Antarctica's Flag Brings Focus to the Climate Crisis

Antarctica has a new, unofficial, flag. It was created in 2018 to represent a united Antarctica and draw attention to the global climate crisis.

While flag enthusiasts and interested parties have suggested continental flag designs for Antarctica and other continents, none are officially recognized. Why would we need a flag to represent a whole continent anyway, especially one where 98% is covered by ice that's over a mile thick?!

Antarctica is a special case. According to the Antarctica Treaty, which went into effect in 1961, no one owns it. No one lives there permanently. It's freezing cold and far away from most of the world. Nevertheless, the citizens of every other continent need to show Antarctica some love.

Antarctica is the location of one of the planet's two polar ice caps, dome-shaped sheets of ice that form because high-latitude polar regions receive less heat from the Sun than other parts of the globe. As the climate crisis continues, the polar ice caps are what's getting damaged.

That's what the new True South flag is all about. American journalist Evan Townsend designed it to create a distinctive identity for Antarctica and encourage its protection by the rest of the world. The True South flag website asserts that "stewardship of Antarctica is the privilege and responsibility of us all."

McMurdo Station

Spanning 5,500,000 sq mi, Antarctica is the fifth-largest continent and the world's largest desert. While Antarctica has no permanent human population, about 1200 people spend much of their time in McMurdo Station, the location of a United States Antarctic research station. There are about 90 people at the Villa Las Estrellas base, a Chilean town and research station on King George Island, and you can find about 50 people in the Argentinian Esperanza base at the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Unless you're one of those researchers, you probably don't think about Antarctica very often.

The True South flag aims to give the uninhabited continent a voice in the climate crisis. Two horizontal stripes of navy and white represent Antarctica's long days and nights. In the center, a white peak and blue angular base represent ice, snow, cold blue water, icebergs, and mountains, symbolically encapsulating the features of Antarctica's terrain while also suggesting a compass pointing South.

The temperature has reached −135.8 °F in Antarctica and averages −81 °F during the coldest season. It has not rained in parts of Antarctica for almost 2 million years. No one is suggesting you visit the continent, but supporters of the True South flag want to broadly encourage the protection of Antarctica by the entire population of Earth.

It's unlikely that anyone will come up with a better flag for Antarctica than the True South flag, but at Seterra, we'll monitor the situation and keep you informed. In the meantime, you can checkout this video to learn more, enjoy this quiz covering the Physical Features of Antarctica, or, if you're into flags, test yourself with this World Flags quiz.