A Swedish friend of mine recently “enjoyed” a weekend break in Mallorca, a welcome spell of winter warmth you might think, but no, she gave it the description above and not because of any limitation in her English-speaking skills. There is of course a small town in Norway by this name near Trondheim, which I am sure in the winter gives truth to her simile. The town capitalises upon this by selling postcards depicting “Hell frozen over” though it is still some 3 degree short of the Arctic Circle, though a similar line of latitude south of the equator does pass through parts of Antarctica and some rocky outposts whose ownership is disputed by Chile, Argentina, and of course Britain!
It is 30 years since we fought a war with Argentina over the ownership of the Falkland Islands, and tensions are rising once again. There is a referendum being held on the islands on whether to remain British. A bookmaker taking bets on the outcome hasn’t accepted a single wager on a the outcome being “no”. For the islanders whose home this is the matter is clear-cut, but the rest of the world must wonder what all the fuss is about and of course there is more to it than a small population of people and sheep who would prefer to keep the union flag flying. The possibility that there may be mineral resources in the South Atlantic means that everyone wants to have a stake in their eventual exploitation. Once these parts of the world would have been seen as too difficult to access, but with commodity prices rising and extraction technologies developing the decision to pursue these options seems ever more likely.
As the worlds last remaining area that is relatively unaffected by human activity, it is worth protecting, particularly for the role it plays in weather patterns and the life-cycles of so many of earth’s inhabitants. Consequently there are many treaties and protocols already in place seeking to control development in the region, but the existence of organisations like the Antarctic Ocean Alliance suggests that there is still more to be done. I wish them well.
I have no pictures to share of Nordic or Antarctic origin (shame) but I did have a wry smile today as I listened to the BBC correspondent Caroline Wyatt reporting from the Falklands with the opening line “The wind blows ceaselessly in the Falklands…” . At that point I was driving along the coast observing the wind roiled seas beside me and it seemed entirely appropriate that a group of islands lashed by wind and wave should be populated by those of British origin, for even on days like this we brave the elements to take our pictures or walk our dogs.
At least Stephanie was well prepared.