Antarctica

Antarctica Travel: History to Date

Travel to Antarctica by humans could well never have taken place until the 1800s. While spotted by several ships as largely ice shelves, there is some questions (by the sheer fact that Australia is named what it is – meaning “southern” – hence implying nothing existed further south). However, Captain James Cook’s voyage in 1773 came within 75 miles of the coast – then retreated due to field ice.

The first documented landing upon Antarctica, by American John Davis at Hughes Bay near Cape Charles, was believed to be in 1821; the next confirmed landing was in 1895 at Cape Adair. Actual climbing of a mountain on Antarctica occurred in 1907, with Mt. Erebus climbed by Edgeworth David’s group and subsequently reached the “South Magnetic Pole.” The geographic South Pole was reached by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen in 1911. Soon thereafter, Richard Byrd set up land transport and conducted research in Antarctica in 1930-1940s, and in 1956 U.S. Navy Rear Admiral George Dufek landed an aircraft on Antarctica.

 

Present Information for Antarctic Travel

Today’s Antarctica for travel purposes should consider the facilities and resources made possible by Antarctica’s history to date. While “runways” for landing feasibility have been shown, experience in landing on ice is required, as nearly the entire land is blanketed in ice most of the year. However, summers are more pleasant, as expected, than winter. This is reflected by the population of 5,000 in summer and 1,000 in the winter. “Visits” to Antarctica have included by ship (with cruise liners coming up to and not necessarily landing on the continent), research trips, and other work-related trips. There are (as of yet) NO hotels on the continent were reported to exist per one site, which also reported that most people sleep on their (or others’) ships.  During the summers, it is important to note that the sun never sets – there are hence 24 hours of sunshine. When there is night sky, however, the salvation may be aurora australis or the southern lights, created by the solar winds passing by the earth, or diamond dust (ground-level cloud of ice crystals); finally, a sun dog is a “bright spot other than the true sun” which occasionally appears.

Most accessibility to Antarctica is during November to March (the “austral summer”). “Tourist highlights” or more appropriately phrased as “unique landmarks, since most tourists may not make it there” include East Antarctica’s “Southern Pole of Inaccessibility” which is home to Russia’s golden statue of Lenin and allegedly a gold visitor book if you can manage to get in; West Antarctica with the continent’s highest and lowest points, with a possible guided climbing of the highest peak being possible; South Pole,

 

Future Considerations for Antarctic Travel

One way to travel to Antarctica may be as part of a research group. Of the 4,000 researchers from 28 countries, biologists to astronomers abound, and environmentalists. Other options still remain sea voyages with rare shore visits, land expeditions (even rarer), or sightseeing by air.

 

In the future, unfortunately (or fortunately for those intent on going there under more pleasant conditions), the phenomenon of global warming (see www.RavishOnEnvironment.com) may be all-too-real and result in melting of further ice shelf regions. As a possible bellwether sign of temperature warming, in March, 2015, record high temperatures in the 60s (degrees F) were recorded on Antarctica.   In addition, a recent scientist from UCSD noted that 70% of the ice shelf in western Antarctica had been lost within the past decade. While it may still be decades or centuries before Antarctica becomes a popular winter (or summer) destination, some of that may depend upon the extent of global warming which occurs.

A final fun fact for those of us considering not only travel to Antarctica in the future, but registering a future internet domain there (which can, by the way, be also done from much warmer areas), Antarctica does have its own assigned suffix, which is “.aq”… Happy Travels.

 

(Information above has been acquired from numerous sources, including www.lonelyplanet.com, www.wikitravel.org, www.theguardian.com, www.wikipedia.org, and www.cnn.com, among others)

National Parks

 

National Parks: Past History

Andrew Jackson in 1832 signed legislation to set aside land in Hot Springs, Arkansas, to protect the land from future development. With John Muir’s strong argument supporting natural parks and President Lincoln’s 1864 ceding of Yosemite National Park for preservation, led to further such designation of Yellowstone National Park in 1872. As politics played into national parks, the initial status allowed state control (as in case of Yosemite for California) which then became national control (as in case of Yellowstone) – with the latter under Theodore Roosevelt. Unfortunately, the “rules” required displacing Native Americans.

Collectively, 59 national parks existed as of 1916 (with 407 sites total managed by National Park Service, an entity created in early 1900s). Interestingly, the national park idea was taken up by other countries around the world subsequently, including Australia, then Canada.

An international agency, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), deals with national parks and stated that in 2006, there were 6,555 national parks worldwide. Famous park rangers have included President Gerald Ford.

National Parks: Present Status

Today, national parks include many characteristics:

  • not affected by human living, exploitation, or work (except for conservation and park-related intrinsic activities, with proper budget and staff provided), though visitation was allowed;
  • controlled by the highest national office, with statutory legal protection;
  • visitation, though allowed, must be for educational, recreational, or such means and not commercial;
  • nature conservation and protection are paramount (with a minimum size of about at least 2,470 acres.

In an upcoming section, we can discuss the specifics of each part, the unique qualities, both aesthetic and structural, as well as related efforts to maintain the originally created criteria.

National Parks: Future

Novel ideas for future national park use, while still operating under the framework noted above, include the “benefit sharing” – whereby the park itself benefits from research-related activities and revenue in form of a discovery or invention. Most recently, in 2013, this legislation defined National Park Service (NPS) guidelines regarding ethics, basic procedures, principles, and responsibilities.

Organizations such as the National Parks Conservatory Association (NPCA) continue to influence and support legislation for national parks, as proclaimed by their mission (www.npca.org). With a presence in 49 of 50 states (perhaps Delaware will add on in the future), the National Parks have perhaps a good chance still of what many have proclaimed as “America’s Best Idea.”

(Information above has been acquired from numerous sources, including www.nps.gov, www.npca.org, www.wikipedia.org, and www.pbs.org).