Periodic Reporting for period 2 - GRETPOL (Greening the Poles: Science, the Environment, and the Creation of the Modern Arctic and Antarctic)
Reporting period: 2018-08-01 to 2020-01-31
The golden thread that runs through GRETPOL is that the kinds of actions deemed appropriate in polar spaces always reflect the anxieties and ambitions of particular historical contexts. That understanding in turn demands research across state boundaries, with the aim of transcending national versions of stories that are by their nature often international, such as the 1973 Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears or the 1980 Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Living Marine Resources. By exploring how polar environments were defined and managed during the Cold War -- a period when interest in both polar regions was arguably at an all-time high -- our hope is to challenge ideas that environmental management flows primarily from natural scientific findings alone. Choices to regulate certain activities (like hunting or mining) or to regard particular actors (such as Indigenous groups) as relevant participants in decision-making processes were fundamentally political and social. At the mid-point of the project, the research team has already begun to develop new understandings of how and why particular agreements became possible at particular historical moments, bringing in diverse factors ranging from national economic structures through to military-strategic imperatives and changing public perceptions of risk and development. There is nothing inevitable or irreversible about such agreements. Like all events that make sense in particular historical moments, changing values and priorities in the future may well lead to different conceptions of what kinds of activities are warranted in the polar regions, and indeed in other environments.