China and the International Rush to Claim Antarctica
In 2048, a very important international event will occur: The Antarctic Treaty, which stops countries from mining the continent’s abundant resources, will come up for review. China, the US, the UK, and other countries intend to be ready.This weekend, China unveiled its fourth polar research station:
Taishan is a 3,000 square foot lab that can house up to 20 people at peak times. The building’s unique shape has been compared to a lantern, in fact, the idea is to keep snow from impacting the sides of the structure during gales.
There’s also a runway for aircraft, because Taishan is fairly far inland. According to CCTV, the entire thing took just 53 days to build, which is a pretty impressive feat. Sadly it’s only expected to last for 15 years, tops. After all, the half life for architecture on this frozen continent is notoriously short.
So, what’s the big deal? China has a handful of other stations on the continent, after all, and is still lagging behind the US and the UK, though the country plans to build another station soon.
But every country that set themselves up in Antarctica is investing in more than just scientific inquiry here. They’re also investing in the plentiful resources, like oil, precious metals, and even fishing rights, that this currently protected continent could someday provide them access to. So though we don’t hear about it very often, Antarctica is the focus of a long, slow, political land grab.