Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Three Countries Block Antarctic Sanctuary

China, Russia and Norway have blocked an effort to create the world's largest wildlife sanctuary in Antartica. Twenty-two other countries were ready to approve the designation, but it needed unanimous approval in talks at Hobart, Tasmania. The sanctuary would have been the size of Sudan or 1.8 million km² giving all of Antarctica's unique wildlife a chance to survive. WWF says that 70% of the world's remaining wilderness exists in just five countries. The designation would have also helped soak up some of the carbon dioxide produced by combustion that is warming our planet catastrophically. A spokesperson for Greenpeace says that thirty percent of our oceans need to be protected to insure habitat, and thereby protect food sources. Less than 10% is now protected from damage. Unfortunately the historic opportunity to reverse this deadly trend was lost to filibustering and obstruction intended only to prevent unanimity. These countries appear to be more interested in expanding exploitative commercial fishing than giving the planet a change to recover from 300 years of industrial pollution according to observers.The Antarctic Ocean Commission under Russia's chairmanship in 2016 made progress when the Commission declared the Ross Sea would be protected, but Russia has failed to enforce the agreement pursuing instead opportunities to expand fishing in the Southern Ocean. The failed deal would have protected the Weddell and parts of the biologically rich Antarctic Peninsula. The next chance to protect Antarctica's seas will come at the UN which is negotiating a global ocean treaty. Those negotiation could reach a conclusion by 2020