This seems like an easy question to tackle. If you’re wondering “Is Antarctica real?” it undoubtedly is. It’s a continent that spans the Earth’s South Pole and is the fifth-largest on the planet, according to National Geographic.
A Columbia University website on the history of the Earth notes that Antarctica was part of several supercontinents that predated the current configuration of land masses on the planet.
Antarctica is thought to have been part of Pangea 250 million years ago, connected to present-day India and Australia, before migrating toward the South Pole.
It’s also is theorized to have been a tropical landmass near the equator more than a billion years ago as part of Rodinia.
While Antarctica is the only current continent that doesn’t have permanent human habitation, National Geographic notes that it does have “permanent human settlements, where scientists and support staff live for part of the year on a rotating basis.”
National Geographic said, though, that the continent is perceived of as a single landmass because of a massive ice sheet that covers it.
“Without any ice,” it writes, hopefully not foretelling the future, “Antarctica would emerge as a giant peninsula and archipelago of mountainous islands, known as Lesser Antarctica, and a single large landmass about the size of Australia, known as Greater Antarctica. These regions have different geologies.”
According to the U.S. State Department, “Seven countries (Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway, and the United Kingdom) maintain territorial claims in Antarctica, but the United States and most other countries do not recognize those claims. While the United States maintains a basis to claim territory in Antarctica, it has not made a claim.”
In 1959, 53 nations signed on to an Antarctic Treaty determining it should be maintained for “peaceful purposes only.” Babies born on the continent—and there have been some—generally adopt the nationality of their parents. There are not, as of yet, native Antarcticans.
So why do people ask ‘is Antarvtica real’?
According to USA Today, a now-deleted Instagram post gave ammunition to Flat Earthers and doubters, positing Antarctica wasn’t a real continent, but an ice wall like in Game of Thrones.
The article noted, “An Oct. 29 Instagram post includes a photo of television adventurer Bear Grylls, accompanied by text saying Antarctica is the ‘ice wall around this flat Earth.’ The image received over 500 likes in 10 days.”
The article goes on to quote the post author, who said, “The ice walls, which contain the waters are real. Many have seen them but few have ever gone past them. When will the ruling powers of this realm allow us to leave our confined space? Are we destined to go beyond or are will physically not able to?”
That led another Instagram commenter to say, “Don’t think we’ll ever be allowed. That would blow their globe Earth theory, wouldn’t it? And the house of cards would tumble.”
A Forbes article from 2019, noted that proponents of a flat earth worldview were planning Antarctica expeditions to better understand “the edge of the world.”
The article noted, “A growing community of theorists who believe the world is actually flat is organizing conventions, cruises, a planned television series, and future expeditions to uncover what they believe are the hidden truths and mysteries of the world.”
That included a somewhat surprising ally. As Forbes reported, “Even controversial YouTube star Logan Paul recently expressed his desire to journey to the edge of the Earth and released a mockumentary called The Flat Earth: to the Edge and Back giving many flat-earthers hope for a well-known supporter, but in the end, it was just a publicity stunt.”
The article went on to quote aspiring reality TV show Jay Decasby, who declared, “All we have to do to shut this debate down once and for all is get the distance of the coast of Antarctica. It had been done by early sailors (before the UN was established and set up its Antarctic Treaty which essentially made it illegal for independent and private exploration of Antarctica) who managed to make 60k+ miles, which irrefutably proves the flat earth model, but like all the other mountains of evidence for flat earth this is not enough for ballers today.”
“If we can get to the coast of Antarctica and sail all the way around it,” he went on to say, “we will get the distance that will prove it’s the outer edges of flat earth and refute entirely every single argument anyone can possibly try to pitch for the sun-worshipping cult of heliocentrism.”
Or, they could trust the satellites in space.
The USA Today article asserting Antarctica is real cited “satellite data from NASA and independent companies,” which reveal it to be “an island with a definitive end.”
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*First Published: Aug 19, 2023, 8:00 am CDT
Phil West is a veteran professional writer and editor, and the author of two books on soccer, ‘The United States of Soccer,’ and ‘I Believe That We Will Win,’ both from The Overlook Press. His work has appeared most recently in The Striker, where he serves as managing editor, MLSSoccer.com, Next City, and Texas Highways. Based in Austin, he is also a lecturer in the Writing Program at the University of Texas at San Antonio.