The Seventh Continent: Antarctica in a Resource Age

The Seventh Continent: Antarctica in a Resource Age

The Seventh Continent: Antarctica in a Resource Age

The Seventh Continent: Antarctica in a Resource Age

Excerpt

The purpose of this book is to present a comprehensive picture of the role of Antarctica in world affairs today. Antarctica is the earth's seventh continent and the only one without native human inhabitants. It is the only one whose mineral resources are essentially unexamined and untapped, and the only one whose living resources--found in great abundance in the continent's offshore waters--are barely so. Today, more than three-quarters of the way through the twentieth century, as man moves manufacturing facilities into space and as his probes reach the outer planets, Antarctica remains a great untouched wilderness used almost exclusively for scientific research.

But though Antarctica is the frozen continent, human activities regarding it are hardly standing still. The last decade has seen major changes in the way Antarctica is perceived, used, and governed; the next decade will see more changes. First, there is the growing international interest in Antarctica's resource potential. Also, many more nations and organizations--developing nations, public interest groups, the environmental movement--are demanding a say in the region's administration. A debate on Antarctica is under way at the United Nations. Finally, as this is written, only six years remain until 1991, the earliest date on which a review may be called of the 1961 Antarctic Treaty, which dedicates the region to peace and science and sidesteps the more difficult issues of territorial ownership, resource jurisdiction, and equity for all nations in Antarctica. Time may be running out for the traditional way Antarctica has been governed; thus a stocktaking such as this appears timely.

Of course, there is already an Antarctic literature, most of it highly specialized. There are tales of adventure, of explorers such as Robert F. Scott, Ernest Shackleton, and Richard E. Byrd; there is an extensive scientific literature and a number of articles on international law aspects. And there are picture books. This study differs from most Antarctic writing in that it focuses on the political, rather than the legal, technical, or aesthetic dimensions of the . . .

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