Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach
A number of nations conduct research in Antarctica. To do research in Antarctica, you need to have an icebreaker. As the old saying goes, you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few icebergs … or something like that.
For the last few years, said icebreaker has been the Swedish ship Oden, leased to us by the noble Swedes, who (other than being a bit confused about how to spell the name of the god Odin) built a wonderful dual-purpose icebreaker and research vessel. Here’s a photo of the good ship “Oden”:
Given the dependence of the US McMurdo Sound and Amundsen-Scott South Pole bases on the availability of an icebreaker to allow resupply by ship, it must have been an unpleasant surprise for our Secretary of State, Hillary R. C., to receive the following missive from the aforesaid perfidious Swedes …
The first irony is that the main thing that is brought in by ship, the one thing that really can’t be brought in by plane, is fossil fuel. Can’t do global warming research without fossil fuel, particularly in Antarctica, and running a couple of US bases through an Antarctic winter takes a lot of fossil fuel.
The second irony is that research into global warming is being curtailed by, of all things, too much ice. Or as Mr. Bildt described it, “transport delays due to vessels having been blocked by ice.”
I do feel bad and have compassion for the scientists and the scientific studies that will be disturbed, and I know I’m on the primrose path to perdition for saying this, but it’s hard not to enjoy the spectacle of scientists who can’t do global warming research because the Northern Hemisphere is too cold.
PS—As of a few days ago, the US has lined up an icebreaker, the Ignatyuk, to replace the Oden. It is run by a Russian firm, the Murmansk Shipping Company. So that’s good news. Unfortunately it is not set up as a research vessel, just an icebreaker, but it can break the path for the tankers.
It will steam off from Murmansk half way round the world, burning lots and lots of fossil fuel, to clear the ice to allow the tankers to deliver much more fossil fuel to McMurdo Sound and even send fossil fuel to the South Pole to power inter alia the global warming research …
So there’s the final irony—with the laying up of the US Coast Guard “Polar Star” icebreaker, and the decommissioning of the “Polar Sea” icebreaker, the US has only the lightweight “Healy”, not fit for the Antarctic needs. So the US is reduced to renting an icebreaker from a Russian shipping company … and some folks in Alaska are not happy about that state of affairs.
[UPDATE] From some of the comments below, it’s clear that my eco-felony in writing this is admitting to feeling “schadenfreude”, which means taking pleasure in your opponents misfortunes. It’s one of those emotions that everyone has, but nobody is supposed to admit they have. What, you never laughed when irony overtook your opponent? And you gotta admit, global warming research cancelled because of too much ice? That’s funny anywhere.
I’m no different than the rest in relishing life’s ironic turns, except for the fact that I’m willing to admit that I’m not PC (politically correct) in the slightest, and to take the inevitable heat for saying so. Consider it my small protest at the ongoing vanillafication of the planet.