Asked by Alyssa
Antarctica is a protected environment, and the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty was signed in 1991. However, Antarctic environments are still threatened by several things:
- Climate change resulting in melting glaciers and ice shelves;
- People transporting invasive species in like rats or deer on ships;
- Environmental damage caused by scientists and tourists visiting the continent.
Reducing the effects of climate change means reducing our CO2 emissions. This means everyone making the effort to turn off lights, recycle, walk to work, take public transport, and so on. This will make the world a better place for all of us.
In terms of reducing the number of invasive pests, rat and raindeer are already being removed in South Georgia. Ships must be as rat-free as possible, and containers showing signs of rat damage are not loaded onto the shore. Dogs and other non-native animals (such as horses or ponies) are no longer allowed in Antarctica.
Scientists and tourists can act to minimise their environmental impact in Antarctica. As scientists working with the British Antarctic Survey, we complete an Environmental Impact Plan before fieldwork. We camp only on snow (so we don’t move rocks and cause environmental damage), remove all waste (including human waste), and remove old depots and rubbish where possible. Sustainable science and tourism in Antarctica requires taking positive action to minimise environmental impacts.
See more information here about environmental protection in Antarctica.