Credit Liu Shiping/Xinhua, via Getty Images

Even as the United States and China confront deep disagreements, there is a global challenge that simply won’t wait for the resolution of our differences: climate change.

While some have decided that we are entering a new Cold War with China, we can still cooperate on critical mutual interests. After all, even at the height of 20th-century tensions, the Americans and the Soviets negotiated arms control agreements, which were in the interests of both countries.

Climate change, like nuclear proliferation, is a challenge of our own making — and one to which we hold the solution. We have an opportunity this month to make clear that great power rivalries aside, geopolitics must end at the water’s edge — at the icy bottom of our planet in the Southern Ocean, which surrounds the entire continent of Antarctica.…  Seguir leyendo »

La Antártida ha sido el último de los continentes en ser descubierto y colonizado por los humanos. Es, por un lado, el más frío, ventoso e inhóspito que existe y, por otro, el más inaccesible desde los centros de expansión de las civilizaciones europeas.

Por el trasiego marítimo derivado de la amplitud de los dominios geográficos españoles en la historia, con mucha probabilidad fueron nuestros navegantes quienes lo avistaron por primera vez, cuando en 1603 el navío Buena Nueva, al mando de Gabriel de Castilla, se adentró hasta muy al sur a través del mar de Hoces o Paso de Drake.…  Seguir leyendo »

Borge Ousland, 33, of Norway at the South Pole in 1996.CreditCreditKetil Soyland/Associated Press

Last week, after a marathon closing dash of 77.5 miles during 32 sleepless hours, the American Colin O’Brady stormed to the finish line at the foot of the Leverett Glacier to claim the first solo, unsupported traverse of Antarctica — a challenge Mr. O’Brady had called The Impossible First. Two days later, culminating a rivalry that commentators likened to the race between Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen to reach the South Pole in 1911-12, Louis Rudd of Britain finished the same arduous journey of more than 920 miles across the frozen continent, surviving brutal winds, whiteouts, crevasse scares and temperatures below minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit.…  Seguir leyendo »

Un pingüino adelaida, una de dos especies de pingüinos que viven en la Antártida, en el este del continente Credit Pauline Askin/Reuters

El océano austral de Antártida ha sido explotado por su abundancia, en todos los niveles de la cadena alimenticia, durante más de doscientos años. Los cazadores de focas llegaron a finales del siglo XVIII y para 1825 el lobo fino estaba cerca de la extinción. Los cazadores entonces se enfocaron en otras especies de foca y en los pingüinos para extraer los aceites de su cuerpo. La caza de ballenas comenzó a principios del siglo XX y la presión ejercida por la caza alejó a algunas especies de las aguas antárticas.

Incluso son recogidas cientos de miles de toneladas anuales de kril, aquellas criaturas parecidas al camarón que son una fuente de alimento clave para ballenas, pingüinos, focas y aves marinas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Un pingüino adelaida, una de dos especies de pingüinos que viven en la Antártida, en el este del continente Credit Pauline Askin/Reuters

Antarctica’s Southern Ocean has been exploited for its teeming bounty, from the top of its food chain to the bottom, for more than 200 years. Seal hunters arrived there in the late 1700s and by 1825 fur seals were nearing extinction. Hunters then turned to other seal species, and to penguins, to extract oil from their body fat. Whaling arrived at the turn of the 20th century, with the hunting pressure driving some species from Antarctic waters.

Even krill, the tiny shrimplike creatures that are a key source of food to whales, penguins, seals and seabirds, are being scooped up in hundreds of thousands of tons per year.…  Seguir leyendo »

Las observaciones por satélite realizadas recientemente han confirmado la precisión de dos simulaciones por ordenador independientes que muestran que la capa de hielo de la Antártida occidental ha entrado en una etapa de colapso irrevocable. El planeta ha comenzado una nueva era de irreversibles consecuencias del cambio climático. La única pregunta que nos queda por hacer es si podremos hacer lo suficiente para evitar que vuelva a ocurrir en otros lugares.

Los últimos estudios revelan que hay zonas cruciales del sistema climático del mundo que, a pesar de su gran tamaño, son tan frágiles que la actividad humana puede perturbarlas irremediablemente.…  Seguir leyendo »

It was far better to ski toward the South Pole than to reach it.

When I started out my journey in November 1992, everything was white all the way out to the horizon. As the weeks passed, I began to see more colors: variations of white, a bit of blue, green and yellow. By the time the strange-looking buildings of the Amundsen-Scott base appeared on the horizon 50 days later, I felt relief but also disappointment, and thought about skiing past it, back into the white nothingness.

The South Pole was considered the last place on earth when a fellow Norwegian, Roald Amundsen, arrived with four companions, a few dozen dogs and four sledges 100 years ago today.…  Seguir leyendo »

A desolate island in a frozen sea brings the world’s nations together with a new type of agreement: one giving an international commission the right to govern a landmass through unanimous vote. The year was 1912; the subject was the island of Spitsbergen in the Arctic Ocean. Thereafter, it and the surrounding archipelago were to belong to no nation, its natural resources open to all.

That agreement was no doubt on the minds of the drafters of the Antarctic Treaty, which was signed to much fanfare 50 years ago Tuesday by 12 nations: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Britain, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the Soviet Union and the United States.…  Seguir leyendo »

Sitting on my desk is an illegal acquisition, a black pebble the size of a walnut. I picked it up some years ago on the slopes of Cape Crozier on Ross Island in the Antarctic. This vast wilderness of rock and ice lies on a cliff overlooking the Ross Sea and is celebrated as destination of the "worst journey in the world".

This was the title of the book written by Apsley Cherry-Garrard about a trip taken by him and two colleagues from Scott's 1911 polar expedition to acquire the eggs of the Emperor penguin. The storm shelter of stones, canvas and bits of sledge from which they barely escaped alive still lies on the cape, literally frozen in time.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Simon Jenkins (THE GUARDIAN, 28/04/06):

There is nowhere on earth more British than 77° south 166° east. On the shores of Ross Island in Antarctica stand three wooden huts intact from one of the classic episodes of British history, the race to the south pole between Scott and Shackleton. Two of the huts, Shackleton's at Cape Royds (1908) and Scott's at Cape Evans (1911), are still full of their icebound supplies left in case of either's return.

Both men, the moody, dedicated Scott and the charismatic Shackleton, endured intense privation on their way to their respective failures. Scott was beaten to the pole by the Norwegian Amundsen and Shackleton failed to make his second, transantarctic crossing.…  Seguir leyendo »