Greens worry as countries scurry to set up camp in Antarctica

Several dozen countries have set up camps and research stations in Antarctica, giving greens short-term fears that development will damage fragile ecosystems and long-term fears that the continent will soon be pillaged for oil, gas, and minerals. A 1959 Antarctic Treaty declares Earth’s driest, windiest, coldest continent a “natural reserve devoted to peace and science.” But, says Australian senator Barnaby Joyce, “if there are resources there, they will be exploited. It is just the way of the world.” Worrisome development includes Australia’s plan for an ice runway to accommodate commercial jets and a 1,000-mile ice highway built by the U.S. An international coalition of green groups is asking the U.S. to reconsider the highway, voicing concerns about air pollution and other potential problems. As a New Zealand green-group spokesgal put it, “Once you start putting a road through somewhere it’s not a wilderness any more.”