A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing


So.  The so-called “Ship of Fools” is firmly stuck in the Antarctic ice. But, charmingly, the advertisment to join the trip called “The Spirit of Mawson” is still up on the internet.  It says:

Join The Trip

For the opportunity of a lifetime, you can book a berth and join us on the amazing Shokalskiy, a true expedition vessel.

Join us on the expedition

We’re offering members of the public an incredible opportunity to join us on the trip. See the wonders of the Southern Ocean, the subantarctics and Antarctica…

There are single, twin and double berths are available. Prices start from $8,050.

douglas_mawsonNow, Sir Douglas Mawson himself was a Yorkshireman, who explored the Antarctic 100 years ago. With his wooden ship, the Aurora, he anchored just a few yards from the continent’s shoreline. It seems that he was an admirable chap. Not only did he do useful scientific work in the Antarctic, but generally went around exploring all sorts of places. He was, in a Boy’s Own sort of a way, a genuine hero, and on any test a very brave man as well as a distinguished academic.

It seems that the aim of this latest expedition was chiefly to piggyback off Mawson’s reputation in order to promote the cause of global warming.  The “Science Case” page has this:

the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, the largest of three ice sheets … contains enough freshwater to raise the world’s sea level by some 52 metres. Until recently it was thought this ice sheet was stable, sitting on the continental crust above today’s sea level. However there is an increasing body of evidence, including by the AAE members, that have identified parts of the East Antarctic which are highly susceptible to melting and collapse from ocean warming.

The leader is Chris Turney, Professor of Climate Change at the University of New South Wales. But he also has commercial intertests.  According to the site:Chris-Turney_sm

To do something positive about climate change, he helped set up a carbon refining company called Carbonscape which has developed technology to fix carbon from the atmosphere and make a host of green bi-products, helping reduce greenhouse gas levels.

The University of New South Wales website has this:

“It’s going to be a cracking adventure and a scientific first in terms of the data we get,” predicts Professor Chris Turney. One hundred years after Sir Douglas Mawson led his famous Australasian Antarctic Expedition, Turney will celebrate that achievement with a modern-day voyage in the footsteps of the great Australian scientist and explorer.

And all of this would be great.  A fantastic centennial opportunity to show the world that the Antarctic is rapidly being denuded of ice, which is just about to melt and flood us all.  And no bad thing for Carbonscape’s commercial interests either! Except that it is all based on utter poppycock.

For a start, the world has not been warming for really quite a few years now. The predictions of the effect of C02 have proved to be wrong.  It really does no matter which data set you take: it stopped warming a while ago, notwithstanding the accerating amount of C02 being released into the atmosphere. See for example


Yes, people. The temperature graph has been flat this century. And in particular, despite the exception of the Western  Shelf, Antarctica has been getting colder, and laden with even more ice than usuakademik-shokalskiyal. Which explains why the Shokalskiy has got stuck in ice some 60 km off the coast.  The ice, instead of being “highly susceptible of melting” turned out to be highly susceptible of trapping the ship, even many miles from shore.  Yes, people, the thing is that there is a lot more ice around now that there was 100 years ago. If you are convinced that we are experiencing an unprecedented rise in global temperatures and melting of the ice, you are going to become unstuck.  Or, to be more exact, stuck, if you are dumb enough to try to sail into what were open waters 100 years ago, but are now ice fields, even in the summer.

This is not entirely to blame the Russian Captain, who seems to have more sense than the party of woolly hats on board, including a pile of journalists (now all looking decidedly silly) and Australian green politician, Janet Rice, who seem to have been faffing around on shore expecting some more warming.  Ms Rice wrote:

The third drama of the day is the one which is still unfolding. Because of the Argo mishap we got off late, and had one less vehicle to ferry people to and fro. I’m told the Captain was becoming rather definite late in the afternoon that we needed to get everyone back on board ASAP because of the coming weather and the ice closing in. As I write we are continuing to make extremely slow progress through what looks like a winter alpine snow field – it’s yet another surreal part of this journey that we are in a ship trying to barge our way through here! I’m sure the Captain would have been much happier if we had got away a few hours earlier. Maybe we would have made it through the worst before it consolidated as much as it has with the very cold south- easterly winds blowing the ice away from the coast, around and behind us as well as ahead.

Personally, I find it  hard not to be be attracted by the idea that the whole party should have been left on board until next summer, so as to get a more accurate impression of the global warming on their agenda.  But they have been rescued at huge expense. Which comes on top of the huge bill, funded in part by public money via the University of New South Wales, for the original trip.

The Russian crew have been left on the ship to winter it out.  I wonder if they will pass the time by weaving their own knickers and beating themselves over the back with responsibly-grown hessian knouts for their role in global warming.  Probably not, since the Russians, by and large, think that the global warming thing is a load of bullshit, and that, in unlikely event of it happening, it would be a jolly good thing. Perhaps they will just sit there surrounded by the ice, shooting penguins and marveling about just how gullible the Western world can be.

1 Comment

Filed under Climate

One response to “A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing

  1. The ship escaped the ice a few days ago. If I felt the need for supernatural explanations, which I do not, I might suspect that the God of Last Laughs might have thought to herself, “Well, there is no more fun to be had out of this one!”

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