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Antarctica: Go green or go home

WindMills

 We have learned so much about conservation since we arrived. Since Antarctica has such a large impact on the earth’s ecosystem, scientists who work here implement stringent measures to protect this continent.  Particularly for those working with Scott Base, everything comes New Zealand, and nearly everything must return to New Zealand. As a result, natural resources and waste production is carefully considered. In fact, at a location in which there may be an opportunity to conserve, there is often posted a little green sticker with a check mark. This is a reminder to simply reflect on how much of a resource one is using.

Fuel is transported once a year via an ice breaker. For every liter of water used on the base, 2 liters of fuel is required for filtering/transportation purposes. Thus, water is quite precious. Showers are encouraged to stay under 3 minutes, and dishes are washed with sparing amounts before being sanitized. Recycled water is used in the toilets and other places where pure water is unnecessary. The only liberal use of water is for hydration, as health and safety is paramount.

Waste of any kind must be transported away. All trash is carefully sorted and those that can’t be recycled are taken back to New Zealand to be incinerated or dumped in a landfill.

Energy is also conserved. Lights are not left on in unoccupied rooms (not that it’s really a problem in this season with constant daylight). Scott Base and its neighbor McMurdo Station recently reduced their energy consumption by 10% through the use of windmills, which is very appropriate since Antarctica can be a very windy place.

Most of these measures seem sensible, but bringing it to our attention has made us all think about how we can better conserve our resources when we return home. Scott Base is “not just green on the inside!”