Friday, February 23, 2007

Emergency in the Antarctic

Could the International Polar Year which is going to be launched on March 1st in Paris, start in a worse way?

The year began with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sounding the alarm louder than ever about the consequences of the meltdown of the icecap in Polar regions.

Now it continues with the Japanese whaling factory ship setting on fire. After they rejected Greenpeace's help, the Japanese are now under pressure from the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC) and from the New Zealand government.

In their appeal to the Contracting Parties to the Antarctic Treaty, ASOC says:

A decision must be made urgently. Given the practicalities of the situation, it would appear that the Nisshin Maru should be towed out of harm's way to the nearest capable port facility by the closest available vessel capable of doing so. The Greenpeace vessel Esperanza is nearby and has the requisit capacity, characteristics and personnel needed to successfully tow the the Nisshin Maru out of danger. The decision to follow this approach lies ultimately with the operators of the Nisshin Maru, but ASOC is sure the views of other Antarctic Treaty Contracting Parties on this matter will have weight on that decision.

The global launch of the International Polar Year on March 1st will be preceded by a week-long series of ceremonies and conferences all over the world, starting next Monday at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Maybe the International Polar Year could not have started in a better way, after all. Because maybe these real world events will make it more relevant.

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