The Arctic and Antarctic are two of the greatest deserts on earth, the least known and most vital to our survival, but polar opposites in more than geography. The High Arctic is a sea surrounded by land, Antarctica a mountainous continent surrounded by ocean. The Arctic sustains a large indigenous population; nobody but scientists with long supply lines can survive in Antarctica. Politically, the Arctic rim is controlled by the nations that surround it; Antarctica is neutral demilitarized territory supervised by an international treaty.;Between them, the polar regions act as the world's refrigerator, helping to drive the world's weather systems. Both contain clues to the origins and potential fate of the planet, and each contains riches for the meteorologist and geologist, the biologist and paleontologist - while offering temptations to the military strategist and the minor speculator who have already been at work in the north.;Writer and broadcaster Daniel Snowman has made a number of journeys to both polar regions. His visits around the circumpolar North have included journeys in the high Arctic by dog-sled, skidoo and dinghy as well as trips through the heart of the heavily militarized north Russia coastline and to the oil-rich North Slope of Alaska. He has also made voyages down to both East and West Antarctica and met those at the forefront of the debate about such issues as ozone depletion and global warming.;His book aims to combine science with social, economic and political analysis. It is tries to reveal something of the excitement of life at the ends of the earth - with concern for the issues that humanity may have to address.