Antarctica: The Next Frontier


Hey, I wasn't quite sure exactly where to put this, so I created a new thread.

Cruise ship tours are now regularly going to the Antartica, but I'm sure many people here already knew that.

What an experience!

Still, our being there has posed a threat to this rich, magical, virtually uncorrupted land. An international treaty prohibits any waste disposal, oil-drilling or other potentially harmful activity here. Ironically, in the recent past, most of the damage was caused by science bases stationed here for the purpose of conducting scientific studies--until they were told to clean up their act!

Science is not the only viable means of learning about new places, especially when it comes to the internalization of the spiritual essence of such places. There's more to a place than its physical composition. That's the point made by these tour participants (guides and tourists alike). If you stop to "study" it, you might miss what's really important.

There are a lot of people who would not like to see this place endangered but to be kept pure and untainted by human imperialism. No excuses--not even "money" issues! Let's enjoy it, not destroy it!

In any case, that's the sum of the article. I just thought I would share.

Take a look: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=88956176
 
It's not just in the Antarctic that cruises are taking place. From The Miami Herald:

Alaska: Small-ship cruises seek ancient ice in Prince William Sound
quote:

PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND, Alaska -- The first five objects to strike the hull were, in order, a case of beer, a row boat, a TV set, a refrigerator and a 1957 Chevy (cherry red with whitewalls).

Then a condo duplex.

At least that's how it sounded inside my cabin on the Bargain Basement Deck of the Spirit of Columbia, where at 6:30 a.m. my head lay inches from a steel hull being battered mercilessly by prehistoric blue ice.

Did this captain even see Titanic?
More at http://www.miamiherald.com/986/story/470786.html
 
Hey, Mike,

What is your perspective on issue dealing with the science stations having affected the purity of the Antarctic and other remote areas of ice? Do you see it as a legitimate claim or jumping the gun? Also: the international treaty to keep this area uncontaminated and unexploited? Just curious.
 
>>What is your perspective on issue dealing with the science stations having affected the purity of the Antarctic and other remote areas of ice?<<

I really don't know enough about it to have a take one way or the other. Obviously, if it's a problem, it needs to be dealt with so it's no longer a problem. I don't know if that's going to be easy as it's impossible for people to not have an impact wherever they turn up.

>>Also: the international treaty to keep this area uncontaminated and unexploited?<<

I don't know that this treaty is going to hold up in the long haul, like if oil is found down there. The Arctic is already becoming a bone of contention for just this reason.
 
From The Hellenic Shipping News:

New call for residual-fuel ban in Antarctic waters
quote:

There has been a fresh call for shipping in Antarctic waters to be banned from using residual bunker fuel. Reports on Monday said that the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC) wants the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to take "urgent and comprehensive'' action.
More at http://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3090&Itemid=79

Comment: Mark Hopkins should appriciate this.​
 
Thanks for sharing, Mike. That was both interesting and alarming.


quote:

a spill of fuel oil would have a significant environmental impact as the fuel would coalesce in the cold water, making it exceptionally difficult to clean up. There have been at least six shipping incidents in little more than a year which carried a risk of major contamination in Antarctic waters

It is so unfortunate that no part of the earth is safe from the contamination of human activity. A ban is a great first-step, but I fear it might not be enough. Persistent fishermen and cruise ship conglomerates tend to find their way around such ordinances, even stretching to the point of behaving covertly.

As for energy sources, is oil the only option, or can ships, when venturing to certain areas, utilize alternative non-contaminating forms of fuel?​
 
>>A ban is a great first-step, but I fear it might not be enough.<<

A ban is only as good as everybody's willingness to abide by it and at the moment, that just doesn't seem all that likely.

>>As for energy sources, is oil the only option,<<

For the time being, yes. Research is always ongoing and you might want to keep an eye on the thread I have going on environmental issues and alternative fuels. The real trick is going to be finding a way to produce fuel that results in a net gain in energy and that's not where the state of the art is at the moment.
 
quote:

A ban is only as good as everybody's willingness to abide by it and at the moment, that just doesn't seem all that likely.

Laws are the same way. They quite often require adjustments and modifications. Unfortunately, it takes damage first to show how imperfect or inadequate such laws really are. Making improvements in that area after-the-fact seems pointless, since the damage, as said, is done.

How can laws take into account unknown insight?


quote:

you might want to keep an eye on the thread I have going on environmental issues and alternative fuels.

I've seen it in this folder. I certainly will.


quote:

The real trick is going to be finding a way to produce fuel that results in a net gain in energy

By that time, there might not be any uncontaminated areas left in the world. Having the Antarctic waters constantly monitored would no good either, since those doing the monitoring are likely to cause damage, through fuel expense or other means. Besides, which country or nation would take up the duty to the satisfaction of every other country? (rhetorical)​
 
>>Besides, which country or nation would take up the duty to the satisfaction of every other country? (rhetorical)<<

Rgeotorical perhaps but a valid question. Take a look at what's happening in the Arctic region right now. The question, now that more ice is melting off rather then being replenished, is how do they get to the resources which are there and who has the rights to them?

Somewhere a balance needs to be struck.
 
quote:

how do they get to the resources which are there and who has the rights to them?

First, let's identify those resources. What are they and what benefit would they serve to humanity? If those resources aren't crucial to our survival, should we really need to go after them? Maybe the melting ice is trying to tell us something.

As to who has the rights, maybe everybody. But still, that would create too much confusion and conflict, which we don't need. Sometimes our environment can help us best by not being touched because it remains untainted.


quote:

Somewhere a balance needs to be struck.

Yes, but what kind?​
 
>>What are they and what benefit would they serve to humanity?<<

In a nutshell, oil. Pretty vital stuff when you think about it as there is literally nothing you do that isn't touched by oil on some level. With known reserves expected to be depleted by the end of this century, the competition for whatever is left will become pretty keen.
 
From The BBC:

Backing for Antarctic ship review
quote:

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has invited nations to submit proposals to limit shipping's impact on Antarctica's unique environment.

The IMO's environment committee recognised campaigners' fears that the continent's waters were at risk from the rising number of ships in the area.

Environmentalists said the sinking of the M/S Explorer in 2007 was a wake-up call to tighten rules in the region.
Full story at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7334816.stm
 
From Rolls Royce:

Rolls-Royce design selected for Polar research vessel
quote:

Rolls-Royce has been selected to design a research vessel to carry out significant environmental research at both the North and South Poles.

The vessel will be outfitted to cover a wide range of marine research operations, such as monitoring fishing stocks, metreological studies, sea floor sampling and mapping.
For the rest, go to http://www.rolls-royce.com/media/showPR.jsp?PR_ID=40640
 
Despite the efforts of the IMO and the newly revised regulations, I get the deep feeling that the search for oil with push many to act persistently to strip the Antarctica of its natural resources, regardless of emissions and oil spills.

It's as if the acquisition of oil is far important to some than following rules/laws and being careful not to contaminate the region.


I wonder if these new ships made by Rolls Royce will be environmentally sound. One purpose for them is to guard these regions, yet another is to conduct studies. Would one of those "studies" involve extracting oil from the land?

If they can proceed carefully and within a means of posing a minimal threat to the region, more power to them, but I still fear that it won't do any good. I can see the faces of many desperate nations wetting their lips with their tongue as if to say, "hmm, now how do we get there and get that oil? There's got to be a way. We need that oil."

Greed and imperialism never cede to safety, cleanliness and reason.
 
quote:

The real trick is going to be finding a way to produce fuel that results in a net gain in energy

Well, new forms of fuel better be developed and quick. Oil, coal and petrol burning is destructive, and these fuel sources won't last forever. I only hope that safer, more economical forms of fuel will be utilized before our planet is torn to shreds and contaminated by the use of the fuels we have now.​
 
>>Would one of those "studies" involve extracting oil from the land?<<

At some point, it probably will, but these ships won't be doing it since they are in no sense equipped to do any exploratory drilling.

>>Greed and imperialism never cede to safety, cleanliness and reason.<<

I don't know that greed or imperialism have that much to do with it. Think about it...think about it carefully. What can we do these days which isn't touched by oil? The answer is: Not very damned much. The whole world economy is based on oil.
 
quote:

What can we do these days which isn't touched by oil? The answer is: Not very damned much. The whole world economy is based on oil.

Well, I can think of a few things that don't rely on oil. With the prices skyrocketing and the problems we've been having with the middle east--not to mention the health dangers that the substance poses--oil supply in the world won't last, especially considering how much of it we use. It's much like the water. This is why I think it's prudent that we start looking for/developing alternative forms of energy. If we don't, we'll wind up in trouble.

Of course, as financially lucrative as the oil industry is, that's not likely to happen any time soon, unless those who capitalize on oil with find a way to monopolize on something else.​
 
>>Well, I can think of a few things that don't rely on oil.<<

There aren't many. Agriculture? Think of pesticides and fertilizer. That comes from petrochemicals derived from oil. Every aspect of transportation and industry, that's oil.

Pharmacuticals...oil again in a wide veriety of chemicals.

Plastics? Oil again!

Textiles? Oil again, either as synthetics or in power, that's oil. Whether we like it or not, the whole of the world economy in nearly every aspect is built on the stuff.

Obviously, it won't last but the question is whether or not anybody can come up with any sort of viable alternative. I'd like to think that somebody can.

They had better since our grandchildren will be swinging from the trees if it doesn't happen.
 
quote:

They had better since our grandchildren will be swinging from the trees if it doesn't happen.

You know, I couldn't help thinking of The Planet of Apes. Let's hope something happens, hehe. The problem is that we've become so reliant on oil that it seems no one is bothering to look for alternatives. A 13th-hour scramble resolution is likely to be the case.​
 
>>The problem is that we've become so reliant on oil that it seems no one is bothering to look for alternatives.<<

Not entirely accurate. There are people out there looking for alternatives but one of the problems at the moment is that much of what is out there which shows even a lick of real promise are not economically viable or even close to being mature, and some ideas, such as hydrogen, are little more then panaceas.

Fusion power could do the trick for the long haul, but nobody has figured out how to make the reaction self sustaining and controllable.
 
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