Ken Brown, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies at the University of Iowa Tippie School of Business, says he took the plunge and booked a trip to the remote continent of Antarctica, because his 81-year father Bob said such a journey was on his "bucket list." It was a magical trip, Brown told us, but he still worries about the the continent's future.
If you are thinking of going, Brown says to remember that there are no hotels in Antarctica, in fact nothing but a cold, pristine, pure environment. "Everyday we got off the main boat and got on the 'Zodiac,' a smaller more portable boat that would take us to an island or onto the shore," he told Charity. "This is really the world's largest nature preserve, there's no commercial hunting, there's no mining and just research bases that adhere to the rules of the Antarctic Treaty of 1959." He says the air is clean, the water is clean and the animals are undisturbed.
"The animals there are not afraid of people--I had a penguin walk across my foot and the birds are completely pre-occupied and just completely ignore people," Brown told us. "We saw quite a few whales, including Orca--they came right up to the boat. This is the closest place you can find to a pure environment and to what nature would be like without human interference--there's no cell-phone towers, no airplanes and no ambient light or noise. So here is a place to escape all of the things humans have built."
Brown worries for the future of the continent, though. He cites the many studies that show global warming is affecting Antarctica and that certain species that could not survive there before are able to live there now. "Scientists who are studying the area," he told Charity, " are absolutely saying that we are now looking at a steady change in an eco-system that has been well-established for a long time." He is concerned about what may happen when the Antarctic Treaty expires in 2048 and a potential cutback in U.S. research funding for the area. "I would love to see us renew and strengthen the treaty. We need to preserve the Antarctic, and keep it a pristine continent forever, where the animals rule the day, not the people."