A southern memory on borrowed time
The Antarctic continent – senced since the 16th century, dream, imagined – fascinates and crystallizes the dreams of the man : always push his limits for research, fortune or glory.
At the beginning of the century, it became the new white eldorado for the more adventurous: the coastal waters of the world’s largest desert proved to be a formidable provider of whale oil, one of the world’s leading energy sources of thoses times. Men have settled in this hostile and extreme environment, where survival depends on technological genius. Intensive hunting of whales has caused their population to decline to near extinction. In the 1940s, men deserted the place again. They left the ruins of an ancient civilization that was unable to adapt to its environment because it had exhausted all resources.
In a superb resilience, the continent today seems to have healed its wounds. His majesty seems indomitable, his purity eternal. Yet she is more than ever threatened.
The history of humans in Antarctica is a metaphor for human presence on Earth. Glaciers have taken thousands of years to form and the ice cap is a climate archive for millennia. While the man – little flea jump in the history of the planet – has arrived on this territory for less than 150 years. But in barely a century, human activities have made its future uncertain like that of the planet. Generalized pollution, global warming, the pressure of lobbies to exploit fossil resources, over-fishing and more and more cruise ships spilling by hundreds of tourists in search of novelty are an elusive but very real threat.
Previously, human boundaries were at the edge of territories and discovery. Today, the greatest challenge of humanity is the preservation of these territories: a beautiful blue planet.