Sunday, April 29, 2007

Journey to the end of the Earth

Six hundred and fifty million years ago, a giant amalgamated southern supercontinent — Gondwana — did indeed exist, centred roughly around present-day Antarctica. Things were quite different then: humans hadn't arrived on the global scene, and the climate was much warmer, hosting a huge variety of flora and fauna. For 500 million years Gondwana thrived, but around the time when the dinosaurs were wiped out and the age of the mammals got under way, the landmass was forced to separate into countries, shaping the globe much as we know it today.

Human civilisations have been around for a paltry 12,000 years — barely a few seconds on the geological clock. In that short amount of time, we've managed to create quite a ruckus, etching our dominance over Nature with our villages, towns, cities, megacities. The rapid increase of human populations has left us battling with other species for limited resources, and the unmitigated burning of fossil fuels has now created a blanket of carbon dioxide around the world, which is slowly but surely increasing the average global temperature.

These facts provoke us to think Will the Antarctic ice sheet melt entirely?Will the Gulf stream ocean current be disrupted? and finally Will it be the end of the world as we know it?

Antarctica is a crucial element in this debate, because of her simple eco-system and lack of bio-diversity.Little changes in the environment can have big repercussions.

Source : The Hindu

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