Q is for Question: a short love letter to the scientific method #antarcticalphabet

Query Island is a pimple in the ice at nearly 69° south, its existence a question till 1948. The Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey (predecessor to BAS) named it recognising the difficulty of distinguishing it from the mass of the Peninsula.   That’s science for you: honouring the question. The ‘scientific … Continue reading

#penguinrights and habitat corpus: #antarcticalphabet

    Let us sound the battle-cry for #penguinrights. Suppose penguins took us humans to court for destroying their habitat? Suppose they won?  I am not talking only of animal rights, or even land rights, but earth rights. Penguin power is habitat corpus: the battle to protect an ecosystem – … Continue reading

#AntarcticAlphabet: O is for oil

Oil drips down the trypots and the rigs. It oozes in tarpits, welling up from the ground, the black gold of fantasy released by water under pressure, the raw hydraulics of fracking. The revolution relies on the stuff; prosperity and peace rise with carbon dioxide released into air and ocean. … Continue reading

N is for Navigation: #AntarcticAlphabet

Navigation: The process or activity of accurately ascertaining one’s position and planning and following a route The passage of ships (Oxford Dictionary) ‘The demanding test of landfall’ (David Lewis, We The Navigators) Once upon a time, in the old days, those imagined times when everything was better – yet somehow … Continue reading

M is for migration and life on Mars: #AntarcticAlphabet

Penguin chicks lie among the pebbles. Still nearly complete, some of them, beaks agape and wings extended as if the raw spine might haul itself up and zombie-walk to the sea. Remnants are arranged into memento mori, reminiscent of Victorian child shrines kept by loving mothers. Scraps of bone and feather … Continue reading

L is for Language: #AntarcticAlphabet

There is no private, prior language. No baby talk nor word of god has meaning beyond our shared agreement. Today, it seems, our shared language has betrayed us, is fading to leave only the emoticon of a tear.   Real things exist whatever their names on our charts. You can be shipwrecked on … Continue reading

#AntarcticAlphabet: K is for kelp

Kelp connects everything, from the Orkneys to the South Shetlands. Seafloor to surface, dark to light. Brown, red, ochre, rust within the grey/blue/white of the Antarctic seas. The simplicity of stipe and stem dancing inside the heart-breaking, never-ending complexity of the wave. And of course, almost mundane, the host of lives … Continue reading

#AntarcticAlphabet: J is for Jabberwock

Jabberwock is the beast of change, of many words spat out into the trees, the jib-jab of uncertainty. Spells of shapeshifting are cast on the breeze and scribbled across the mackerel sky. She is slain by an unknown boy, the beamish boy, with his sword of the spoken truth, the … Continue reading

#AntarcticAlphabet: I is for ice

Ice strains, cracks and sometimes breaks, under the burden, slips and slides, does not stay in place, does not stay still. Glaciers, like poems, appear solid, inevitable, perfect at their heart, but are not. Impermanent ice weathers like epigraphs in the graveyard, words written on the changing world. Rivers flow, … Continue reading

#AntarcticAlphabet: H is for home

Home is where the heart is, where we hope and plan, even dream. Not-home, elsewhere, is transition, a coming or a going, a place whose future is not our business. Almost every building we’ve seen since Puerto Williams has been ugly, bases and settlements of corrugated metal, old machinery and … Continue reading