Food & Drink

Scientists In Antarctica Are in Trouble for Drinking Way Too Much

Published On 10/12/2015 Published On 10/12/2015
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Look, working in Antarctica has to suck. Few humans get the chance to experience the continent at the bottom of the world, but for valid reasons: it's bleak, freezing, and thousands of miles away from everyone you know. For all intents and purposes, it's another planet (with adorable penguins). 

Things just got even darker for the few brave scientists, cooks, technicians, and drivers who populate the South Pole for research and documentation purposes, too. They're going to have to cut back on the boozing, per a new mandate from the National Science Foundation, and might even have to be regularly breathalyzed, all because they've been drinking too much. What does "drinking too much" mean? Well, things like "...unpredictable behavior that has led to fights, indecent exposure, and employees arriving to work under the influence," according to a recently published health and safety report by the NSF, which thoroughly disapproves of these sub-zero shenanigans. 

Two stations -- McMurdo and South Pole -- were singled out as having serious alcohol problems; McMurdo has a diminutive population of 1,000 (less than 200 stay for the winter) but has three working bars, with nearly "60 to 75 percent" of residents struggling with regular alcohol abuse, according to a report published by Wired.

The problems caused by the excessive drinking are also exacerbated by a cultural rift between the scientists stationed at these outposts, and the contract workers (drivers, cooks, etc.) also employed -- most of the brawling happens along these distinct socio-economic lines. It's like Different Strokes, but with way more frostbite (temps at these remote outposts can get down to -50 degrees in the winter months), and much less Gary Coleman. 

It's unclear whether regular breathalyzer tests and increased regulation, two measures NSF proposed, would even soothe the liquor-based problems plaguing the outposts. But one thing is for certain: when it's cold and lonely, people like to drink. So good luck trying to stop them.

h/t Wired


Wil Fulton is a Staff Writer for Thrillist. He punched a penguin once, but no booze was involved. Follow him @wilfulton

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