…namely that a ship full of global warming advocates on the way to Antarctica in the middle of summer in the southern hemisphere…got stuck in the far-thicker-than-normal ice which has been present there for the last year and a half.
And a Chinese icebreaker sent to free them was also stuck in the heavier-than-normal ice.
Then an Australian icebreaker sent to free the two ships had to turn back because the ice is too thick.
And now, when the heavy snowstorm at their location lets up, helicopters will be sent in to get them. Which could be several days from today.
The major concern in the “scientific community” (a.k.a., people who push global warming theory as “science” in return for lucrative grants from leftist foundations) is that this episode will damage the public’s support for global warming, and the impoverishing socialist policies demanded by the theory, as a purported reality.
If you follow the discussion around #SpiritOfMawson — the Twitter hashtag for the project — you’ll also note how this misadventure has energized climate change contrarians, offering a distraction from serious research on the impact of climate change on Antarctica.
Despite the fact the planet hasn’t warmed since the 1990’s, that is. And despite the fact that global sea ice is at its second-highest level since measurements began.
But here’s the thing – the Spirit of Mawson expedition wasn’t serious science of any kind. It was a publicity junket and a tourism expedition led by a professor of global warming from the University of New South Wales named Christopher Turnley, and the preparations for the trip were as slipshod and scammish as the supposed science underlying it…
Inadequate, bargain-price research vessel
The first error expedition leaders made was under-estimating the prevailing sea ice conditions at Mawson Station, their destination. The scientists seemed to be convinced that Antarctica was a warmer place today than it had been 100 years earlier, and thus perhaps they could expect less sea ice there. This in turn would allow them to charter a lighter, cheaper vessel.
This seems to be the case judging by their choice of seafaring vessel. They chartered a Russian vessel MS Akademik Shokalskiy, an ice-strengthened ship built in Finland in 1982. According to Wikipedia the ship has two passenger decks, with dining rooms, a bar, a library, and a sauna, and accommodates 54 passengers and a crew of up to 30. Though it is ice-reinforced, it is not an ice-breaker. This is a rather surprising selection for an expedition to Antarctica, especially in view that the AAE website itself expected to travel through areas that even icebreakers at times are unable to penetrate, as we are now vividly witnessing. Perhaps the price for chartering the Russian vessel was too good to pass up.
Luring naïve tourists as a source of cash
What made the expedition even more dubious is that Turney and his team brought on paying tourists in what appears to have been an attempt to help defray the expedition’s costs and to be a source of cheap labor. According to the AAE website, the expedition was costed at US$1.5 million, which included the charter of the Akademik Shokalskiy to access the remote locations. “The site berths on board are available for purchase.” Prices start at $8000!
The expedition brought with it 4 journalists, 26 paying tourists.
Here it seems that the obvious risks and hazards of bringing tourists to the world’s harshest environment in a budget-priced vessel unable to handle ice-breaking may have been brushed aside, or at least played down. Was this reckless on the part of the expedition? That Antarctica is a harsh environment was in fact known to expedition leader Chris Turney: Bild online here quotes Turney: “In the Antarctic the conditions are so extreme that you can never make forecasts.” Is this an environment you’d want to bring unfamiliar tourists in – on a vessel that cannot even break ice?
As an expedition to Antarctica is nothing less than an extreme adventure in every sense, employing guides who are highly trained professionals would seem a must when tourists are involved. Scientists are not tour guides. Many of the passengers were there for the very first time and had zero experience with the region’s conditions. It seems reckless to me.
Everything about the expedition was based on false assumptions – that antarctic sea ice is shrinking, that weather conditions there are conducive to good-time tourism, that you can charter a ship which is not an icebreaker for a trip to a glacier.
But false assumptions are the stock in trade of the global warming advocacy crowd. And it all works well until they have to act on those assumptions in real life.
That’s when the bill comes due, and someone has to rescue you from your assumptions.