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Science and Stewardship in the Antarctic 5 The Future for Antarctic Science and Stewardship Science has a long and proud history in the Antarctic. Virtually all of the first antarctic expeditions explored not only the Antarctic itself but also its science. In today's world, nearly every discipline finds some unique scientific value in the Antarctic, and science will likely remain the central focus of antarctic activities in the future. Like all scientific activities, antarctic science will continue to strive toward exploration of new ideas and processes. Much of antarctic research focuses on expansion of our understanding of Earth, and the flora and fauna of this unique region. But the Environmental Protocol will impose on antarctic science and scientists an additional key role: a far greater degree of environmental responsibility toward the continent and its ecology. This added stewardship role, while challenging, also offers new benefits both to the science and to the environment. In addition, the new stewardship role and the Protocol imply that the link between science and policy will broaden, so that formulating effective policy on environmental issues will require greater ties between scientists and policymakers. BENEFITS OF THE NEW PROTOCOL From the perspective of antarctic scientists, the Protocol offers a variety of benefits. Most obviously, by enhancing existing international commitments and arrangements for protecting the antarctic environment, it will help preserve Antarctica's unique value for scientific research. The Protocol stresses this objective—Article 2 designates Antarctica ''as a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science,'' and Article 3 provides that "Activities shall be planned and conducted in the Antarctic Treaty Area so as to accord priority to scientific research and to preserve the value of Antarctica as an area for the conduct of research, including research essential to understanding the global environment." The additional environmental awareness evidenced by negotiation of
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Science and Stewardship in the Antarctic the Protocol has already encouraged protective steps—in tourism, for example—of great help to the maintenance of effective antarctic scientific programs. The Protocol is likely to result in clearer and better-organized administrative and regulatory procedures for the conduct of research, giving working scientists greater certainty of applicable regulations. Enhanced monitoring procedures required by the Protocol should provide data useful in establishing environmental baselines relevant to many areas of antarctic research. The Protocol's provisions for increased international consultation, exchanges of information, and collaboration should help foster the development of cooperative, nonduplicative, and mutually supportive research programs among the growing number of states engaged in antarctic scientific activities. The Protocol also should help assure that all antarctic scientists, regardless of national affiliation, will be conducting their research on a level playing field, subject to similar environmental requirements and standards. The Protocol may also have broader, less tangible benefits. Antarctic science, like all publicly supported science, necessarily depends largely on government and public interest and understanding. By designating Antarctica a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science, the Protocol publicly reaffirms the region's unique scientific and environmental significance. Media attention resulting in part from conclusion of the Protocol appears already to have led to broader public interest and appreciation not only of the unique beauty and fragility of Antarctica, but also of the global role and importance of antarctic research. Indeed, it is difficult for the media to discuss Antarctica without mentioning the primary role of scientific activity there. Moreover, by better defining the mutual goals of science and stewardship, the Protocol offers possibilities for art even closer alliance between antarctic scientists and international and national nongovernmental environmental organizations—a broad and active global constituency potentially uniquely supportive of the significance of high quality research on the continent. To maintain positive relations among these constituencies, decisions must continue to be based on the involvement of the concerned community in an open manner (i.e., the implementation process should be as transparent as possible). CHALLENGES OF RESEARCH AND STEWARDSHIP A number of challenges posed by the Protocol were described in Chapter 3. Many of these may best be met by establishing mechanisms for benefiting from the talents and input of the scientific community.
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Science and Stewardship in the Antarctic Protocol-Related Versus Other Science A key question for the future of antarctic science is the balance between traditional scientific studies and those that support the stewardship role mandated by the Protocol. Indeed, a potential pitfall could be a tendency to pursue scientific projects that, while environmentally-oriented, may not be as scientifically sound as others. Pressure to fund such projects in order to be seen to be addressing the goals of the Protocol should be resisted. Although tourism is growing rapidly, science and the associated logistics still represent the largest single impact upon the antarctic environment. Existing mechanisms for evaluating the scientific quality of proposed research projects do not fully address how the proposed research furthers scientific stewardship. All scientists wishing to perform research in Antarctica must submit proposals that are rigorously and thoroughly reviewed by the world's experts on the subject in question. Scrutiny to be imposed by the additional requirements of the Protocol should not replicate or extend this process. However, it may be desirable to pose an additional set of questions to proposers and reviewers, within the current proposal review process, that addresses the project's consistency with the spirit of the Protocol. Such questions to the proposers could seek their evaluation of the environmental impact of the project in question and their description of any steps to be taken to minimize that impact. Possible questions to the reviewers could seek their opinion of whether a particular project is likely to involve adverse impacts on the environment. Quality of Environmental Monitoring Science can play a substantial role in shaping the implementation of the Protocol as efficiently and rationally as possible. In particular, rational decisions on what to monitor, how, and by whom to ensure the health of the antarctic environment must be based on good science. Considerations in establishing and evaluating a monitoring program were given in Chapter 4. The Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) currently has a program that attempts to obtain data that reflect the impacts of commercial fishing on ecosystem structure and function. These data could also be valuable for the governance activities required by the Protocol. Conversely, the monitoring activities called for by the Protocol could be useful to CCAMLR. The Protocol seeks to avoid duplicative monitoring and research, to coordinate among national programs, and to insure prompt exchange of scientific information. The connection between CCAMLR and the Protocol structures require further examination and perhaps implementation of formal exchange arrangements.
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Science and Stewardship in the Antarctic Consideration of Scientific Views in Policy Once the United States establishes mechanisms for implementing the Protocol, it will be highly desirable to continue to ask, "How well is it working?" Existing institutions could provide this function, periodically examining the effectiveness of current control measures and suggesting improvements for consideration at the national level. One such possible group, for example, is the National Science Foundation's internal Advisory Committee for the Office of Polar Programs. This committee includes expert representatives of most antarctic scientific communities. It may be useful to consider additional members with expertise in environmental monitoring, environmental law, and related areas. In addition, science must be the basis for identifying and monitoring environmental problems and verifying predicted improvements. Scientific information is crucial for formulating effective international policy for environmental protection in Antarctica. This scientific information should be given to policymakers in a form that is both authoritative (i.e., representative of the consensus of the international scientific community familiar with the issues in question) and policy-friendly (i.e., the policymaker should not need to examine an extensive scientific literature to get the needed facts and figures). These goals are formidable, but successful precedents exist. With regard to the issue of ozone depletion, for example, international scientific experts meet every two to four years at the request of the Consulting Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Ozone-depleting Substances to prepare a consensus assessment of the current understanding of science, technology, and impacts under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organization. More than 150 experts from 25 countries contributed to writing and reviewing the most recent (WMO, 1991) ozone assessment. Periodic international scientific assessments could provide the best possible basis for evaluating the state of the antarctic environment, including prioritizing waste management issues, delineating needs for future monitoring, and coordinating international efforts. The establishment of mechanisms for obtaining scientific advice and information is the first step toward gaining the best possible scientific input to the policy process, both at the national and international levels. Such input from science and scientists would help the Protocol to be a living instrument that continues to meet its goals in an evolving world. Recommendation 8: The U.S. representative to the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP) should encourage the CEP to organize and undertake periodically an international scientific assessment of the state of understanding of environmental problems and challenges in the Antarctic.
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Science and Stewardship in the Antarctic Speeding Implementation of the Protocol The Protocol ratification process could take years. The Committee hopes that the expeditious adoption of implementing legislation by the United States Congress and depositing of the Protocol by the Executive Branch will encourage the acceleration of this process internationally. In the meantime, the United States should proceed to implement the provisions of the new legislation. In addition, the United States should encourage other ATCPs to initiate informal, interim mechanisms of implementation, such as the establishment of the CEP. Such steps on the national and international levels could provide a means toward implementation of the Protocol's requirements notwithstanding a potentially lengthy ratification process. CONCLUSION The Environmental Protocol mandates a new future for antarctic science, one that continues the history of scientific excellence but requires a new degree of scientific responsibility and stewardship. Careful implementation of the Protocol will yield both better science and better stewardship. The establishment and periodic examination of a scientifically-based monitoring program will be critical to the attainment of science and stewardship goals. Further, the scientific community must better examine itself to ensure that scientific activities embody the greatest possible effort to protect the antarctic environment. The scientific community has much to offer in implementing the Protocol, and its continued advice and input should be sought.
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