Today is a day to celebrate the biosphere and all its beauty that makes us alive. Happy Earth Day all our ABCC friends and beyond.
It’s easy to lose count of the days dedicated to worthy, urgent, lifesaving and preserving issues. We need a year millions of days long to begin to remember, celebrate, advocate, honour, fight for people, places, endangered species, resources and more.
Three things to love about Antarctica, amidst countless other invaluable celebrations:
1) Antarctica was imagined before it was discovered. After it was discovered there’s so many ways it was imagined and conveyed in science and art.
Meliors Simms : Living in the Anthropocene
The South Pole on My Antarctica (shown here while still WIP) is marked with a small pearly button
“During the months I spent hand embroidering the continent of Antarctica I read a lot of Antarctic literature and learned about Amundsen. Pulling my needle in and out across the contour lines of the Axel Heilberg Glacier and across the polar plateau was a way of honouring this extraordinary man and the journey he started out on with seven other men and 86 dogs.”
Roald Amundsen and team were the first to reach the South Pole on Dec 12, 1911. “The rails of science are laid,” said Fridtjof Nansen of Amundsen’s incredible feat.
Ptolemy imagined Antarctica way back in early BC, a counterpart to the Arctic – ἀνταρκτική, in Greek.
In 650 AD, according to Rarotongan legend, a Polynesian navigator named Ui-te-Rangiora sailed so far south that he reached a place where the sea was frozen.
This was still long before the continent was spotted in 1821 by Bellingshausen, the namesake of the Research Station where Wendy and I were based for the civilian cleanup in 1995/6. We were on an island not far from what painter Ernest Goupil painted Elephant Island. Goupil accompanied France’s Dumont d’Urville on his Antarctic voyages of 1838-40. How lucky were we to work with the VIEW volunteers, the Russian Antarctic Expedition, neighbours on King George Island, to be safe, well – grâce à Wendy our resident cook and artist-in-residence – and make a small contribution to raising awareness and helping keep Antarctica clean. Our story is The Antarctic Book of Cooking and Cleaning (HarperCollins)
Ernest Goupil (1814–1839, artist), Leon Jean Baptiste sabatier (d.1887, lithographer) Île Éléphant, Îles New South Shetland 1846 lithograph; 34.5 x 54.5 cm Pictures collection nla.pic-an207996
Humans can imagine many good things and imagination, inquiry and perseverance are some of the better human qualities.
2) Law and Governance of Antarctica: Model cooperation and protection
The Antarctic Treaty, the Madrid Protocol, the Montreal Protocol, efforts to create Marine Protected Areas: what these have in common are learnings on something valuable and urgent about Antarctica, such as its waters regulating temperatures, its ecological treasures and resources that are part of the common heritage of humankind, followed by policy and lawmaking action. Imagine we not only imagined a continent that is beautiful and a balancing place, but in 1959 12 countries dedicated it to peace and science. Then governments banned mineral extraction and nuclear dumping, environmental protection and more – lets ensure those protections remain. We need to also preserve the Ross Sea as Lewis Pugh is tried to do in his Five Swims campaign.
WIkimedia Commons Lewis Pugh
3) There is much more to learn from Antarctica about earth history, climate history to inform and inspire us
This is the first image of the watery world beneath Antarctica’s glaciers (2013). It’s amazing science, discovery and innovation to be able to see this merky picture.
“The Micro-Submersible Lake Exploratiobular device about the size of a baseball bat that took the unprecedented trip to the unexplored abyss earlier this month, under the guidance of researcher Alberto Behar from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Connected to a “mothership” by nearly a mile of cable, the sub was able to return a few images of the sub-glacial pool.” from Gizmodo
What is next to know about Antarctic, earth and thus ourselves will unfold but here’s to Antarctica and earth.