Our latest campaign, We Are Antarctica, calls for people to explore their relationship with Antarctica and discover their role in her future. But what is really happening to Antarctica? How will it affect the rest of the planet? And what can we do to take action?
What's happening to Antarctica?
Climate change will touch every corner of the planet. Its effect however, will be strongest at the extremes of Earth’s many biomes. In parts of Antarctica the climate is warming at three times the rate of other places. This is leading to dramatic changes in the Antarctic ecosystem such as the reduction of sea ice cover, the melting of glaciers and the migration of krill, seals and penguins. In addition to this, Antarctica suffers from the same challenges grappled with elsewhere on the planet with pollution, overfishing and biodiversity loss threatening this already fragile ecosystem.
How will this affect the rest of the planet?
Antarctica’s cold climate plays a key role in global weather systems both in the atmosphere and in the world’s oceans. The Southern Ocean around Antarctica is particularly good at absorbing carbon and is crucial in driving a conveyor belt of warm ocean water around the world. The ice-covered exterior of Antarctica also helps to reflect large amounts of sunlight contributing to global cooling. This means that as Antarctica warms, its ability to cool the planet and absorb carbon will be lessened. At the same time, it may destabilise global weather systems including an increase in the frequency of extreme weather events. And, as large portions of Antarctica’s ice sheets melt, global sea levels may rise by 2 to 10 feet.
How can we protect Antarctica?
Protecting Antarctica is about ensuring the continent is safe from exploitation from fishing, pollution, mining and other extractive activities. The Antarctic treaty prevents much of this exploitation, however it doesn’t protect key areas of the southern ocean and is only signed by 54 countries. Greenpeace are calling for the UN to enact plans for a global ocean treaty that protects key areas of the southern ocean. We should also seek to expand the signatories of the Antarctic treaty to include all of Earth’s nations.
Perhaps most importantly, we must push for action on climate change. With Antarctica being most at risk from human induced global warming. It’s our responsibility to push for rapidly reducing carbon emissions at local, national and international levels. Speed is of the essence here because, as one of Earth’s most extreme environments, Antarctica is set to feel the effects of climate change faster and more keenly than other places.
How can I take action?
Firstly, we need to stop and connect with the challenges Antarctica faces. Watch our campaign film to explore your relationship with this wild continent and consider your role in her future.
Secondly, change starts with a conversation. Antarctica needs a voice in conversations where it has been absent so that the desires and needs of its inhabitants are taken into account. Sign-up for a free guided conversation or purchase a pack of Connection Cards to host your own.
Lastly, we can all use our skills, experience and talents to take action for our shared future. Make a pledge for the planet which helps to address the challenges Antarctica is facing.