'"We Need To Talk About Antarctica" Draft Index' by Bella Klaver

F. This

F. This


This piece was joint second runner-up in the The Lifted Brow andRMIT non/fictionLab Experimental Non-fiction Prize for 2018. It was also published in Issue #42 of The Lifted Brow. Get your copy here.

Year that an Australian Government environmental impact assessment recommended against the construction of a runway on rock anywhere within Australian Antarctic Territory: 2003

Date that the Australian Government announced its intention to construct one anywayto provide year-round access*: 18.5.2018

Copies of The Sound of One Hand Clapping in the Davis Station library, 6 km from ‘ground zero’: 1

Countries collaborating with Australia on world-class scientific research in Antarctica notwithstanding the current summer-only access: 28

Institutions collaborating notwithstanding the current access: 176

Localities Australian scientists have visited notwithstanding the current access: 3,463

Deaths of Australian program personnel attributed to a lack of evacuation capability in winter for a 60-year period: 0

Deaths in Antarctica from a single plane crash: 257

Rock/paved runways built and in use: 3

Length (m) of the UK’s, Argentina’s and Chile’s runways: 900, <1,300, and <1,300 respectively

How much ours will be bigger than yours (m): >1,400 (i.e. 2,700)

Letters in ‘VIAGRA’, an acronym coined for the facility, i.e. Vestfolds International Airport: Go Root Antarctica: 6

Comprehensive environmental evaluations thus far undertaken by Australia in relation to the impacts of its Antarctic operations: 0

Year the Australian Antarctic Division documented and self-authorised the environmental impacts of its preparatory geotechnical studies: 2016

Text mentions of the runway in the 52-page document released to the public: 1

Letters in the word ‘transparency’: 12

Year a senior Australian Government advisor thought burying nuclear waste in Antarctica was a good idea: 1963

Year the US Congress thought building a nuclear reactor in Antarctica was a good idea: 1960

Size of the team needed to look after the reactor: 25

Number of times ‘Arneb PM-3A’ malfunctioned: 436

Latest estimate (m3) of abandoned and unconfined tip materials and petroleum-contaminated sediments impacting on the Antarctic environment: 1,000,000–10,000,000

Years passed since Australia ratified the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty which requires Parties clean sites of past activity: 24

Year of clean-up of Wilkes Station, abandoned by Australia in 1969: [Ed: was there meant to be a ref here?]

Recent estimate of unused stations, refuges and camps in Antarctica: 240

Percentage of Antarctica that is exposed rock: <0.2

Percentage of Antarctica’s biodiversity for which exposed rock is key habitat: >95

Combined percentage of areas of Antarctica exhibiting a positive radiation balance and categorised as oases: 0.05

Year the Vestfold Hills Oasisthe runway sitewas declared the finest example of an oasis in the whole of Antarctica: 1985

Width (km) of the Vestfold Hills Oasis, a rare “island in the ice”: ~30

Hills of the oasis to be blasted and levelled: [Ed: When will we have this information?]

Radial distance (km) over which runway operations can be expected to spread particulates etc. (based on monitoring at Australia’s Wilkins Aerodrome): ~5

Buildings installed at Wilkins to support summer-only operations: ~18

Bird populations in the Vestfold Hills Oasis deemed internationally significant (BirdLife International and Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research joint assessment): 8

Adélie penguin breeding pairs in these colonies alone: >160,000

Number of bird species in the Casey Station area known to have macro-plastics in their guts: 5

Populations of southern giant petrels an endangered species thought to be breeding in East Antarctica: 4

Occupied giant petrel nests in the Vestfold Hills’ colony when censused in 2014: 40

Wing span (m) of C-17 Globemasters: 52

Wing span (m) of a giant petrel: <2

Proximity (m) of planes’ likely flight paths to bird and seal colonies: [Ed: number missing]

Area (km2 ) to be exposed to 75+ decibels: [Ed: ???]

Commonwealth regulation (Public Service Regulations 1999) that prohibits the disclosure of inconvenient truths: 2.1

Career prospects for whistleblowers: <0

Estimated number of king penguins stampeding to their death on sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island following a low-altitude pass by a large military “asset”: 7,000

Lakes and other waterbodies — some the world’s freshest and saltiest — found in the Vestfold Hills Oasis: 300+

Australian Antarctic Program spills of diesel, aviation fuel, hydraulic oil, unleaded petrol and glycol (reported to 2015): 44

Hydro-carbon contaminated soil (tonnes) excavated from the side of a lake near Davis in the Vestfold Hills Oasis: ~168

The spill size (litres) requiring incident response: 615

Largest reported/known Australian program fuel spill (litres): 11,500

Number of months during which Weddell seals pup in the Vestfold Hills Oasis: 3

Kilograms of explosives believed used by the French before they abandoned construction of their Dumont d’Urville Station runway: 173,000

Estimated kilograms of rock blasted before they gave up: 1,200,000,000

Countries possibly interested in using Australia’s new runway: 3

Distance (km) from possibly interested parties’ stations to the new runway site: ~115

Distance (km) from their stations to the runway they currently use: <10

Tourists typically visiting Antarctica each summer: 40,000+

World ranking of Australians with respect to number of annual visitors to Antarctica: 3

Going rate per person (US$) for a trip to the South Pole: 84,000

Conservative estimate of annual visitors to Antarctica by 2060: 120,000–160,000

Reported likelihood of tourism being used to subsidise the high cost estimated for runway construction: 0

Word count for ‘bullshit’: 1

Cattle taken to Antarctica (Admiral Richard E Byrd’s admirable idea): 3

Pigs and mules and Manchurian and Siberian and Indian horses also taken: 40+

Decades throughout which micro-organisms in animal faeces and foodstuffs have been found to remain viable pollutants of the Antarctic environment: 5

Antarctic guidelines specifying allowable levels of bacteria in stations’ sewage outfalls: 0

Summer population of McMurdo Station, currently the continent’s largest: >1,000

Hormones and chemical compounds from the degradation of pharmaceutical and personal care products detected in Antarctica: 16

Decades in which flies introduced via cargo have reproduced at Casey Station: 2

Total number of non-native vascular plant, invertebrate and vertebrate species recorded in the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic by 2005: 108, 72 and 16 (respectively)

Sites within Antarctica that Treaty Parties have thus far recognised need heightened protection: 82

The page number of the Environmental Protocol in which it is stated that the protection of the Antarctic environment and its scientific, wilderness and aesthetic values are to be fundamental considerations in the planning and conduct of activities in the Antarctic Treaty Area: 1

Year Parties adopted an Annex to the Protocol on liability for environmental damage inflicted: 2005

Year of the Annex’s entry into force: [Ed: this is meant to be blank, yes?]

Years still waiting: 14

Opening of Davis Station: 13.1.1957

Decades since an eminent scientist observed that man’s impact on Antarctica’s fauna “is not insignificant, and tends in a depressing way to be cumulative where occupation has lasted a long time”: 5

Section of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 that mandates protecting the environment from Commonwealth agencies taking actions that will likely cause significant impact: 28

Degrees of separation between the proponent and regulator of Australian Antarctic Program builds: 0

Parliamentary phone number for the current Federal Minister for the Environment: (02) 6277 7920

Estimated fucks given by the Minister’s Office and the runway project sponsors about what you think: 0

* ‘The new runway will complement Australia’s existing summer-only ice runway at Wilkins Aerodrome, and will provide more reliable access to Antarctica throughout the year, improving our ability to conduct year-round, world-class scientific research and respond to emergencies.’ —Josh Frydenberg Media Release, 2018

Bella Klaver is an Australian-born writer.