Antarctica Should Be Opened Up For Resource Exploitation
Last updated: March 2, 2017
This debate is whether Antartica's resources should be exploited (as is currently with fishing and tourism) or should not even these be exploited. The Proposition model is to disregard the Antartic Treaty (and its claims) and instead establish Antartica as a common heritage of mankind (as is the position of the African Union) and to allow companies to exploit the resources through call for bids (that will take into consideration environmemental factors) to the United Nations and with the majority of the earnings being distributed to all of the United Nations members equally, also with equal opportunities to acquire the resources depending on their population and/or exceptional needs (such as a country with drought given priority over potable water). Proposition needs to prove that allowing the exploitation of Antartica will lead to greater benefits to humankind and it is fair to exploit it.
Before anything we would first like to point out that this debate is not limited to the two positions of: exploiting Antarctica’s resources vs. banning every form of human activity on Antarctica. Going over the fact that the Proposition has provided virtually no definitions for the key words such as “resource” and “exploitation”, the spirit and wording—should be opened up—of the debate calls for arguments regarding expanding current exploitation. Therefore the Opposition’s stance in today’s debate is that while we will allow activities such as research and tourism, we will ban all exploitation of physical resources, such as fish, oil, coal etc. on the Antarctic continent.
The problem with Proposition is that they are misunderstanding the problem at hand and therefore are providing a misguided solution. They are also being extremely naïve in believing that UN will take care of everything. While handing over the burden by saying that UN will do this is quite tempting, we must realize that UN is not as omnipotent as it seems at first glance. Finally the Proposition is understating the implications of a very serious aspect in our lives: ecological protection.
Antartica: A common heritage to the benefit of mankind
We agree with mankind using the resources that we need in order to make a profit and provide economic boost. Antartica would be no different here, with special provisions being taken in order to avoid major environmental impacts (such a the cal for bids tat would take that into consideration) plus the fact that the majority of Antartica is uninhabited by living species would mean that there would be no impact to them whatsoever.
In order to exploit Antartica's resources we would need to study and have a very specific framework (such as the one provided by the Convention on Regulation of Antartic Mineral Resource Activities) to proceed with the necessary ecological guidelines and in the future when technologies allow it to make it possible for resources such as gas and oil to be exploited (such a now happens normally in the Artic).
Such as Russia and Canada have the Artic and they take advantage of its resources being under their territory, it would only be fair to the whole of humanity to gain an economic boost off a zone that is a heritage of all. For many poor states that are under grave economic conditions, they will be greatly benefited not only from the profit shares that they will acquire on these resources but also on the specific resources, since the scarcity of many minerals (or fish) has been a problem that may now no longer be for many of them.
Fair and good!
It is not fair that our children will not get to enjoy the beautiful sights of icebergs and penguins. It is not utilitarian that—despite what the naive Proposition may say—realistically only few strong countries will exploit Antarctica. A heritage should be protected and passed down on to future generations.
The Proposition seems to believe that the problem of humanity is lack of resources. They claim that poverty and underdevelopment and millions of people dying from lack of water all come from lack of resources. However, is that the real problem? Every year billions of tons of food are thrown away. Every year millions of tons of water are wasted through leakage, carelessness and over usage. The real problem isn’t that we lack resources but that we don’t have a system for distributing the resources we have. And without first establishing such system, it will not matter how much resource is gotten from Antarctica because the absolute majority of it will end up in the hands of few strong nations. The Proposition claims that with the help of UN all countries will have equal opportunities. But going over the fact that UN won’t be able to make such arbitrations—which will be elaborated in our later argument—let’s look at the situation from a practical view. Exploitation of Antarctica requires highly advanced technology that can with stand the harsh conditions. Will second and third-rate countries who are unable to provide other the technology or the funding for such expensive high-tech operation be able to have a share of the pie at the end? Of course not. The problem isn’t that we don’t have resources. Even now we have abundant resources on one side of the globe. The problem is that they are not being distributed. And unless this fundamental problem is resolved first exploitation of Antarctica will only enrich the already rich.
The Proposition identified the wrong problem.
A resource treasure for humanity
Oil is essential not only as a fuel but also for plastics, creams and many other goods tat are produced by it and so the great daily consumption tat it has has risked its existence, with some calculus estimating that in 10 years the supply will not be able to meet the demand and from there the reserves will drop dramatically, creating a chaos in human civilization.[[einsider.org/news/article.asp?id=0423]] and maybe not having oil at all in 20 years, with reserves of natural gas only expected to last for 20 more years. Antartica could be the solution for that.
The Artic is estimated to have13% of the World's oil reserves (not contemplating Antartica)[[nytimes.com/2008/07/24/business/24arctic.html]] and we take advantage of that, and while the Antartic is even greater and could be the world's greatest resources reserve, but humanity is turning a blind eye on such a great and rich piece of land that as we said, should be a heritage for all of humankind.
Let's also take the example of drinking water. Millions of people have died in the lat years because of problems related to droughts and with environmental problems increasing, the situation will be worse soon, while the majority of drinking water reserves are actually found on the ice and believe me, Antartica has lots of it. While we could save lives, we are not doing it for a childish whim of leaving Antartica untouched, just for the sake of it. That is not only inhumane but also stupid. We could also mention minerals that are very scarce (as rare sands) but could be found here.
Do we really prefer people freezing to death or dying because of droughts when Antartic resources could save them? Obviously, the answer is no
Proposition said soon the world’s oil reserves are going to run out soon and therefore there is urgency for exploiting Antarctica. However, that exact urgency is what’s going to shatter the Proposition’s dream of “orderly exploitation”. Countries desperate for securing their own reserves and resources will fight over who gets the most share and the stronger ones will triumph in the end as always.
But more important is the fundamental flaw in the Proposition’s solution. As they themselves admitted oil is a finite resource. This means that the reserve in Antarctica is going to run out sooner or later. Therefore, according to the Proposition’s logic, even if the countries cooperated to set a limit of exploitation initially the dwindling resources will justify them in further and further exploiting Antarctica until there is nothing left to exploit. So by definition according to their solution orderly exploitation is not possible. But what happens when all of Antarctica is exploited? What then? Well again according to the Proposition’s solution we’ll just have to look for other “heritages” of mankind to exploit and ruin. And this will continue and perpetuate into a vicious cycle where the only way for mankind to survive is to suck our planet dry until there is nothing left. A solution that is “finite” as the Proposition says cannot be an actual solution. Especially when as in the status quo the finite amount will run out soon. While the amount of oil reserve in Antarctica might seem huge, we have to think in context of the 6 billion people who will be using it. It won’t last long. And then it’s off to find another place to ruin. Opposition believes much better way to use the money, effort and international cooperation that would go into exploiting Antarctica is to fund the search for a permanent alternate fuel. We see high potentials in fields s
Antartic resource exploitation is unevitable: Let's do it orderly!
The current Antartic claims are not internationally recognized and are not official whatsoever plus they were just made a if the World was a piece of cake where anyone could just claim a piece of it and eat it, but as we said since the beginning, that is not the way the things are done in the brave new world. Surely when major resource exploitation is imminent in Antartica, those claimant states will try to say tat only they will have jurisdiction under their land and no one else should exploit it however the truth is that that is just naive, since not only some of the claims overlap but also are not recognized plus some states (including USA, Brazil and Russia) have "reserved their right to claim".
What will happen next will be a great rush of vultures looking for food and things will get bad in there, because everyone will try to get its share, only few will and wars for resources (maybe the last of their kind) could arise. Under the status quo, the international community is trying to avoid this uncomfortable topic but that is just the worst strategy; the best is to have a clear legal system that is fair for all of humanity and not only a handful of states, and that is what we are proposing (and has been done before at the UN), with a universal principle of Antartic internationalization for peaceful uses, avoiding conflict, something tat will arise if the Artic Treaty System goes on.
The success of Antartic resource exploitation
Tourism has been so successful that tenths of thousands go sightseeing yearly with the numbers rising and 95% of this touristic activity is regulated by the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators which have very clear guidelines, such as limiting disembarking passengers to 100 or limiting the distance on how close they can be to fauna. This not only creates empathy to people that will get the message that it is important to have good environment in Antartica, but also provides some revenue to the clever companies that have started these tours and in the future more revenue could mean that maybe part of it could be destined to scientific operations, for example.
Antartica is a rich continent, and humankind should be able to enjoy it.
In the case of fishing, the fact that it is illegal has imposed certain limits on the quantity of tons that can be fished, this way avoiding either overfishing or overpopulation and thanks to that there is a The Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources that cares for the preservation of fish and this one setting up the Ecosystem Monitoring Programme recording changes on the population of fish and at the same time setting a cap on fishing depending on these numbers as well as monitoring illegal fishing. Unfortunately the numbers of some species have reduced but due to other factors such as changes in the ozone layer but adapting to that a cap has been set, and there is more people that can enjoy fish and also more that receive economical benefits thanks to our great Antartic treasures.
These industries work good, and tat's why we should allow more and we beg you to propose this motion.
First, tourism and fishing are not equivalents of resource exploitation in the sense of extracting oil and water. Whereas the regulations on two activities are meant to be sustainable, other resources the Prop speaks of are finite and exhaustible. As mentioned earlier, the status quo with oil being drained out tells us that our current system is such. When applied to Antarctica, there is no guarantee that [[http://www.antarctica.gov.au/about-antarctica]] that we will soon run out of resources there as well. At the same time, we will be losing an ecological heritage.
Second, even tourism and fishing under strict restrictions have entailed severe side-effects. The Prop kindly mentioned that species have gone extinct thanks to fishing. Even with systemic monitoring, fishing of certain species like the Krill or Patagonian toothfish has been a dire concern[[http://www.coolantarctica.com/Antarctica]]. Overfishing not only endangers that particular species, it affects its prey and predator species, disturbing the entire ecosystem. With tourism, accidents frequently occur. This compels us to ban fishery altogether and thereby maintain the natural ecological order. Tourism was not without accidents, either. Te oil spill after grounding of Bahai Paraiso, a tourist ship, as well as other cruise ships have inflicted damage
No possible over abuse on the resources, just a utilitarian, global benefit
If it were the powerful states that wanted to abuse of the system it would be useless since certainly it will be their companies that will win the calls for bids so they will actually be economically benefited, providing them with that needed soft power. We don't say Tonga needs to compete with its non-existing oil extracting companies but rather that they will be able to acquire the resources depending on their needs plus since the majority of the earnings would go to the whole international community, they will be divided and Tonga will get its share without the need of extracting resources so it benefits every country in the end and at the same time taking care of the environment.
On fishing, actually Opp mentions it as an activity they would ban (introduction) but when they noticed we argued good on the current fishing industry they said it's a different case because fishing is renewable, so we don't get it. The truth is that no fish has gone extinct at all as they claim, and the Patagonian toothfish poses a concern for its illegal fishing, not the legal one[[bit.ly/ncWn7l]], which as we mentioned is closely monitored by the EMP to control their level, and it must go on.
Tourism: None of the FEW accidents have posed an impact on living species and all have been controlled finally
First if Tonga was “able to acquire resources according to their needs” then they would already have done so and we wouldn’t be having this discussion in the first place. Since when have powerful companies given up their benefits freely to the less fortunate? Especially benefits that are so difficult to acquire as those from Antarctica. So then the only way for poor countries like Tonga to get resources is through international distributive system, OF WHOSE ABSENCE has been the fundamental issues that the Opposition has been pointing out from the very beginning. The problem is not that there is no resource—as mentioned millions of tons of food and water are wasted every year—the problem is that there is no way to distribute them. Therefore unless this flaw is remedied first, there is no point in mining for more resources in Antarctica, at least no point for countries like Tonga.
Second if the companies who won the bid were forced to give up their earnings to the international community to help poor countries, what company would make their bid in the first place? If companies were forced to give up resources acquired at their own expanses they wouldn’t acquire them in the first place. Such problem is especially aggravated by two unique situations. One Antarctica has an extremely harsh climate and terrain, mining for resources there already poses huge costs. Two, in order for the resources from Antarctica to be meaningful in helping poor nations, significant sums has to be given up by companies. Rather than suffer such losses companies would simply not bid.
World's most important reserve of fresh water
A report issued by the 2030 Water Resources Group in 2009 throws some shocking results. Among other information, it predicts that by the year 2030 the demand of water will have surpassed the supply by 50%. [[http://bit.ly/8GnZpu]]. If we take into consideration that the 50 % represents 2, 600, 000, 000 of persons, then we would have a third of the global population in 2030 craving for fresh water, 70% of which is located in the Antarctica. Indeed, even then resource extraction would be evitable. But the cost of doing so would be the suffering of a more than considerable number of people lacking the vital liquid, a cost which seems opposition is willing to pay. We, on the other side, do not believe that it is worth.
They also argue that with the help of alternative technologies we won’t need to make use of anything that comes from Earth’s South Pole, however they didn't even present an example of how could these technologies help solving the water crisis. Instead this argument plays on our side, as technological advancements also occur in fields such as the ice treatment. The example is the Ice Research Laboratory in Dartmouth US, which investigates about ice’s properties and is constant contact with companies in order to make resource extraction much more efficient.
Last but not least, we would like to cite another example for proving that water resources administration is also feasible in an ordered and equitable way. The European Union; its water supply perspective is focused on centralizing the supply of fresh water for all of the member states. Up to now there are significant advances like the Water Framework Directive which ensures the water quality and denotes will of fulfilling their ultimate goal.
On these many reasons we beg you to propose.
Moving beyond the self-contradictions, Prop. has got the wrong problem again. The PRIMARY reason for lack of fresh water is underdeveloped aqua-infrastructure. There is water in Africa, we just don’t have the infrastructure to use them. Building irrigation system, placing pipes to draw up subterranean water supply, establishing sanitation facilities to purify contaminated water are all procedures that can be done with much less cost and effort then an expedition into Antarctica as they can be done inside Africa instead of 5000 miles away from the site of problem. Also technology for such procedures already exist instead of being “under research” in some remote laboratory.
As for technologies DESALINATION which is much more feasible and has almost infinite resource in the form of ocean and RAINWATER HARVESTING which is also much more feasible—with actual application in Singapore, Japan, Germany etc.—and eco-friendly are better alternatives than exploiting Antarctica.
We defended Antartica as a resource heritage for all and its resources need to be used not only because it is owned by all of us but also because it will mitigate non-renewable resources scarcity. For that last point we showed how 70% of the world's drinking water is there and millions die because they can't access it; Opp replied that the current problem is lack of infrastructure however we said that by 2030 billions would die because of lack of access to water due to supply and demand of the world population and the scarcity it will have even if in 2011 lack of infrastructure was the problem (which we don't agree is) and that contemplating their alternatives of desalination and rainwater, which are not feasible alternatives where there is no water at all!
We pointed a world economic boost at all levels including world powers gaining profits from their companies exploring and also developing countries from the global distribution of the majority of earnings (without the need to explore) and also the access to more resources. Opp's contentions were that companies usually don't distribute their earnings, failing to note that as of now they have not been under that obligation since they haven't explored on internationally administered territories (such as space or int'l waters) so this is a very different case; and Opp also said that it wouldn't be economically profitable if part of the earnings had to be distributed however better technologies will make it cheaper and with the scarcity of resources, obviously everyone will be interested in gaining those calls for bids, especially if they could eventually turn out to be the only distributors worldwide (how can that not be profitable?).
Are environmental costs affordable?
Every human activity has environmental impacts but we don't go banning everything. Besides, we said how non-renewable resources will make this exploration imminent so the best is to be realistic and take every mitigating effort as possible, such a the calls for bids for environmentally-friendly companies. Opp said that the urgency for these resources will make everyone not follow the guidelines creating a catastrophe, but as we said it won't be in the immediate future but after investigations and when this is needed more, say, three decades (which is still soon but not immediate, so we don't contradict ourselves). We pointed fishing and tourism as current industries that haven't had bad environmental consequences, except for illegal fishing, which is different from explorations since you can go do it and run, unlike installing a drilling platform.
Will prevent diplomatic crises?
Being imminent; without a world consensus proposal like this one, powers would fight to get the resources or go explore wherever, however absolutely no one wants that situation so a compromise like this is feasible and a good intended possibility of order, unlike not passing this, where the guarantee is chaos.
Feasibility, and Efficacy
The Prop keeps hammering on is the ongoing energy crisis, yet it does not show logical steps so as to argue inevitability. Alternative energy emerged as a hot topic, and, given the rapid acceleration of technological advancement, the necessity of exploiting Antarctica is doubtful. More importantly, the very attention on Antarctica prevents inevitability. The complex discoveries, territorial proximity, and consequent chaotic territorial claims has frustrated all nations that the only thing they could all agree on was shutting down.
That leads up to our second point. As the Prop thankfully explains, avaricious states beget fierce competition, and exploitation would then mean its primary dictionary definition. The Prop is naïve enough to believe the UN and international treaties can control equal distribution, and brave new world actually means a utopia, but the reality never escapes from power politics. The UN—by far the most powerful international organization—is controlled by winners of WWII: one only has to count members of the Security Council to find that out. Many of those powerful countries currently also exert major influences on Antarctica; equal distribution is not their topic of choice.
Since the Prop chose to make this a policy debate, it not only has to prove benefits of advocacy but also feasibility and efficacy of its model. However the Prop proves neither of the latter. Despite unimaginable global conflicts the open access will bring, the Prop is bold enough not to propose a secure regulatory process for its model.
With all the reasons above, the argument does not address any relevant point regarding the motion. A mere suggestion that “let’s do it orderly” is simply insufficien
Now, the only thing that the Opp has tried to do is to make us carry burdens that we don't have to take. First, the burden that this will actually happen is one that we don't have to prove, because we are not certain about this and if it were to happen it wouldn't be on the immediate future plus this mechanism came from the top of our minds and it's not as if Team México had such a great international diplomatic presence to pass this on.
What we have to show is that what we propose SHOULD happen, which means it is fair and gives us a better outcome than the status quo. All of this has been fulfilled by saying humanity needs to get use of their heritage; that this one has to be universally beneficial for mankind, that it helps us prevent future diplomatic problems and that current resource exploitation in Antartica has been beneficial and needs to be expanded.
We had a whole argument on how it is the best diplomatic solution but the Opp didn't address how it was not the best but just limited to say "it won't happen". Without sustaining why, the Opp just says that "orderly won't happen" because some powers would abuse the system, but that is a guarantee if our motion doesn't pass. If it does, there's chance.
And actually as we have said, the resource exploitation of Antartica is imminent, since non-resources are finite and needed for many things, not only energy, and we mentioned how oil is used for making creams or plastics and as long as Opp doesn't provide humanity with an alternative, we have to contemplate oil and thousands of other non-resources as vital (such as minerals for making batteries too).
For this imminent situation the most ordered and feasible is to reach a consensus, because the alternative would be war for resources and we don't want that alternative. War is not ordered, fair nor good.
Fishing: Prop. misunderstood us completely. “Fishing is a different case”--we didn’t mean it was okay, but that EVEN fishing which is a less severe case of exploitation than oil drilling has severe consequences. “Almost extinct” is still a significant problem, and certainly we don’t understand how the problem is mitigated because the danger to a specie comes from illegal activity. In fact such existence of illegal fishing supports our point that Prop. will not be able to control exploitation. The same point applies to tourism.
Let’s not forget our ultimate point: fishing and tourism are too different from other resources to make successful examples. The main resources in dispute are oil and minerals that sustain the framework of modern industry yet face severe limit in amount. The fact that prop. can only present such trivial “successes” actually proves uncontrollable competition we anticipate.
That confusion also gives us the clue of why desalination of water wouldn’t function neither. It is an expensive and inefficient process, the aggregate value of the entire infrastructure needed would turn into a rise of the costs and thus it would be hardly affordable for those people with few resources, the ones mostly affected by the water crisis.
Second distribution isn’t the hotspot of this debate. It is true that resource extraction may only happen within a reduced number of actors, but because of the mechanism proposed at the beginning, the examples provided, and the laws of global economy we defend that all countries will get a share of it. And even if distribution isn’t equitable, opposition is missing the fact that resource extraction will create wealth in the form of new jobs, commercial boost, and the introduction of new actives to the world economy. In other words, even if resource extraction didn’t promote an equitable distribution it would still be desirable and bring along positive effe
Ecological wonder: A guardian of the Earth
Antarctica is an ecological wonder with immense diversity that encompasses various endangered species and ancient species that help revealing the mystery of evolution. Furthermore, Antarctica has a unique natural cycle that acts the world’s environmental regulator. Seasonal changes in the icy continent cause ice shelves to melt and freeze regularly, creating a pattern of cold, fresh water released into the world’s oceans. Resource exploitation will accelerate unnatural melting that cannot be offset. Effects on ocean currents and temperature will be fatal even by the extent of current knowledge. The entire marine ecosystem will be jeopardized; resultant changes in climate will beget disasters bigger than ever before. The worst part is recovery, since less ice will remain as the buffer.
We should also note that Antarctica holds an immense amount of historical climatic and evolutionary data. Not only are fossils in play here but also is accumulated ice—the vivid testimony to the climatic changes.
While the proposition may again naively claim regulations will be sufficient, the fierce competition will undoubtedly devastate the ecology of Antarctica. Note that the proposition is not only talking about “collateral” damages but frontal destruction: the artificial extraction of fresh water is exactly what we should be afraid of.
We should also remember that ramifications of such demolition are majorly still beyond our reach. The damage, already estimated to be fatal, can be a trigger for total annihilation of mankind. We cannot and must not make a premature judgment when we can’t even begin to comprehend the value of our heritage.
So if the opposition really wants to stop global warming, this discussion should have turned to include the banning of cars, garbage and fireplaces (among others), which we are to blame for the increment of world’s temperature. It will obviously not happen because cars, to set an example, are necessary; they provide us with an alternative for travelling spending less time and in safer conditions than other means of transportation. Because of their fundamental role we cannot just give them up; the option here is to regulate them in order to mitigate their impact. And our proposed mechanism of limitations serves perfectly for this purpose, as contracts will be granted by bids which will ensure that competitiveness occurs in the stage previous to the extraction, the stage in which companies have to prove how efficient they are, succeeding the one who proves to make the less environmental impact.
It's in the best of our expectations that with the help of alternative energies we may have reduced environmental damage by the time we need to start extracting the resources from the Antarctica, but we want to make it clear that our priority is to fulfill people’s necessities and we know that those resources are going to be essential for the future development. The same goes for the claims that opp made about fishing: You can't build a platform being unnoticed, unlike fish and run! Well applied regulations will deter illegal practices
The fundamental question: why exploit Antarctica? Prop. gives a long list of resources, some of which are essential to the modern industries. But this is not a research conference; Prop. must PROVE why we NEED TO extract resources from Antarctica.
Before “why Antarctica,” let’s see why extract MORE in the first place. Prop. claims it’s for the poor; we all know better that the problem is not lack of supply but distribution. Dumbfounded Prop. gives no response to this rebuttal. So what’s left is a one-liner of “make a profit and provide economic boost.” Prop. takes the reason for exploitation granted, as it does on definition of resources and exploitation, yet its cheap emotional appeal confuses us on whether it actually knows why. And what happened to all the alternative energy in significant progress that more extraction is inevitable? Failure to prove reason for extraction alone gives the debate to us.
Why Antarctica: it’s a massive storage. True: but it’s also true that Antarctica is an ecological wonder. Its own unique ecosystem, its testimony to evolutionary and climatic changes, and its role as the thermal regulator makes it invaluable. Prop’s claim so far: “the majority of Antartica is uninhabited by living species … there would be no impact to them whatsoever”. ABOMINABLE. Antarctica’s control of earth temperature, ocean current, and sea level is literally beyond imagination, and it’s crucial even by our knowledge now: and if Prop. can fake sympathy for the poor, shouldn’t it at least show respect to the living species in Antarctica? Extraction of fresh water is just another proof of the Prop’s ignorance on environment.
Also global conflicts will occur. Any model will create chaos. Free competition: still vivid are Russian aggressions in the North Pole. Few powers monopolize. A more or less equal model: it’s inconsistent with what happened to Greenland (Denmark) and the North Pole (sliced in pieces); South America, Australia, etc. will object. Above all, powerful states won’t overlook; The UN Security Council still restricted to six winners of WWII, Kyoto protocol in which the US dropped out “because China wasn’t included”, and derided Copenhagen Convention are enough proofs.
Yet Prop. does not care. It chooses that “ideal,” criticizes US for being picky, and even goes to say it does not bear burden to prove efficacy. When it is clear that failure of that model will bring conflicts, when the model will never pass the UN, the winners’ puppet, when even if it passes, powerful nations conspicuously won’t cooperate, as China & Russia didn’t to North Korea sanctions—when the regulation will surely work despite inevitable necessity that can break the CURRENT regulation ACCORDING TO PROP.—it has guts to say “I’m not responsible.”
On that note, we rest our case.