Polar Futures


Map of Antarctica
Photo by NASA via Wikimedia Commons

Ruby Jones and Steve Myersco look at the current debate over the Arctic and Antarctic. Global warming is making people interested in these polar areas for development.

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Transcript


Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I'm Steve Myersco.

Voice 2

And I'm Ruby Jones. This programme uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1

Who owns the most northern place in the world - the north pole? It may seem a strange question to ask. But the answer could be very important in the future.

Voice 2

Ice covers the area around the North Pole, the Arctic. But global warming is causing this ice to melt. The same thing is happening at the South Pole, the Antarctic. So the international community is now showing new interest in these areas. Today, our Spotlight is on the future of the areas around the North and South Pole.

Voice 3

‘I do not care what the foreign politicians say. If someone does not like this, let them go down there themselves... let them try to put something there. Russia must win. Russia has what it needs to win. The Arctic has always been Russian.'

Voice 1

These are the words of Russian explorer Artur Chilingarov. He led a team that put a flag on the North Pole. But they did not put the flag on the ice. They put it at the bottom of the sea, on the sea bed.

Voice 2

The flag does not prove the North Pole belongs to Russia. But it does raise the question - who does own the area? Currently no country owns it. In the past this had not been important. But now the ice is melting. So countries that surround the North Pole are now more interested.

Voice 1

Scientists believe there is a lot of oil under the Arctic. Currently, the oil is hard to reach because the area is covered with ice. But the ice may melt. When it does, countries near the area may want to earn money from the oil. The countries involved in the dispute are Russia, the United States, Canada, Norway and Denmark. They all have land that borders the Arctic.

Voice 2

Currently, international law states that these countries can claim all the sea area within 370 kilometres of their coasts. But they may also be able to claim more. Their claims will depend on the shape of the sea bed. But this is not a simple matter. The countries disagree about which parts of the sea bed belong to each country.

Voice 1

The melting ice in the Arctic could also change the way goods are shipped around the world. The ice in the sea north of Canada and Russia is melting. So, soon it may be possible for ships to sail through these waters. Sailing distances between many ports could be greatly reduced.

Voice 2

So the Arctic could be the subject of many arguments in the future. But what about the opposite end of the world? Will countries show new interest in the area around the South Pole - The Antarctic?

Voice 1

Antarctica is also getting warmer. And it also has oil. But the Antarctic is protected by an international treaty. The Antarctic Treaty was signed in 1959. One of the things it agreed was that no country would mine the Antarctic for oil. But this agreement will end in 2048.

Voice 2

Antarctica also has something else which could be valuable in the future - land. Antarctica is the coldest place on earth. It can reach temperatures of 90 degrees Celsius below zero. But one part of Antarctica is warmer than the rest. And some people are saying that this area could one day be home to millions of people.

Voice 1

The Antarctic Peninsula is a long piece of land. It rises north towards South America. The average temperature here has risen by about two and a half degrees over the past 50 years. This increase in temperature is five times faster than in the rest of the world. The average temperature of the peninsula is now close to zero degrees Celsius.

Voice 2

One environmental group is saying that millions of people could one day live in the Antarctic. The group is called ‘Forum for the Future'. The group wrote a report that gives ideas about what the future could be like. They wrote about the dangers of rising sea levels. This could force millions of people in low-lying countries away from their homes. They would become environmental refugees. Antarctica could be one place for them to move to.

Voice 1

‘Forum for the Future's' report tells what the world could be like in the year 2030.

Voice 4

‘The world's population is 8 billion people. And the average person is using more resources. The population growth means that land is now costly. Climate change has made things worse. New lands have been opened up for settlement. The Antarctic Peninsula settlement began in 2029. People call it the first global community. Experts believe its population will rise to 3,500,000 by the year 2040.'

Voice 2

This was just one suggestion of what the future could be. ‘Forum for the Future' members thought of other ideas. But could this idea happen? How would people live in Antarctica? Could they also live on islands near the North Pole? Danny Bloom is one man who has thought about these questions. He has published images of what cities near the North and South Pole could look like. Danny Bloom calls them ‘polar cities'. He started the project to encourage people to think more about global warming. He said,

Voice 5

‘I am not saying we will ever need polar cities for survivors of global warming. I hope we will never need them... But I spoke to an artist who lives near me in Taiwan. I asked him to make some computer images of what a polar city could look like. The images are from his imagination.... The images should encourage us to act. If we do not do something about global warming, then there could be big problems in the future. That is all I am trying to do - using a frightening image to help people to start thinking.'

Voice 1

It is frightening to think that polar cities may one day be necessary. But it could happen if other parts of the world become too hot. The future of our planet is unclear. But the Arctic and Antarctic areas show that climate change is happening. The future of these two polar areas could depend on how people and authorities act today.

Voice 2

The writer and producer of this programme was Steve Myersco. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States. All quotations were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. Computer users can more Spotlight programmes on our website, at www.radioenglish.net. This programme is called, "Polar Futures".

Voice 1

If you have any comments or questions about Spotlight you can email us. Our email address is radio@radioenglish.net. Thank you for listening today. We hope you can join us again soon, goodbye.

Question:

Who do you think should own the North and South Poles? Who should own Antarctica?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
danbloom
said on March 30, 2009

Hello. I am Danny Bloom, creator of the polar cities concept, and thanks so much for including my ideas in your broadcast here. I recently made a YouTube video that explains more about my concerns over climate change and the future, and this speech to the graduating class of 2099 might be useful to you, as well as the text of the speech here:
http://tufts2099.blogspot.com

Youtube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-wnrm2jE-E

To reach me by email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I am happy to give you permission to use any of my work on your future shows.—Danny Bloom, 3/30/2009

Avatar Spotlight
kenhieuloilam
said on August 24, 2017

We know the world will pass. All of us love beautiful good things. We live to be good persons in the world. We wish a beautiful good world. There are many beautiful good things in the world. All of us love beautiful good things. When beautiful good things pass by we feel regret. We do all things we can do for beautiful good things. We live our lives for beautiful good things. We die for beautiful good things. All our beautiful good doings exist. We find joy in beautiful good things.

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Dela
said on August 26, 2017

Reports on ceaseless icebergs melting bring the clear evidence climate change of polar areas is happening. This negative activity may endanger also another places in the world within future years. It means no matter what country owns these areas but people, authorities should connect together to stave off the threatening disaster in near future.