December 1st seems like a good time to feature Antarctica. In 1959 the Antarctic Treaty was signed on that day by 12 nations (now 48 nations), setting aside nearly 10% of the Earth “forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes… in the interests of all mankind.” Although the treaty was signed way back then, the holiday is relatively recent, being first celebrated in 2010. It was initiated by the Foundation for the Good Governance of International Spaces as an annual event to build global awareness of this landmark institution that brings hope and inspiration for future generations.
The Good Governance site mentioned above, called Our Spaces, has lots of activities and information. You can launch a virtual balloon to celebrate the day either from their site or by clicking here. You can download, or read online, a book written to explain the treaty to younger folks. Adults might also find it helpful, and besides, it has adorable penguin pictures. There’s even a movie about international flags made by children all over the world and sent to McMurdo Station.
According to the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists, the goals of Antarctica Day are:
- To demonstrate how diverse nations can work together peacefully, using science as a global language of cooperation for decision making beyond national boundaries.
- Provide strategies for students learning about Antarctica through art, science and history.
- Increase collaboration and communication between classrooms, communities, researchers and government officials around the world.
- Provide a focus for polar educators to build on each year.
So if you are like me and don’t like to be cold, you can celebrate this day where people are much colder than you are! And if you love the cold, you can dream about going there.
Quotes about Antarctica
If Antarctica were music it would be Mozart. Art, and it would be Michelangelo. Literature, and it would be Shakespeare. And yet it is something even greater; the only place on earth that is still as it should be. May we never tame it.–Andrew Denton
At a time when it’s possible for thirty people to stand on the top of Everest in one day, Antarctica still remains a remote, lonely and desolate continent. A place where it’s possible to see the splendours and immensities of the natural world at its most dramatic and, what’s more, witness them almost exactly as they were, long, long before human beings ever arrived on the surface of this planet. Long may it remain so.–David Attenborough
Antarctica is otherworldly, like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Stark, cold, beautiful desolation.–Mark Hoppus
Antarctica is a very alien environment, and you can’t survive here more than minutes if you’re not equipped properly and doing the right thing all the time.–Jon Krakauer
Some journalists have described the South Pole as “hell on earth.” Others refer to my time here as “an ordeal.” They would be surprised to know how beautiful Antarctica has seemed to me, with its waves of ice in a hundred shades of blue and white, its black winter sky, its ecstatic wheel of stars. They would never understand how the lights of the Dome welcomed me from a distance, or how often I danced and sang and laughed here with my friends. And how I was not afraid.–Jerri Nielsen
The literature of the emperor penguin is as forbidding, as inaccessible, as the frozen heart of Antarctica itself. Its beauties may be unearthly, but they are not for us.–Ursula K. Le Guin
I am hopeful that Antarctica in its symbolic robe of white will shine forth as a continent of peace as nations working together there in the cause of science set an example of international cooperation.–Richard E. Byrd
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