Future historians may point to this one ironic event as the trigger that finally ended the public fear of global warming. The Australasian Antarctic Expedition was stuck fast over Christmas and New Year in Antarctic sea ice. In summer. The ice beat back three ice-breakers.
How can this be? Isn't global warming melting the ice and flooding the coast?
Al Gore certainly says so. Last summer he checked out Antarctica to report: "The ice on land is melting at a faster rate and large ice sheets are moving towards the ocean more rapidly. As a result, sea levels are rising worldwide."
And yet here were climate scientists imperilled in sea ice.
On the MV Akademik Shokalskiy were 22 scientists, 26 tourists, 22 Russian crew and four UK journalists. Expedition leader Chris Turney is a professor of climate change.
The Turney Expedition was to retrace Sir Douglas Mawson's expedition of a century ago. The purpose was to compare the conditions that Mawson reported with conditions now. The big and obvious difference is that Mawson in a wooden ship sailed to shore; Turney and his crew were stuck 60km away.
The expedition communicated climate science brilliantly: climate scientists stuck in ice. So much for global warming.
The nuttiness is readily apparent. The expedition issued a statement that, "Sea ice is disappearing due to climate change, but here ice is building up." Bad luck, really. The climate scientists were in the one bit of Antarctica where there's ice.
The nuttiness is that only last year the high priests of global warming admitted that their computer models were wrong: Antarctic sea ice is increasing, not decreasing. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fifth Assessment declared: "Most models simulate a decrease in Antarctic sea ice extent over the past few decades compared to the small but significant increase observed" (s. 22.214.171.124).
The expedition relied on computer models, not real world reports. "That can't be sea ice, the computer says so!" And please, keep worrying: our being stuck proves global warming!
The expedition's story now is that global warming melted a big iceberg creating the ice that trapped them. That's the climate alarmists' nuttiness in a nutshell: nothing proves them wrong; everything proves them right.
In fact, Antarctic sea ice is more than two standard deviations above normal. The world is not warming. It hasn't warmed since 1997.
The Russian crew remain on board. The passengers have been evacuated by helicopter to the ice-breaker Aurora Australis. It's been a very expensive rescue.
But there's a bright side: the expedition was planting 800 kauri trees in Northland to cover their carbon footprint. By my calculations, with the ice-breakers and helicopters, that number could now be into the thousands.
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