Home South pole ice How the world cooperates on a frozen continent without a permanent resident

How the world cooperates on a frozen continent without a permanent resident

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There are 54 signatories to the Antarctic Treaty today. However, despite the increase in numbers, the treaty did not gain strength but became more fragile. Once again, an intense wave of competition is sweeping the globe.

Amid fierce protests in parliament on Friday over rising prices, the government passed a bill focusing on a freezing continent with no permanent residents. India’s Antarctic Bill of 2022 has been approved by the Lok Sabha, allowing for the extension of national laws to Indian institutions in the frozen polar lands.
India maintains two operational research stations in Antarctica – Maitri and Bharati. Every year, India sends a group of scientists, meteorologists and researchers to the continent to conduct experiments, collect in situ samples and maintain scientific equipment there. Staff may stay several months or a year in Antarctica and their research focuses on climate change.
Scientists at India’s Maitri base, which is expected to be upgraded, are collecting and examining geological, meteorological and geophysical data to understand how climate change may be progressing not just in Antarctica, but across the rest of the world.

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It might seem a bit strange that scientists would flock to a frozen and virtually lifeless continent to study the impacts of climate change. On the contrary, Antarctica is rich in microbiological life and the ice may also act as a “fossil” for air from millions of years ago, showing scientists how temperatures have changed over the years and allowing them to predict the effects of climate change on other forms of life. based on how microorganisms react to localized temperature differences.

The Indian Antarctica Bill 2022

The bill passed this week extends Indian laws to the area occupied by Indian institutions and Indian personnel living in Antarctica. Earth Science Minister Jitendra Singh told parliament: “The main objective of the treaty was that Antarctica would not be used for military activities or that there would be no other misuse , in order to ensure the demilitarization of the area. The other purpose was to prevent nations from engaging in mining or any other illegal activity.

“It’s more or less no man’s land. No one should use this land for a nuclear explosion. Basically, its (treaty) purpose was to ensure that countries that have institutions there are limited to research or experiments related to climate and geography,” he said according to a PTI report.

The bill was slated for consideration and passage on Thursday, but due to the absence of the opposition, it was postponed until Friday for debate. Calling it an important Antarctic-related bill, Singh said it was the first time the issue had been debated and would benefit from discussion by MPs.

According to a PTI report, Bhartruhari Mahtab of Biju Janata Dal said the bill aims to promote Antarctica as a nature reserve dedicated to science and peace and to ensure that Antarctica does not become the theater of international discord.

At a time when the world is navigating a turning point and countries are recalibrating their ties amid the Ukrainian war and Chinese territorial ambitions, the world’s borders that have so far escaped the entanglement of geopolitics, especially a resource-rich region like Antarctica, are at increased risk.

Antarctic Treaty from 1959

To prevent countries from coming into conflict over Antarctica, 12 nations signed the Antarctic Treaty in 1959. India became a signatory in 1983 and set up its first station there – Dakshin Gangotri – before 1985, but it is no longer operational.

The single treaty, which has evolved over the years into a “treaty system”, establishes a rules-based international order for the entire continent. Russia and Australia are also among the original 12 signatories to the treaty which was negotiated during the Cold War era. During a period of intense strategic competition, the Antarctic Treaty was hailed as an example of consensual cooperation between countries.

There are 54 signatories to the treaty today. However, despite the increase in numbers, the treaty did not gain strength but became more fragile. Once again, an intense wave of competition is sweeping the globe.

A renewed interest in Antarctica

The Antarctic Treaty completely bans all forms of mining on the continent until 2048. However, the region is known for its oil deposits – a resource strained by the war in Ukraine, sanctions and maritime blockades. The continent also has mineral deposits and coal reserves, although none of these are commercially viable to mine. Even if the deposits turn out to be large, transporting them through ice shelves from the South Pole to other countries may not be feasible.

Yet the fact that these reserves may exist makes the region worth expanding its influence.

The West views Chinese commitments in Antarctica with suspicion and thinks it might want to exploit the treaty’s weaknesses to gain access to the region’s fish and mineral resources.

As the 2048 deadline for a 50-year mining ban approaches and more and more eyes turn to one of the most desolate but commercially unexplored places on earth, now would be a good time to revisit the treaty. and forging deeper bonds between countries to protect the Antarctic environment. and the peace of the earth.