Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 08-16-2008, 01:31 PM
Will Repair Will Repair is offline
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Arcade
Posts: 2,280
Survival on Antarctica?

Two questions about survival on Antarctica -

Could Eskimos survive on Antarctica?
Could a polar bear survive on Antarctica (after all the penguins were eaten)?
Old 08-17-2008, 01:07 PM
Will Repair Will Repair is offline
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Arcade
Posts: 2,280
No responses? The Arctic Circle was populated because of nearby land masses. Antarctica is separated from South America by a violent sea and is even further from Africa and Australia. So it seems reasonable to speculate that Antarctica is habitable even though not populated.

Also is there enough prey to support polar bears? Although if polar bears were relocated to Antarctica the penguin population would probably be exterminated.
Old 08-17-2008, 01:27 PM
KRSOradio KRSOradio is offline
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 119
What about that long peninsula of Antartica?
Old 08-17-2008, 02:10 PM
Critical Mass Critical Mass is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Manitoba
Posts: 848
I donít think I can give you a fact based answer that befits GQ, however I can take a stab at it.

Iíve spent two years living in Canadaís arctic. Iíve also read a little bit about the continent of Antarctica. It doesnít sound too promising for your hypothesis.

If Iím to believe Wiki, about 98% of the continent is permanently covered by ice 1.6 km thick.

Much of the population (~75%) of Canadaís north live south of the Arctic circle and the vast majority live along the coast of Hudson Bay, Baffin Island or the Arctic Ocean. According to Wiki, the southern continent is entirely south of the Antarctic circle.

The residents of the Arctic rely on an ecosystem that has an annual summer season. The snow and sea ice melt. The Inuit are hunters / gatherers and have been able to sustain themselves in a relatively diverse ecosystem. Land mammals are hunted for their meat and skins. Arctic Char and other fresh water species of fish are part of the diet. Hunting of marine mammals such as seal, walrus and whale are vital to the survival of the Inuit. There is some edible vegetation. I donít know how much this contributes to Inuit diet versus feeding the hunted animals, but berries and other nutritious flora does exist. It appears that there is not such a varied ecosystem at Antarctica. The conditions do not exist to support land based animals more complex than birds.

Polar bears are specialized hunters. Their survival depends on their ability to spend many months on the sea ice hunting very energy-rich seals. I donít know if polar bears could hunt or sustain themselves on a diet of penguin. Nor do I know if the seal population follows any sort of migratory route that keeps it in ice conditions conducive to bear hunting patterns.

Without doing in-depth research, my answer is that the conditions at Antarctica are so different than the Northern polar region that humans and polar bears could not survive in that ecosystem.

Last edited by Critical Mass; 08-17-2008 at 02:13 PM.
Old 08-17-2008, 02:22 PM
Will Repair Will Repair is offline
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Arcade
Posts: 2,280
Does lichen, a source of Vitamin C, grow in Antarctica?
Old 08-17-2008, 03:20 PM
Critical Mass Critical Mass is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Manitoba
Posts: 848
Yes, but you'll see that Cecil has shown that a diet high in protein from raw meat has enough vitamin C to sustain human beings.
Old 08-17-2008, 08:03 PM
Green Bean Green Bean is offline
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: NJ, Exit #137
Posts: 12,024
Funny, I just finished Antarctica by Kim Stanley Robinson. It deals with this very issue. Well, the issue of humans on Antarctica, not polar bears. It takes place in some unspecified near future, where some significant global warming has occurred. I don't know how "factual" it is, and I'm not going to spoil the book for you, but you might find it an interesting read.
Old 08-18-2008, 06:10 AM
Meurglys Meurglys is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Edinburgh
Posts: 2,289
I was about to mention Antarctica! Stan Robinson spent some time (2 months? 3 months? I forget) in Antarctica researching the book and he tends to stick a lot closer to science than many science fiction writers! His characters are all using cutting-edge technology though, not ancestral skills handed down through the generations...

I expect polar bears could survice on various sub-antarctic islands - South Georgia or Kerguelan for instance - which both manage to support imported reindeer herds, but not on the actual mainland of Antarctica.


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:43 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to:

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017