Despite being largely uninhabited both the Arctic and Antarctic regions are important political issues for the international community. These are unclaimed territories where the nations of the world are vying for political dominance and more importantly economic superiority. There is vast natural wealth within both regions, particularly focused on mineral wealth, oil and natural gas. With many of the regions major stakeholders also being global powers, such as Russia or the United States, the issue of political control in the Arctic and Antarctic regions has been an important factor in 20th century history.
The exploration of the Arctic and the Antarctic have demonstrated the continued difficulties of working in the last great wildernesses of the globe and the journeys of Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott have been iconic symbols of human endurance.
However, these regions are ecologically fragile. Both the Arctic and Antarctic tell the story of our planet’s struggle against global warming and climate change. It is within these regions that the issue of natural habitat and the survival of some of our most recognised animals, such as the Polar Bear, has become particularly acute. As science, economics and politics collide the Arctic and Antarctic will experience great change because the issues affecting the politics of the poles have become global issues.
“I think part of the appeal of Antarctica is experiencing some sort of power, the forces of the natural world”.
Jon Krakauer, (1954-Present) American Mountaineer & Writer