Environmental Protection

When the Well's dry, we know the Worth of Water.

—Benjamin Franklin (1746), Poor Richard's Almanack multiple-use resources

Humans are intimately linked to the physical, geological, chemical, and biological elements of the Earth's environment (Figs. II and III). We breathe the air and drink the water. We eat food from land and sea. We seek materials to clothe and shelter us. We build vast cities with technologies that are powered by diverse sources of energy. The resources for our civilization come from anywhere we find them—including remote and relatively inaccessible environments such as the deep sea, outer space, and Antarctica. The challenge of environmental protection is associated with managing distinct resource activities individually and collectively with a view centuries into the future.

Just as ''no man is an island, entire of itself'' (as noted by John Donne in the 17th century), resource activities are not conducted in isolation. When living resources are harvested, impacts propagate through dependent and associated ecosystems (Chapter 10: Ecosystem Conservation). When nonliving resources are exploited, impacts radiate through environments as well as ecosystems. Moreover, resource activities generate impacts that influence the dynamics of nations within the international community—extending beyond political boundaries across the Earth system.

How can humankind exploit and protect natural resources at the same time?

In the international context of the Earth system, Antarctica is an ideal illustration of diverse stakeholders interacting with ''multiple uses'' of a region and its resources. As discussed earlier, for a couple of centuries, Antarctica has been affording humankind a rich bounty of living resources. Similarly, during the past 100 years, Antarctica has emerged as a unique international laboratory for humankind to generate scientific insights about the dynamics of myriad natural phenomena across time and space (Fig. 6.1). Over the past few decades, additional interest in using Antarctica and its resources has arisen. The coupled impacts among the environments, ecosystems, and stakeholders who use them in Antarctica have become visionary lessons with global implications.

A principal resource of Antarctica, for science and society, is its relatively pristine nature (Figs. III and IV). Since the International Geophysical Year (IGY) in 1957-58, Antarctica has been occupied continuously for ''scientific investigation'' within the scope of the Antarctic Treaty System (Chapter 4: Awakening Science and Chapter 5: International Stewardship). Among the 55 IGY research stations around Antarctica (Fig. 11.1), 12 were still in operation in 1998 (Fig. 5.2): Amundsen-Scott (United States), Davis (Australia), Dumont D'Urville (France), Esperanza (Argentina), General Bernardo O'Higgins (Chile), General San Martin (Argentina), McMurdo (United States), Mawson (Australia), Mirny (Russia), Scott (New Zealand), Syowa (Japan), and Vostok (Russia). ''Active and influential presence in Antarctica'' based on scientific investigation is further illustrated by the continuous commitment of nations such as the United States, which has the largest program on the continent (Fig. 11.2). Although science has remained as the essential ingredient for ''international cooperation'' in Antarctica, the principal human presence in Antarctica began shifting in the 1980s.

More people began visiting Antarctica, not for scientific investigation, but just for its aesthetic beauty—to gather only memories of viewing penguin and seal rookeries or pods of whales patrolling the ice edge, of icebergs from vast streaming glaciers near remote research stations, of historic monuments and other sites of special tourist interest. People also have been visiting Antarctica to set records of endurance because, as stated by Sir Edmund Hillary in 1968, ''a demanding and constructive adventure is worthwhile for its own sake.''

Beginning with the Argentine and Chilean cruises down to the Antarctic Peninsula in the 1950s, Antarctic tourism now ranges across the entire continent. According to the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators, in 19992000 alone, there were tourists visiting Antarctica from at least 70 nations (Table 11.1). Moreover, the scope of Antarctic tourism has continued to expand geometrically, with nearly 15,000 individuals journeying southward each year at the dawn of the 21st century (Fig. 11.3). Consequently, tourism has become an enormous resource activity as the single largest source of human presence on Antarctica.

Nearly 99% of Antarctic tourists travel by ship, concentrating in coastal areas during the summer from November to March when there is minimal sea ice (Fig. 8.1) as well as access to open water for viewing the wildlife. Visits ashore generally are short (less than 3 hours) and moderate intensity (fewer than 100

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