In the Good Old Summertime

Summer is in full swing now in the southern hemisphere, which includes Antarctica. You have penguins on the beaches trying to catch some rays, and sea lions just off shore trying to catch some penguins.

Have you heard about the Australian research group aboard the Russian ship MK Akademik Shokalskiy? These are the people who went off to Antarctica trying to demonstrate the effects of global warming by replicating an exploration that was undertaken a century ago. The idea was to assess ice, ocean and ecological conditions at the same locations as the previous party. The expectation was that current ice measurements would be much lower than those taken by Australian Douglas Mawson on his expedition from 1911-1913.

So, did they get the results that they were expecting?

Not quite. They actually were not able to get any readings. You see, as they were in route to Antarctica, they ran into problems. There was a blizzard on Christmas Eve that caused their boat to be iced in. Where they were expecting to go floating merrily along, they were now set firmly in the middle of a skating rink. So, since Christmas Eve, there have been several attempts to rescue the scientists, crew, and tourists that had been trapped.

Wait...what? Did you read that right?

Tourists? On a scientific expedition? Really?

Of course. Don't all scientific expeditions bring tourists along to ensure adequate funding for the project?

In case you didn't notice, that last little bit was in courier font, which is henceforth to be known as the official Sulphur and Cordite sarcasm font.

Does that not tell you pretty much everything you need to know about this expedition? The scientists who dreamed up the excursion could not get adequate funding for it, probably because the legitimacy of the project was questionable, so instead of dropping the idea and looking for other projects, they thought, hey, let's see if we can find a bunch of gullible hippies with too much cash and overcharge them for the trip. Evidently, they found some.

So now, they have enough funding for their expedition, but they also have tourists in tow, and tourists, even gullible hippy tourists, expect at least a modicum of comfort when they shell out big bucks for travel. That meant that, instead of finding an ice breaker, which is the preferred mode of transport for most Antarctic expeditions, they got a cruise ship.

On Christmas eve, three days into summer in the Antarctic, is when they got hit by a blizzard, and they got trapped in the ice. At this point, I honestly don't know whether having an ice breaker would have really been helpful, since it seems the ice they were trapped on was pretty extensive. Ice breakers from three other (and better prepared) expeditions were sent in attempts to break their way to the Akademik Shokalskiy, but the closest any of them were able to get was still 12 miles, (19km) away. Still, they would have been much better off if they had brought the proper equipment in the first place.

Bear in mind the ice breakers that were sent on the rescue efforts were not just standing at the ready to respond in this type of situation like the Coast Guard. These were boats that were on resupply missions to other Antarctic expeditions. Now these other expeditions are being put behind schedule, and some members of those expeditions are being prevented from returning home, as a result of an ill-prepared group that set off on an ill-advised project.

Not disclosed if R. J. Macready was among
the rescue mission helicopter pilots.
Finally today, January 2, all the passengers on board the vessel were retrieved by helicopter. They are on an Australian ice-breaker that will return the to Tasmania, while the crew members will be staying with the ship.

I am a extremely skeptical about global warming being anthropogenic, and I do not really believe it is a concern in the future, near term or long term. I find it hilarious that a an expedition that sets off to gather evidence of global warming gets literally frozen out of its intended purpose.

The members of this expedition have not only become laughingstocks for those who have a reasonable skepticism about the whole anthropogenic climate change theory (justice cannot get any more poetic than a bunch of people trying to prove a warmer climate getting stuck in ice,) but also have raised the ire of other members of the global warming cult, just because they are a shining example that things are not quite as warm as they are trying to convince everybody they are.

Just remember, the only thing settled about science is that we do not know as much as we pretend to, and we only truly understand a fraction of what we know.

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