Showing posts with label Antarctica. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Antarctica. Show all posts

Friday, February 28, 2014

Who Owns the South Pole - Polarisation

Antarctica and the Arctic are the focus of global hunger for untapped resources. As the Antarctic Treaty has grown in recent decades, some nations eager to join it and build bases in Antarctica appear to have long-term interest in the continent's mineral and energy resources.  The southern continent has been governed since 1961 by the Antarctic Treaty, a creation of the cold war, intended to prevent US-Soviet tensions from spilling into the region. The treaty enforces environmental regulations, allows nations to inspect each other's bases, and requires sharing of scientific data. It started with 12 nations, but now includes 28. Seven nations claim sovereignty rights to parts of Antactica.  Just as people playing the board game Monopoly profit by building a house on Park Place or Boardwalk, countries building a station and conducting research in Antarctica can obtain treaty membership and influence. Conditions in Antarctica will be tough, but rising commodity prices and improving technology may eventually make it worthwhile. Antarctica may hold plenty of mineral resources. Three hundred million years ago, it lay at the center of a supercontinent, Gondwana, which also included South America, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. Folding of Earth's crust caused plumes of magma and superheated fluids to rise, concentrating minerals near the surface of Gondwana: copper, tin, silver, lead, and zinc along what are now the South American Andes; and gold, copper, lead, zinc, nickel, and cobalt in southeastern Australia.

"That motivates a lot of these countries to build a research station there and to fund some kind of scientific research," says Dag Avango, a science and industrial historian at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. "It is about being a part of a larger international community that can make decisions about the future of Antarctica." This includes decisions about how and when Antarctica's natural resources should be harvested. For the moment, this includes only fishing in the ocean waters around the continent. Antarctic krill have been fished for decades; they're used in commercial fish feeds and omega-3 fatty acid dietary supplements.

A ban on mining and drilling is enforced until 2048.

"The question of mineral exploitation hasn't gone away in Antarctica," says Anne-Marie Brady, a specialist in polar politics at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.  "The mainstream point of view" in China, she says, "is that it's only a matter of time that Antarctic minerals and energy resources will be exploited."

"It's globalization," says Lawson Brigham, a retired US Coast Guard icebreaker captain and now professor of geography and Arctic policy at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. "Higher commodity prices will drive frontier development."

Every nation that hopes to play a role in shaping the future of the poles – whether for exploitation, territory, or conservation – will require certain strategic assets: scientific research that maintains prestige and expertise; well-placed ports, airfields, and research bases in the polar regions; experience landing and launching large military cargo planes on glacial ice; and, of course, icebreakers.

Antarctica differs vastly from the Arctic. The Arctic consists largely of a sea covered by ice that averages six feet thick, fringed by the northernmost territories of three continents; the Antarctic consists of a lone continent isolated by a ring of turbulent seas. While Arctic sea ice is disappearing quickly, the continent of Antarctica is 98 percent covered by glacial ice thousands of feet thick; it contains most of the world's fresh water. Even as Antarctica sheds 200 billion tons of ice per year, contributing to sea-level rise, the immediate effect on human activity there is negligible.

In 1977 an American businessman began importing a new fish from South America to the US: a monstrosity with leathery lips and a mouth evolved for sucking up prey in the blink of an eye – the kind of looks you'd expect of a fish that lurks in the dark, as deep as 13,000 feet. Slicing the fish into skinless fillets relieved it of its appearance, and the businessman erased its last vestige of ugliness by changing its name from Patagonian toothfish to Chilean sea bass. The fish was a hit in restaurants, prompting fishermen to look for it in other places. Their attention eventually turned to a closely related species, the Antarctic toothfish, which inhabits the world's southernmost waters. Commercial harvesting of Antarctic toothfish began in 1996, in Antarctica's Ross Sea.
From here 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

China at the South Pole

China is boosting its presence in Antarctica with an eye on the icy continent’s vast untapped resources, even though it could take 35 years to start exploiting them. Antarctic Treaty members, which include China, have agreed not to exploit Antarctic resources until 2048, but there is nothing to stop them doing geographical surveys.  China already has as many permanent research stations as the U.S. in Antarctica — including the Great Wall Station on King George Island off the Antarctic Peninsula, Zhongshan (Sun Yat-Sen) Station in the east and Kunlun Station in the interior. Now the Chinese appear poised to start work on a fourth station close to the main U.S. base — McMurdo Station — in a part of Antarctica known as the Ross Dependency that is administered by New Zealand.

 Anne-Marie Brady, a political science professor at New Zealand’s Canterbury University and editor of The Polar Journal, wrote in a recently published research paper that China is clearly interested in Antarctic resources, which range from minerals to meteorites, intellectual property from bio-prospecting, locations for scientific bases, fisheries and tourism access. “As an energy-hungry nation, China is extremely interested in the resources of Antarctica (and the Arctic) and any possibilities for their exploitation,” Brady wrote. Chinese-language polar social science discussions are dominated by debates about Antarctic resources and how China might gain its share, she wrote. “Such discussions are virtually taboo in the scholarly research of more established Antarctic powers,” she wrote. Numerous newspaper reports in Chinese have alleged that some countries are already prospecting in Antarctica under the cover of scientific research, Brady said. In Chinese-language debates, scholars, government officials and journalists appear to agree that the exploitation of Antarctica is only a matter of time and that China be ready, she said.

Texas A&M University oceanographer and Antarctic researcher Chuck Kennicutt II said it would be expensive to recover oil and gas from Antarctica but that a spike in oil prices could make it economically viable.

 The increased Antarctic research activity by developing nations is partly driven by interest in the Arctic, which could soon be ice-free in summer, Kennicutt said. Many nations, not just those with northern territories, are interested in the economic and security potential of northeast and northwest passages, he said. “It is not just economic but also in regard to the whole balance of power and the military implications in terms of national security and homeland security,” he said.

In January, The Associated Press reported that the icebreaker Xuelong (Snow Dragon) had become the first Chinese vessel to cross the Arctic Ocean. According to the state-controlled China Daily newspaper, China will launch its second icebreaker in 2014. In summer, Arctic shipping routes between China and Europe are 40 percent faster than those through the Indian Ocean, Suez Canal and Mediterranean Sea.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Who Owns the SOUTH Pole

A switch from our usual pole.

  No one owns Antarctica, although a few countries persist in maintaining their frozen claims to slices of the continent for research and scientific purposes in line with the Antarctic Treaty. In reality, the international community is responsible for the region, operating through the Antarctic Treaty and its related agreements. The International Maritime Organization (IMO), the UN body responsible for regulating shipping internationally, designated the Southern Ocean as a "special area"

Many parts of Antarctica have been coming under increasing pressure as the growing global demand for sea food means the region's rich resources are increasingly targeted. There are fishing boats, both legal and illegal, including a new breed that vacuum krill from the sea. 

The United States and New Zealand put forward competing plans to create a marine protected area of 1.6 million square kilometres in the Ross Sea. Another proposal would have created a reserve zone around East Antarctica - At around 1.9 million square kilometres, it would have covered an area almost three times the size of France.

For the past two weeks the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, made up of representatives from 24 governments and the European Union, has been meeting in Australia and has failed to reach agreement on new marine protected areas for the Antarctic ocean. They have deferred a decision until July 2013. Environmental groups blame Russia, China and Ukraine for blocking agreement.

"There are competing interests, in terms of commercial interests and in terms of the economic control of these areas"
Steve Campbell of the Antarctic Ocean Alliance stated.

As long as power and money rule our lives the planet will never stand a chance! We talk about protecting the planet but what does that mean? Governments are more interested in protecting what share holders make. The bottom line is profits. As long as we continue to think that profits are more important than our future, the condition of this planet will get so bad it will be too late to save it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Chinese in Antarctica

Further to this post on our companion blog Socialism Or Your Money Back , the BBC reports that China is building its third research station in Antarctica, shoring up its presence just weeks after the UK and Chile made renewed territorial claims. Argentina has also said it intends to present a claim to the UN.
Almost 200 construction workers are heading for the southern continent, the state-run Xinhua news agency says. They will build facilities including a space observatory, radar station and sewage discharge system.

Mineral mining is banned in Antarctica, but analysts say this is not stopping countries from jockeying for position. Competition for territorial and economic rights has heated up as melting polar ice caps have introduced the possibility of exploiting the previously inaccessible seabed. Countries have until May 2009 to ask the United Nations to consider their right to the seabed.