Egos on ice

If you have been following the story of the Akademik Shokalskiy, you’ll know it’s a global warming boat stuck in an Antarctic ice pack. What piqued my curiosity was that the expedition is called ‘Australasian’. Now, I don’t mind when Aussies make absolute fools of themselves, but when Kiwis are involved in the foolishness, I get brassed off. More so when the stupidity is funded by my taxes.

Professor Chris Turney

This fiasco can be called the Australasian Antarctic Expedition because the Australian team includes three scientists from NZ’s Landcare Research; a professor of marine geology and a research fellow from the Victoria University of Wellington; and a professor from Waikato University. I commend them for their desire to prove that Godzone is doomed due to a trace atmospheric gas and therefore feel compelled to increase said trace gas by burning thousands of gallons of diesel on a junket to the Southern Land of Ever-Expanding Ice. But I ridicule them for failing to check the en-route ice expansion and consequently getting firmly stuck in it. Couldn’t those PhD students and researchers run some of their sacred climate models to predict this?

The mainstream media has used the Orwellian memory hole to remove the global warming focus of the expedition since it became stuck in the sea ice — which was supposedly melting. So the MSM has not picked up on the myriad ironies in this debacle. They miss an opportunity to illuminate the irony of the intrepid saviours of the planet having to be rescued by China, which is the largest emitter of CO2 on the planet. A well-directed opinion piece in The Australian made pointed criticisms of these numbskulls.

Egg on face

Will Chris Turney face facts and admit that Antarctica has been cooling since satellite records began? Or that ice extent down there is at an all-time, record-breaking high? I doubt that the enormous ego of the man would allow it. After all, according to his website, he is “Professor of Climate Change at the University of University [sic] of New South Wales.” Being a professor of a University of a University is pretty damn big.

The expedition website states: “The Australasian Antarctic Expedition – the AAE – will truly meld science and adventure, repeating century old measurements to discover and communicate the changes taking place in this remote and pristine environment.”

Well, now that the expedition is over, with the 52 junketees heading home on a slow boat (not to China), I hope this slap in the face by the natural world will knock some sense into these leaders of our universities and CRIs. As they chug along in their rescue ship staring at the endless expanse of mid-summer sea ice, I hope they will start to be sceptical of the hype about tipping points and ask some scientific questions. They might start by questioning CO2 sensitivity. Then feedbacks. Then models (hey, where there’s life, there’s hope!).

Other questions they must answer include: who pays the rescue costs; who was responsible for the shore party’s tardy return to the ship, delaying it until it could not leave; why has the sea ice extended much further than 100 years ago when Mawson’s expedition sailed the same route; who cleans up if the ship sinks; will Turney ever get backing for another touristy-sciency cruise?

The survivors will have plenty of time to contemplate these questions – they don’t get back to Hobart until mid-January. Meanwhile, let us hope that the 22 crew remaining aboard the stuck ship find their way to the open sea before too long.

P.S. It seems the saga is not over yet, with the Chinese ship which provided the helicopter to get the passengers to the Aurora now hampered by thick ice. The Aurora has been asked by the rescue coordinator to hold its position in open water in case the Snow Dragon needs help – reported by TVNZ.

122 Thoughts on “Egos on ice

  1. Richard C (NZ) on January 23, 2014 at 3:26 pm said:

    ‘Plan to curb Antarctic expeditions after costly rescue of trapped ship’

    Andrew Darby, SMH, January 23, 2014

    The Australian government is pushing to rein in private operators in the Antarctic after the multimillion-dollar rescue of a University of NSW expedition that became caught in pack ice.

    A new law adopted by Australia, but yet to come into force through the Antarctic Treaty, requires all such expeditions to be fully insured for search and rescue, and have their own emergency plans.

    Read more:

  2. Richard C (NZ) on January 24, 2014 at 5:52 pm said:

    ‘We’re seeking $2.4m costs for Antarctic rescue: Greg Hunt’

    Andrew Darby, SMH, January 23, 2014 – 4:04PM


    “We will be seeking full cost recovery through insurance for the up to $2.4 million costs incurred by the Australian government,” [Environment Minister] Mr Hunt said.

    He said the government willingly protected life at sea and believed in Antarctic co-operation.

    “However, what we see here is that there are some questions as to whether or not the ship was detained by the action of those on board within an area that the captain had identified as being potentially subject to being frozen in.”

    Read more:

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