Arctic and Antarctic


The coldest places on earth – two delicate ecosystems- are most affected by the major climate and environmental changes that are altering our planet, causing a risk to life in the geographically and politically fragile areas such as within the circumpolar zones.
Among the most extreme and hard to reach places – for a long time they have been left untouched by the modern man – Arctic and Antarctica have been the first places to show worrying signs of climate and environmental changes. Today these areas are recognised as the ‘scales’ of climate change.

In recent years economically powerful countries have been focussing on these areas, eager to exploit the large mineral wealth in the subsurface.

The scientific community is alarmed by the sudden way in which the changes to these environments are manifesting. We are no longer living within the earth’s natural cycles. The consequences of the adverse affects caused by human activity will be very long lasting.

The native inhabitants of the Arctic – human and animal – have struggled to oppose the actions and enterprises –great and small- aimed to obtain privileges and rights over their territory. To respect the arctic environment is a choice as there is no international protocol to protect the area.

In Antarctica the situation is very different. Apparently the Antarctic ice cap is still ‘virgin’. Officially, only scientific research can take place there and an international treaty protects and supervises ongoing operations. The Antarctic Treaty (to which Italy is a signatory) was signed on December 1st, 1959 and is valid until 2059.

Apparently, both circumpolar regions are not related to the rest of the world, and countries in the temperate zones of the world do not seem to have relationships of interdependence, cause and effect. Unfortunately, this is an illusion, a form of unconsciousness.

In reality, what happens between the two polar circles and the poles effects temperate regions? It is only a matter of time. The melting ice caps, raising ocean levels, ozone depletion, extinction of indigenous population,  animals and plants are just the most obvious and popular events  recognised by the public. But they are not recognised nearly as much as they should be.

The public needs to be shocked to realise, to understand and to act accordingly. An International Polar Year every 50 years – the last one just ended and with little media coverage – is not enough to keep public attention alive. We need consistency and strategies.

The proposal is to:

  • urge world governments to take action as soon as possible with concrete actions of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and in limiting the uncontrolled consumption of the planets resources;  
  • support the international scientific community in research work on the poles;
  • stimulate government (libraries, schools, municipalities, etc..) to propose regular cultural events, scientific workshops and editorial production in their program plan: exhibitions, conferences, working with the students may make   Artic and Antarctica more aware, more present in the thoughts of everybody, less indifferent, less remote;
  • promote all levels of government communication activities that inform the public about the risks of maintaining the status quo;
  • listen to the voice of the Arctic people, who were among the first to suffer the adverse effects of climate change and to announce the gravity of the situation;
  • call on all citizens of the world to be aware that there are simple everyday actions they can do to start improving the future that we pass on to our children.

  Ada Grilli, journalist


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