Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, highest continent on the planet. The only one that had never been inhabited by indigenous population.

And yet, the continent is in danger. Temperatures are rising, rapid transformation is happening and the ice is melting. The Antarctic Peninsula is warming three times faster than the rest of the planet. In February 2020 , a record high of 18.3C was recorded at the Argentinean base Esperanza.

The idea that Antarctica is an isolate place is a common mistake. The continent is not on the end of the world, but in its center. Containing 70% of the worlds fresh water and 90% of it’s ice, melting of the pole influences the rising sea levels all over the globe. The Antarctic Circumpolar Current is the strongest current worldwide and closely linked to the other oceans. It is not isolated but really connected.

The southern ocean is full of life and its productivity gives important information about climate change. Penguin populations depending on krill, the foundation of the food chain and the most abundant species on the planet, are declining. Animal population gives important insight on what is happening on a global level. Some changes are impossible to measure, far behind knowledge and should be our deepest concern.

Antarctica shows us what the future might be for us humans as climate change proceeds. We depend on proteins, from plants and animals. Environmental organizations like Greenpeace are focussing now on the ocean as a whole. They are pushing for a Global Ocean Treaty, a full protection of the oceans.

Carbon dioxide has never been as high in the atmosphere as it is now, above 400 parts per million. Last time this happened three million years ago. The consequences are far from our understanding. The southern ocean and its animals can give us important information so that we can try to act before it is too late. Climate change is happening and it is happening right now - it depends on us how the future will look like.

This project was commissioned and published in Financial Times Magazine in March 2020.

Text of the article written by Leslie Hook.

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