This poster went up on the side of Warren Towers yesterday! If being famous means your friends send you pictures of a poster of yourself in a parka on the side of a college dorm, then I am clearly now a celebrity. Here I am awkwardly posing next to the picture Emma, Dan, and I took earlier this semester, sporting extreme cold weather (ECW) gear, while it was 80 degrees in Boston.
Often times, when I tell people about going to Antarctica they tell me I’m crazy or brave or that they would never do what I’m going to do. I feel neither crazy nor brave. I just feel incredibly lucky. I see it as taking advantage of a tremendous, life-changing opportunity.
Antarctica is rare in that it’s a place on Earth with such little anthropogenic impact. In my 19 years of life, I’ve never been in an environment so unharmed and unaltered by people. In Antarctica we humans haven’t had enough time to destroy the land. No one owns any part of Antarctica, yet still, nations get along better there than most other places in the world. No person can live in Antarctica permanently; there are about 4,000 people who live and work there in the summer, and that number drops to only about 1,000 people during the winter.
This continent holds 70 percent of all the world’s fresh water and 90 percent of the Earth’s ice. It makes up one tenth of the entire earth’s land mass, though so few people have been there. I think it says something incredible about the human condition, that despite the fact that no other mammals can live exclusively on Antarctic land, and that it took us until very recently in history to successfully travel within the continent, we have been able to invent and adapt in order to survive there for periods of time.
Antarctica contains vast amounts of scientific information and essentially serves as an international science laboratory. The Dry Valleys are a close analog to the Martian climate, and the landscape has looked the same for millions of years, as it is a desert that is only home to bacteria. I will soon live a month and a half of my life without ever seeing the sun set, and while I’m in the field, I will likely be the first human to walk on some of the land (how cool is that????).
You know the strangest part of this all? I didn’t know anything about Antarctica a year ago. Now I get to learn more and more each day. So, if I have to go for 7 weeks with no showers, toilets, or heat, I will gladly accept the challenge, if it means it all gets to happen in this incredible continent.