Friday, January 3, 2014

Antarctic Warming Scientists Risked Lives of Paying Tourists on Chartered Russian Vessel That Couldn't Break Ice

You know, because leftist are truly thoughtful and caring people.

It turns out that the Australasian Antarctic Expedition leaders chartered a Finnish-built research vessel that couldn't break ice. They did it with full knowledge that the Antarctic is the most inhospitable destination on earth. Worse, expedition leaders sold tourist spots for the mission as if these were summer holidays, charging $8,000 per head to defray the costs of a mission they could not afford. In other words, to cut costs the AAE crew risked the lives of dozens of civilians on a research excursion of dubious scientific value. This is so morally indefensible it's almost astonishing, but then again, these are leftists we're talking about, so there you go.

Andrew Bolt has the story, "Something’s cracking, and it’s not the ice around the warmists’ ship":

Climate Change Antarctica photo Bc1d2n0CMAAu7iN_zps37c4c9d1.jpg
Pierre Gosselin wonders whether this expedition was doomed by wishful thinking and cost-cutting:
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.

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 defer 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?
Read it all at the link (via Instapundit).