Who Controls Antarctica? |Â Mystery of the 7th Continent |Â Dhruv RatheeAug 18, 2022
Hello friends! Antarctica is the only
continentthat is not a country, it has no government or indigenous tribes that have lived for centuries. One of the most obvious reasons is that it is the coldest
continentin the world. The temperate temperature can reach -89°C. Furthermore, it is also the windiest place on Earth. With snow storms at a speed of 300 km/h. It can blind you. Antarctica is also the driest continent in the world. To the point that you will be surprised to know that it is considered a desert. It only rains about 51mm here, and even when it does rain, it turns to snow before reaching the ground.
In some ways, Antarctica is the only place on Earth with little to no human influence. But that doesn't mean countries around the world haven't tried to take over Antarctica. Look at this map. France claims this part of Antarctica, Norway claims this part, Australia claims the entire part on the right side. Countries such as Great Britain, Chile, Argentina and New Zealand claim various parts of Antarctica. So is Antarctica really divided between these countries? In today's video let's learn about the interesting geopolitics and history of Antarctica. "Antarctica. A composite portrait of a continent that has challenged man since he could navigate beyond the limits of his horizon." "The Antarctic continent is surrounded by frozen seas.
The south, the bottom of the world, is considerably colder than the top of the world." "Missions to study the strange wonders of Antarctica." "Because the song of the secrets of Antarctica is nothing more than one piece of the great puzzle that challenges man in every corner of the universe." Let's start our story from the beginning. It was around 350 BC. when the Greek philosopher Aristotle was one of the first to say that the Earth was spherical. At that time, the Greeks knew the northern arctic regions. They had called him Arctos. The word 'Arctos' is derived from the bear.
The constellations that we can observe in the sky, one of them is the Big Dipper, were inspired by that constellation and called the Arctic region, Arctos. Since they knew that the Earth is spherical, they knew that the North and South are like mirror images and would have similar characteristics. That is why they called the unknown southern region Antarctos. It meant the antithesis of the bear. The opposite of Arctos. And from there the name Antarctica arose. Humans first set foot on Antarctica during the 1890s, but hundreds of years earlier, Antarctica had begun to appear on maps. When various explorers went on expeditions around the world, they knew that if they went to the South of the world, they would find a land.
But they didn't know exactly what was on the ground. Or how big it is. Therefore, when French explorers made the world map in 1530, they had drawn Antarctica. Look at this map. The northern hemisphere is represented on the left side. And the southern hemisphere on the right side. The largest land mass in the center of the Southern Hemisphere was named after him. It literally means Southern Unknown Land. About 200 years later, in 1773, British naval officer James Cook became the first person to go south of the Antarctic Circle. He was about 130 kilometers from Antarctica when he turned around his ship.
Although he had not seen Antarctica, he had seen icebergs with rock deposits. When he saw those rocks, he concluded that Terra Australis does exist. But getting much closer to Antarctica was so dangerous that he had said: He was so sure that no one could reach Antarctica because the place was very dangerous. With strong winds and the ship in danger of hitting icebergs at any moment. But 50 years later it was proven that his words were wrong. It is quite controversial who was the first person to set foot in Antarctica. Because several people claim to have been the first person.
British-American Captain John Davis believed he was the first person to do so, because his ship was lost and reached Antarctica. The first undisputed landing was in 1895, when a Norwegian ship called Antarctica arrived on its shores. 6-7 crew members of this ship boarded a small boat and headed ashore. The Norwegian who was traveling on the ship was Carsten Borchgrevink, he claims that he landed before the ship and was the first to set foot in Antarctica. But a man from New Zealand, Alexander, claims to have been on this ship and to keep the ship stable, he was the first one off the ship.
These two people from the same ship argued about who was the first to get off and the first to set foot in Antarctica. There is also a fun drawing as you can see on the screen. Alexander escapes from the ship so he can be the first man to set foot in Antarctica. And the rest of the people on the boat look at him surprised because they also wanted to be the first. After this, the first 20 years of the 20th century are known as the heroic years of Antarctica. Because many expeditions were made during this time, there were new scientific discoveries and we discovered many new things about Antarctica.
It was the first time we discovered that there are plants growing on this continent. Mosses were found growing in Antarctica. After this heroic era, came the Colonial period of Antarctica. when several countries tried to claim Antarctica. Between 1908 and 1942, 7 countries claimed sovereignty over this continent. Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom. In addition to them, there were the United States, the Soviet Union, Japan, Sweden, Belgium and Germany, which carried out explorations and carried out new expeditions to Antarctica, without claiming any territory. During Hitler's government, in 1939, a German Antarctic Expedition was carried out, in which they flew in a plane to take photographs of some areas of Antarctica.
They even threw metal Nazi swastikas, claiming that the areas where the swastikas were thrown were under the control of Nazi Germany. Surprisingly, during this period the United States was not very active. In 1924, the American Secretary of State announced his official position regarding territorial claims to Antarctica. He said that if any country discovers new lands in Antarctica, that does not mean that the new areas belong to that country. The land would belong to the country only when there are real settlements in the area. When the citizens of that country live there permanently. But this did not happen.
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Now, let's get back to the topic. After the end of World War II, these countries began fighting each other over their claims to the land of Antarctica. By "fight" I don't mean a literal war, what I mean is that they were expressing their grievances more forcefully. These countries established permanent research centers in Antarctica. To show that they have a permanent station in the area. And since the researchers lived there permanently, they claimed the land as their own. If you look at the map of Antarctica, there are several islands near Antarctica. Heard and Macquarie Islands, where Australia established stations in 1947-48.
In 1953, France established bases on the Kerguelen and Crozet islands. The following year, in 1954, Australia reached continental Antarctica. And he set up the Mawson station. It was on the continent of Antarctica. A year later, Argentina installed the General Belgrano Station, this was in Antarctica, on the Filchner-Ronne ice shelf. There is so much ice in Antarctica that it is difficult to know if there is land beneath all that ice. On this map, you can see that there are some ice platforms on the outside of the terrain, and these ice platforms have different names. The creation of research stations had become a political strategy of the countries.
At one point, the British, Chilean and Argentine bases were so close to each other that it was clearly evident that they were not created solely for scientific research. It was clearly evident that these stations were being established for Interlligence activities. In fact, these countries' territorial claims to Antarctica overlap. Look at this political map of Antarctica. The blue dots are the current bases of the different countries. The existing research stations in Antarctica. Antarctic land claimed by Norway, Australia, France and New Zealand can be clearly demarcated. Their territories do not overlap each other. But if you look at the left side of the map, you'll see that the lands claimed by Chile, Britain, and Argentina overlap each other.
Chile's claims also include British and Argentine claims. In 1950, the government of the Soviet Union issued a memorandum to the rest of the world. Saying that if a country claimed the territory of Antarctica without the permission of the Soviet Union, or if it made decisions about Antarctica with the participation of the Soviets, the Soviets would not recognize such claims. By then, the Cold War had broken out between the United States and Russia, and people feared that the two countries would begin their geopolitics in Antarctica as well. These countries were already fighting each other in multiple areas of the world, but no one wanted them to fight in Antarctica as well.
But fortunately it didn't happen. In 1958, US President Eisenhower issued a notice to other governments, calling for a treaty to ensure that Antarctica would always be a free and peaceful place. On October 15, 1959, a conference on this subject was held in Washington. On December 1, 1959, the Antarctic Treaty was signed. There were three main points in this Treaty. First: Antarctica would be used only for peaceful purposes. Second: everyone would be free to carry out scientific research. And third: the results of scientific observations would be freely exchanged and available to everyone. Initially, this Treaty was signed by 12 governments, including all countries that claimed territory in Antarctica.
But the most interesting thing about this treaty is that the claims of these countries were not abolished. This Treaty simply temporarily suspended those claims. So legally, even now, these countries can continue to claim those territories and in fact they are doing so. This political map of Antarctica is still valid. Australia claims most of it. Australia claims 42% of Antarctica. But it is also important to note that the United States rejects these countries' claims. Not only the United States, most countries in the world reject these territorial claims. Not only this, these 7 countries that claim territory in Antarctica do not recognize the claims of others.
France, Australia, New Zealand and Norway recognize each other's claims, but the United Kingdom, Chile and Argentina do not recognize each other's claims because their territories overlap. Today, the countries that claim land in Antarctica have merely a symbolic claim. This Treaty had temporarily suspended the claims, but also meant that upon expiration of the Treaty, these territorial claims would become important. That is why these 7 countries have held on to their claims to Antarctica. This Treaty will expire in 2048. It remains to be seen whether this treaty will be renewed or not. Let's talk about why countries may not want to renew it later in the video.
But fortunately, with the help of the Treaty, at present there has been little to no geopolitics in Antarctica and more scientific research. This has greatly benefited scientists. The International Council of Scientific Unions established a Special Committee to conduct research in Antarctica. Under which scientists from different countries are coordinating together. For this reason, every year about 4,500 scientists go to work in Antarctica. And there has been strong collaboration between scientists from different countries. Friends, it is interesting to know about India's role in this story. In fact, at first India was completely against this Antarctic Treaty. Because India believed that this Antarctic Treaty would be used by these 10-12 countries to capture Antarctica.
Althoughcountries agree that the land will be used only for peaceful uses, it was possible that these countries would choose to carry out mining. If oil is found there, these countries will extract it and make profits from it. India had appealed to the United Nations to take over the entire continent. But the UN did not do this. About 30 years later, in December 1981, India launched its first expedition to Antarctica. India did it quite secretly. So that other countries would not find out. It was led by renowned marine biologist Dr. Syed Zahoor Qasim. India had borrowed an icebreaking ship called Polar Circle from Norway to carry out this expedition.
This expedition was a success and New Scientist magazine published the headline "Indians invade Antarctica quite a bit" as a joke. It was not a real invasion, it was a research expedition. But doing so was illegal because India was not part of the Antarctic Treaty. .So, technically, India was not allowed to go there and conduct research. .At that time, India was also part of the Non-Aligned Movement. During the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union, most countries had taken sides. But India was Non-Aligned. We did not support either of them. In 1983, the Non-Aligned countries put so much pressure on the United Nations that finally the UN General Assembly had to give in and agreed to take up the issue of Antarctica in the next meeting.
About 1 month before After the meeting, India signed the Antarctic Treaty and applied for Consultative Party status, which was quite shocking for the rest of the countries, because until At that time, India was against the Antarctic Treaty and then abruptly changed its position and signed the Antarctic Treaty. Today, there are 2 active stations of India in Antarctica where constant studies and research on geology are carried out. India's second expedition to Antarctica included scientist Sudipta Sengupta, in her research she studied that the Schirmacher Hills on the coast of Antarctica were actually part of the fault line that links the Indian subcontinent.
From then on it separated from India, after which India moved towards the north and collided with Tibet and the Himalayas were formed. And India became part of the Asian continent. Later, in 1991, an Environmental Protection Treaty was signed in Antarctica, also known as the Madrid Protocol, because it was signed in Madrid, the capital of Spain. In this treaty, restrictions were finally imposed on drilling and mining activities in Antarctica. No country can drill and mine in Antarctica. So that Antarctica is protected. It was very important to do so, because many countries are scavengers when it comes to oil.
Under the pretext of "exploring" oil, a large number of places have been destroyed. According to a 1992 study, experts from the US Geological Survey can recover 19 billion barrels of oil under Antarctica. Mineral explorers in Russia claim there are 500 billion barrels of oil and gas beneath Antarctica. But there are two reasons why oil has not been extracted in Antarctica so far. The Madrid Protocol is the first reason the Treaty keeps us protected from such cases, and the other reason is that it will be quite expensive to do so. For now. But in the future, due to climate change, the threat may increase even more.
As this ice melts due to climate change, Antarctica is becoming easier to access. Over time new technologies will be developed and perhaps then it will not be an expensive affair. And it is economically viable to extract oil and gas from there. As I told you, this Treaty will expire in 2048. If these countries do not renew this Treaty, this may be possible after that. Several countries have dedicated themselves to fishing in the oceans near Antarctica and exploiting it. Like China. China has recently expanded fishing and tourism there. In fact, after the year 2000, China is the only country that has installed research stations in Antarctica.
No other country has created new stations. Furthermore, according to data from 2018, several private yachts carrying wealthy individuals headed to continental Antarctica and illegally exploited the nature there. Several countries are talking about the fact that the ocean surrounding Antarctica should be subject to a new treaty that regulates things so that there is no overfishing there. And to ensure that no one enters the oceans illegally, and that it also becomes a protected area. After 2003, there is also a permanent physical presence of the Antarctic Treaty. The headquarters are in Buenos Aries, Argentina. If we look at this in the sense of geopolitics, today Antarctica is not a country.
It is a political territory where several countries have come together to collaborate and divide power between them equally. But Antarctica has no police, army or legal system. It can be seen that even now the loopholes in this Treaty are being exploited. For tourism, tourists can go to the British station in Antarctica called Port Lockroy, and there they can get their passports stamped. Even in the territories of Chile and Argentina, tourists can stamp their passports. It is another way through which these countries express their claims. What do you think, friends? What should be the future of Antarctica?
Should things continue as they are? Countries that collaborate together are not allowed to carry out mining and drilling activities, and people may be allowed to go there for scientific research or tourism. Or should we explore Antarctica even more? Comment below to let me know. I hope you enjoyed the video as always. If you found this video interesting, you will be interested in this playlist containing my videos on geopolitics, click here to access. See you in the next video. Thank you so much!
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