Ruling Antarctica

Ruling Antarctica

On first coming to Argentina, I was amused to find that every map of the country included a little pie-slice of Antarctica. Whether it was the bus map, the television weather forecast, or the Aerolineas Argentinas in-flight magazine, no map of Argentina was complete without the two dots of the Falklands Islas Malvinas and a little inset in the corner showing a blank wedge of Antarctica, much in the way American maps will sometimes show Alaska. [...]

We've been conditioned by National Geographic and the Discovery channel to speak of Antarctica in hushed superlatives and treat it as an awesome spectacle of God's Creation. But it is worth pointing out that Antarctica is an armpit. By any objective standard, the place is cold, sterile, windy, dry, and has no night life to speak of. The nearest land mass is remote and windy Tierra del Fuego, which nevertheless comes out looking like Las Vegas by comparison. The only people genuinely excited about Antarctica are climatologists, who inevitably go there just to make dire discoveries that bring everybody else down, and astronomers, who resent human settlement and the atmosphere and are overjoyed to find a place with very little of either. Exobiologists get very excited about Antarctica as a laboratory for what life might look like in more exotic environments, like Mars or the moons of Jupiter, but this just serves as a useful reminder that life on earth has decided to take a pass on Antarctica. In a world where entire species of ants specialize in X-treme environments like 130 degree Nubian sands, the largest land species to choose Antarctica is a midge. This is not prime real estate, no matter how nice that wedge looks on the map.

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23 Responses:

  1. dmlaenker says:

    It's funny, Argentina has very similar whacked-out imperialistic tendencies as the United States. Which is probably why we had to destroy their economy.

  2. Just wait until they find oil underneath the newly melted icecap. And they're aren't even indigenous populations we have to slaughter to get it. Just other

    • jwz says:

      Way to follow up without actually reading the linked article, dude.

      • what? there aren't natives, and the UN treaty of antarctica is just like the treaties covering the rest of the solar system, pointless and amicable until someone really want's and/or needs the resources.

        • jwz says:

          That's not what I meant; he talked about oil in the article. They know there's oil, they just can't afford to get to it (compared to other existing super-expensive oil options).

    • dsgood says:

      Actually, there are native-born Antarcticans. As I understand it, one-third of them speak the Argentine version of Spanish and two-thirds Chilean Spanish.

  3. nyankolove says: map of Argentina was complete without the two dots of the Falklands Islas Malvinas and a little inset in the corner showing a blank wedge of Antarctica, much in the way American maps will sometimes show Alaska.

    um, no. that is not the same thing at all.

    • flaterik says:

      The fact that it's displayed in an inset is, in fact, very similar.

      • nyankolove says:

        oh, haha. see, i interpreted that sentence to be a comparison between argentina's apparently tenuous claim on a shred of barren wasteland with america's relationship with alaska. i guess that was pretty cynical of me...

  4. basal_surge says:

    I've been knocking around the southern hemisphere as a hard-rock geologist for half of my life now, and there's actually quite a lot of stuff in Antarctica thats fairly mineable at the moment, with current tech. There's a lot of coal in the Ross sea dependency, and the Dufek Massif looks to be rich in platinum group elements. Also, I've heard more than one oil man say something along the lines of 'Hell, the only reason we wanted Alaska was so we could tool-up for Antarctica.'

    Currently, the coal wouldn't be economic to mine, nor would the oil, but the platinum would be, easily so.

    • korgmeister says:

      But where do you find the workers?

      I mean, once you get over the logistical and regulatory nightmares involved with setting up a viable mining operation there, where the hell do you find people experienced enough in both mining and extreme cold-weather survival who will be willing to do this?

      I bet they're not going to come cheap. And no, slaves, both of the literal and economic variety will almost certainly die too much to be useful.

      • taffer says:

        Not to mention all the damn aliens (and these). Or the dangerous artifacts...

      • basal_surge says:

        Same places we find the workers for all the other nasty places in the world that I've worked. I've worked in mines in 50 degrees C heat in the outback, and I've worked in mines in high alpine terrane where it's sub-zero for significant parts of the year, and the katiabatic winds are nasty. People who work in mines are used to nasty conditions (although not so much here in Australia. Your mines are like a pleasant holiday in a good hotel). For mining in Antarctica, as I mentioned, I'd go for the platinum group elements only (small volume, stupidly high value), and I'd go for workers recruited from Siberian, Canadian and Alaskan hardrock arctic backgrounds. I'd recruit my mine engineers and geologists from southern hemisphere Gondwana specialists, preferably old Chile and Patagonia hands.

  5. This article linked to New Swabia which has taken me via Esoteric Hitlerism and now I know about the Nazi Moon Base! I love the hours of fun reading crap that Wikipedia provides.

  6. spudtater says:

    > the largest land species to choose Antarctica is a midge.

    A midge is a land species, but a penguin isn't?

  7. lorisz says:

    "This display pales next to the stunts that have been pulled in Antarctica. In 1978, Argentina sent a military officer and his pregnant wife over so that the first child born in Antarctica would be an Argentine. They also sent a super-secret military expedition to the South Pole in the 1960's, to demonstrate their pole-reaching capability."

    (Quote from the article)

    You wouldn't believe how much of this shit you have to deal with when you're living down here... the "yes, whe have the world's longest and widest avenue!" attitude. Oh well, I guess they have to contempt themselves with something...