About 90 million years ago,
the frozen realm of Antarctica
used to be a lush, swampy, temperate forest,
similar to those found in New Zealand today.
The rainforest managed to thrive,
even with four months of polar night,
when there was no sunlight.
What if this ancient rainforest
decided it was time to make a comeback?
What if Antarctica became a rainforest?
Would this work out well for us?
Or be devastated for the human race?
This is WHAT IF
a history would happen
if Antarctica were a rainforest.
Rainforests are the oldest living ecosystems on land,
and there is complex as they are diverse.
They’re home to over half of the planet’s plant and animal species
while only covering 6% of the Earth’s surface.
Just 10 km² of rainforest
can contain up to 1,500 flowering plants,
750 different species of trees,
400 species of birds,
and 150 species of butterflies.
Antarctica has an area of 14 million km²
which makes it about 1.4 times bigger than Europe,
and almost twice the size of Australia.
Now, imagine all that frozen tundra
was lush with plant and animal life.
If Antarctica was a rainforest,
it could consume more
of the world’s carbon dioxide,
reducing the amount in the atmosphere.
That could be very helpful
in our fight against climate change.
There could be new resources for us to exploit,
such as plants for medicines and food,
more trees for buildings and fancy furniture.
But there is a downside.
Before we would be able to exploit these new resources,
we would need to increase the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Carbon dioxide helps to heat the Earth’s atmosphere.
The current levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide
won’t be able to support a massive temperate rainforest in Antarctica.
But as we know,
increasing carbon dioxide is a bad idea.
It would be extremely harmful
and only add fuel to the fire that is climate change.
And with Antarctica going through its green makeover,
massive amounts of ice would melt.
This means there would be a less white area to reflect sunlight,
and more dark area to absorb warmth.
That would accelerate climate change
to the point that the Earth wouldn’t even be hospitable for us.
But would the carbon dioxide consumed by the new rainforest
balance out the increased warming?
Well, here’s the problem.
We don’t know.
Current studies haven’t been able to come up with an answer to this question.
So, you feel lucky?
Well, do you?
The loss of ice would also impact
the species that currently inhabit that area.
Oh no, not the penguins!
哦 不 不要是企鹅！
And to make matters worse,
ice doesn’t just disappear,
All that water would have to go somewhere.
The Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition
estimates that sea levels would rise at least 60 m (200 ft).
the Amazon river basin,
and Central China,
they’d all be underwater.
Between one and two billion people would be displaced.
That is, unless they want to go the way of Atlantis.
Well, it can’t get any worse, can it?
Our ocean currents would be disrupted by the influx of water.
So what does all this mean for you?
Well, the changing ocean currents could
seriously mess up the Earth’s weather patterns.
Agricultural land that we depend on for food could be turned into deserts.
Deserts could be turned into flooded plains.
“dogs and cats, living together, mass hysteria!”
“Enough, I get the point!”
We can only guess where these changes might occur
because of how complex the Earth’s weather system is.
So, could Antarctica turn into a rainforest?
Well, it’s already starting to happen.
Climate change is currently turning Antarctica green.
If we don’t curb our greenhouse gas emissions,
our planet is going to continue to heat up,
and ice is going to continue to melt.
It is possible that eventually,
we could turn Antarctica into a green continent.
But it may lead to devastating consequences for our survival.
And if Antarctica did become a rainforest,
that would mean a lot of uncharted territory to explore.
In the Amazon Rainforest alone,
a new species is discovered every other day.
What could be hiding in a new Antarctic rainforest?
Could we finally find some long lost creatures,
Well, that’s a story for another WHAT IF.
好吧 这又是另一个“WHAT IF”的故事
About 90 million years ago,