A POLE APART: The Emerging Issue of Antarctica by Philip W. Quigg

A POLE APART: The Emerging Issue of Antarctica

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A meticulous yet pointed study--aptly titled too--that combines essential information with a host of unsuspected implications. Quigg, a foreign-affairs expert with an interest in environmental matters, lays out this situation: Under the 1961 Antarctic Treaty, military activity has been banned and territorial claims have been postponed--while scientific research has proceeded without impediment: a rare instance of cooperation among the US, the USSR, and other antagonistic nations. But the prospect of resources-exploitation now poses new questions--environmental, economic, and political. If the superabundant krill are harvested, will the resurging whale stocks surfer? Does the treaty system itself benefit the haves, and penalize the have-nots? Is Antarctica analogous with the open sea? with outer space? Quigg first reviews the era of exploration, partly to establish the basis of the territorial claims; he then notes that Antarctica, unlike the Arctic, ""is an ice-encased continent surrounded by comparatively warm water""--hence the available and not-so-available resources. He describes the findings of scientific research, pure and applied. ""Nowhere was nuclear power anticipated with greater optimism than in Antarctica, and nowhere was its failure more convincing."" (The reactor, after leaking, had to be disassembled and, with its waste, transported back to the US.) Crucially, he evaluates Antarctic resources: the great undeveloped Southern Ocean fishery; oil--and the feasibility of extracting it; hard minerals--not so hard to locate (thanks, now, to plate tectonics), nigh-impossible to get out; icebergs as a source of fresh water; even tourism. And, with some shrewd political judgments, he weighs the prospects of agreeing upon ground rules once exploitation begins. Even more than Richard Adams' enticing journey (above), a prime addition to any Antarctica collection.

Pub Date: Nov. 29th, 1982
Publisher: McGraw-Hill