It’s all about the ice. This breathtaking video allows us to see the most pristine place on our planet, Antarctica, but the message is that the planet is in trouble. It’s a good news/bad news scenario. The good news is that the ozone layer is no longer growing, a result of the halt on chlorofluorocarbon emissions. The bad news is that in the past 50 years, the temperature has increased from 5°F to 9°F. This growing/shrinking continent of ice is the temple of the world’s weather; there is more precipitation than ever, and it is taking its toll on the diversity of animal life. An example mentioned in the film is the 20% decline in the Adélie Penguin population.
Antarctica is a fragile ecosystem. As the ice shrinks and exposes the rock beneath, countries are already disputing ownership of the oil, diamond, and mineral rights. Another despoiler of Antarctica’s fragile equilibrium is the 40,000 tourists per year who visit the continent.
If you or your students have never seen an albino penguin, a collapsing ice arch, men diving into 29°F water, swimming penguins, or 22-foot sea kayaks navigating ice flows and floating sentinels (icebergs), this video is for you. One of the themes we investigate with our biology students is the human impact on the environment. Students from middle school through college will have an opportunity to hone their critical-thinking skills by viewing and discussing this film.