A hulking great portal (four metres tall and four tonnes in weight) has popped up in Trafalgar Square, giving Londoners a chance to gaze longingly at somewhere even colder and emptier than London was this time last year: Antarctica.
The window broadcasts live footage from a series of very remote penguin colonies in the Antarctic (home of the famous ‘South Pole’). This is no random stunt, however. The adorable penguins serve a serious purpose. No lesser organisation than Greenpeace has created the Ice Portal (our name, not theirs) to remind Londoners about the vanishing Antarctic landscape.
‘During the pandemic, most of us felt pretty cut off from nature,’ said Will McCallum, head of oceans at Greenpeace UK. ‘But the world around us is still going on and places like the Antarctic are declining fast. We see these places on nature documentaries and they seem like another world, but they’re not, they’re our world. Hopefully people being able to see life going on in the Antarctic first hand, like these penguin chicks waddling across in front of me, will bring home how real and urgent the plight of the oceans is.’
Greenpeace is currently working with American scientists, studying the tragic decline of penguin populations in Antarctica. Last week, the expedition located a colony of gentoo penguins in a spot that is too cold for the animals to inhabit. This set all sorts of eco-alarm bells ringing. Anyway, those same penguins are the ones you can see beamed live through the portal in Trafalgar Square right now. Cute! But also worrying.
This March, the government enters negotiations at the United Nations to determine the fate of the planet's oceans. Hopefully the summit will result in protected ‘ocean sanctuaries’ across more than a third of the planet’s oceans.
The Antarctic Portal is in place until Sat Jan 29.
You can hang out with a holographic David Attenborough.
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