A Question for the Kids

from Mr. Dave

Hi Patti and Kids,

I took a journey tonight to a very historic place. I walked about one half mile down the road to a place called Scott's Hut. It is an old wooden building built over 90 years ago. The roof made of wooden planks without any shingles. The hut was not open, but they do open it occasionally for people to see inside. I looked inside the window and saw old crates of food. On the outside under the overhang of the roof was a dead seal that was probably dried and smoked for food. Seals are abundant here, and I saw one lying on the ice near the hut.

There are some important things to learn about the hut. I am sure all of you do not litter, because you know it is bad for the environment. You would never throw a piece of plastic on the ground, because many years from now it would still be there. When I am at home in Snow Hill, I like gardening, and I compost all our garden waste. I layer old plants and leaves in a corner of the yard, and wet it down with the garden hose. Microbes in the pile help to break down the vegetation and turn it into soil. I then put the compost around the plants in the yard to help them grow.

There are many ways of preserving food, but 2 ways are drying and freezing. I am living in a desert, because there is very little precipitation. Here at McMurdo, the air is very dry, on the order of 5-15% humidity. Also this is a very cold environment, with average yearly temperatures that are below freezing. If I were to throw a piece of food like an apple core on the ground in Delmarva, it would decompose in a short time. If I were to do the same thing here, the apple would freeze and dry, and preserve very well for many years. Antarctica is a very fragile environment for these reasons. All trash produced here at McMurdo is crated and put on ships to take it to the USA. All attempts are made to recycle as much as possible. Just as Scott's Hut demonstrates, the impact of man and his waste is long lived. The hut looks as it did when it was erected, preserved by the temperature and humidity.

I have a question for you kids. Who put the hut where it is, and for what purpose was the hut used?

David Hess

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