Saving a Thawing Antarctica - From Tourism?

antarctic tourism clinton photo

Photo via Imaginative Traveler

Likely spurred by recent news of a major ice bridge rupturing in the Antarctic, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said that regulations on tourism must be tightened. According to Reuters, Clinton said that measures must be taken up to protect the continent from the burgeoning Antarctic travel industry. Will reigning in tourism really help save Antarctica?Well, it couldn't hurt. But no, not really. Despite the fact that Antarctic tourism is skyrocketing—five times as many tourists flock to the icy continent as did in the 90s—even the tens of thousands of travelers on cruise ships aren't directly to blame for the region's rapidly disintegrating glaciers
According to Reuters, Clinton said that

more needed to be done to prevent further degradation of the environment around Antarctica caused by vessels going to the region

Because . . .
There have been concerns over shipwrecks, oil spills and aggravation of stresses on animals and plants that may already be suffering from global warming.

Tamping down on the tourists may help prevent humans from further exacerbating the problems we've caused by fueling climate change, but the root of the problem is of course a far thornier issue—and it's a long ways from resolution.

However, it is a pragmatic response to the plight at hand: stronger conservation measures in Antarctica are undoubtedly a good idea. And Clinton seems to recognize that we've got to mitigate the damage in any way we can, while working on a more comprehensive solution:

"She urged nations to work together to resolve issues resulting from the warming of Arctic waters, an event likely to lead to new shipping lanes and future energy exploration.

Which is an issue that will unfortunately need to be addressed. But she also used the opportunity to make another call for international cooperation in tackling climate change—of course, it's just yet another politician calling out for action. Then again, it's also yet another politician calling out for action . . .

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