Should Development Be Permitted in Antarctica

Topics: Antarctica, Southern Ocean, Antarctic Treaty System Pages: 6 (2170 words) Published: June 18, 2013
Antarctica is a remote continent, the fifth largest of the Earth's seven continents. It is considered the as the largest desert in the world due to the very little precipitation there, it can get up to 8 inches per year generally around the coast and less and less as you get towards inland. The southernmost, coldest, windiest, highest, most remote, and most recently discovered continent, it surrounds the South Pole, the point at the southern end of the Earth's axis. Almost completely covered by ice, Antarctica has no permanent human population. The Southern Ocean rings the continent. The continent is shaped somewhat like a comma, with a round body surrounding the pole and a tail curving toward South America. The round portion, lying mainly in the Eastern Hemisphere, makes up East Antarctica. The tail and its thickened base, located entirely in the Western Hemisphere, form West Antarctica. The total surface area is about 14.2 million sq km (about 5.5 million sq mls) in summer, approximately twice the size of Australia, half as big again as the USA and fifty times the size of the UK. Antarctica lies 1,000 km from South America, its nearest neighbour; 4,000 km from Africa; and 2,500 km from Australia. Antarctica's latitude relation and high elevations make it the coldest continent. Air temperatures of the inland regions can fall below -80C in winter and rise only to -30C during summer. The warmest coastal regions reach the freezing point in summer but drop well below in winter. The Antarctic continent is one of the harshest and most inhospitable places on earth, yet despite this a wide range of species manages to survive in the desolate landscape. By contrast, the surrounding ocean abounds with life, as nutrient rich water wells up from the depth. The ice cap in the centre holds over half the world’s fresh water. It is from within these icy depths that scientists hope to un-ravel the secrets of the long-term fluctuations in the earth's climate. As scientific research takes place, it could assist us to understand new medical advances and vital information to allow mankind move onto the next generation. Ever since Antarctica was discovered in 17th of January 1773, there has been a growing interest of scientific research and profitable oil, minerals and seafood available there. After realising that there was no way of being able to equally share the resources and retrieve the minerals without disturbing the harsh and fragile environment and ecosystem. There are few places on Earth where there has never been war, where the environment is fully protected, and where scientific research has priority. The whole of the Antarctic continent is like this. A land which the Antarctic Treaty parties call a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science. The Antarctic Treaty came into force on 23 June 1961 after the negotiation of the twelve original signatory countries then active in Antarctic science. The Treaty covers the area south of 60°S latitude. Its objectives are simple yet unique in international relations. They are: to demilitarize Antarctica, to establish it as a zone free of nuclear tests and the disposal of radioactive waste, and to ensure that it is used for peaceful purposes only, to promote international scientific cooperation in Antarctica; all scientific research has to be shared with the other countries also signed on and to set aside disputes over territorial sovereignty. Seven nations-Argentina, Australia, the United Kingdom, Chile, France, New Zealand and Norway-claim territory in Antarctica although other nations, including the United States and Russia, do not need to acknowledge these claims and make no claims of their own, but still reserve rights to claim territory in the future, since they form the twelve original signatories of the ‘ATS’. Twenty-eight nations, including the UK, have Consultative status. The Treaty parties meet each year at the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. They have adopted over 300...
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