In July 2017, newspapers in Dubai and around the world carried news of an Emirati company called the National Bureau Advisor Limited. The organisation, based in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, wished to tow icebergs from Antarctica to the Gulf, via the Indian Ocean. Their website regards the idea as both “visionary” and “out-of-the-box”, and claims it will solve the region’s mounting water crises, bring temperatures down by a few degrees, even transform a part of the desert into a green belt. They call it “Project Iceberg” and hope to make their maiden voyage in 2019.
Needless to say, environmentalists are less than thrilled with the idea. Logistical nightmares aside, Antarctica is one of the most brutal and fragile ecosystems on the planet—the only part of Earth that has remained free of human habitation. Even today, the only people on the white continent are scientists of various research stations, and the occasional tourist.
This is with good reason.
Antarctica is the coldest, driest, windiest place on Earth. Even in the Antarctic Peninsula, which has the mildest weather on the continent, day temperatures in the summer hover around 1°C; in winter the mercury drops to -20°C in the day. To survive Antarctica’s inhospitable conditions, the animals in the region have evolved in remarkable ways. It was this unique biodiversity that drew wildlife photographer Dhritiman Mukherjee to the region.