Please Stop Traveling to Antarctica

Sara Clemence makes her case in the 'Atlantic'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 11, 2023 4:24 PM CDT
Please Stop Traveling to Antarctica
Paradise Bay, on the Antarctic Peninsula.   (Getty/Marc-Andre LeTourneaux)

In the first part of her essay on Antarctica, Sara Clemence recounts its "otherworldly" beauty. But that's merely a prelude to a plea she then issues: Everybody should stop traveling there before the increasingly fragile continent is wrecked irreparably. In the Atlantic piece, she notes that Antarctica drew only a few hundred visitors a year four decades ago. In the most recent tourist season, a record 100,000-plus visitors, most of them on cruise ships, showed up. She sees it as "last-chance tourism—a desire to see a place before it's gone, even if that means helping hasten its disappearance." Because, yes, the same warming climate that's melting sea ice and imperiling the continent is making it easier to travel there through an extended cruise season.

"Overtourism isn't a new story," writes Clemence. "But Antarctica, designated as a global commons, is different from any other place on Earth. ... It is singular, and in its relative wildness and silence, it is the last of its kind. And because Antarctica is different, we should treat it differently: Let the last relatively untouched landscape stay that way." One problem is that tourism is at best loosely regulated through a patchwork of international treaties—which is why it's now possible to stay at a luxury camp in what used to be a pristine landscape. If Antarctica is on your bucket list, do the continent a favor and remove it. "These days, few arenas exist where individual decisions make a difference," writes Clemence. "Antarctica could be one of them." (Read the full essay.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.