snow to melt, so they can nest.
Gentoos with the red beak
are disinclined to acquiesce to myattempted penguin portrait setup. Wireless remote didnt workanyway. Should have done a time lapse instead,
of the Penguin Highway.
These lines will turn into trenches come summer.
Weather improves and paints the sky
as we move to Brown Station.
The hike is thoroughly enjoyed by our multicultural group.
Paradise Bay - probably the best dinner view Ive had
Last day – through the Lemaire Channel,
will we make it through the ice?
The answer is, unfortunately, no.We get to see penguins only from a distance
but get closer to glaciers
and a sea of ice.
Stuff I learnedfrom insightful Quark Expeditions lectures (Thank you!)
Among all the Greats inhabiting theSouthern Ocean, this is the silent hero: Krill. Photo: Wikipedia
It feeds off phytoplancton growing on the iceberg underwatersurface and represents the bottom of the food chain for animpressive number of species.Corolary: The more ice melts, the less krill get to eat. The less krillget to eat, the more great species are in danger. Photo source: http://anniekatec.blogspot.ch/2011/04/antarctic-penguin-population-declines.html
It is not only about icemelting – humans fishfor krill too, exactly onpenguin feeding grounds.Because it’s easy -"Look, penguins! Theremust be krill." Duh.This is unnecessary –there is plenty of krill foreveryone. Just fishsomewhere else. Picture source: http://archive.unu.edu/unupress/unupbooks/uu15oe/uu15oe0u.htm
The right to fish for krill & co. isonly a small part of a big question:
Various claims to the Antarctic territory have been madesince the age of great explorations. 100 years ago http://kids.britannica.com/elementary/art-128167/A-photograph-shows-members-of-Captain-Robert-Scotts-expedition-to
Why would anyone want acold, empty, inhospitable desert? For example, because it holds
70%of the worlds fresh water Picture source: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=facing-the-freshwater-crisis
and various minerals.Oh, did I mention oil & gas? http://coolantarctica.com
For now, only scientific drilling is allowed http://blogs.nature.com/news/2012/02/%E2%80%98too-soon%E2%80%99-to-confirm-success-of-antarctic-lake-drilling.html
under the Antarctic Treaty.But revisions can be requested after 2048.
Meanwhile, the Peninsula is heavily heating up Photo: Wikipedia
under (in spite of?) a gasping hole in the ozone layer. Photo: Wikipedia, courtesy of NASA, 2008
Branding seems the leastof Antarcticas problems. …but is it?
Actually, a brand is the only thing Antarctica has to defend itself… and us. Photo: Wikipedia
Damages in the very fragile Antarctic environmentcould have consequences difficult to predict.Atmospheric pressure, humidity, airtemperatures and wind patterns for ourentire planet are interconnected andgreatly influenced by processes in theSouthern Ocean.Antarctic ice reflects sunrays and thusregulates global air temperature.The Antarctic current generates anoverturning circulation (movement ofwater masses of different densitiescaused by variations in salinity andtemperature) that transports vastamounts of heat and also takes up asignificant amount of carbon dioxidefrom the atmosphere.If the Antarctic ice would melt, oceanswould rise ~60m. Source: Australian Government, Antarctic environmental report http://joannenova.com.au/2010/06/the-deep-oceans-drive-the-atmosphere
And we can do a loooot of damage. Photo source: Jalopnik.com
Nobody knows now whosgoing to have Antarcticas back in 2048. We all should.
the continent without humans could have the power to save mankind. Lets give it a hand. Lets give it a brand.