Richard North, 02/01/2014  

000a BBC-002 Shokalshiy.jpg

With the BBC's Andrew Luck-Baker describing his rescue from the ice-trapped Akademik Shokalskiy on a Chinese helicopter as "exhilarating", we appear to be dealing with people who are actually too stupid to realise quite what danger they were in.

And despite being trapped in their cruise boat, the "scientists" had continued their experiments, measuring temperature and salinity through cracks in the surrounding ice. One of the aims, we are told, "was to track how quickly the Antarctic's sea ice was disappearing".

Had they been up to speed, of course, they could have read in October at the start of the summer, that they were in for a rough season.

Tony Foy, on board the icebreaker Aurora Australis, then preparing for the first Antarctic voyage of the season, told a local radio station that the weather forecast was not good for the start of the journey and there was a lot of ice to get through.

"We're expecting thick sea ice on the way", he said. "Microwave data we got last week shows the ice concentration this year is as high as it's been since we started taking readings back in the late 70s. I think we can expect it to be pretty slow when we hit the ice edge".

And that, of course, was in an icebreaker – not a Russian ex-research boat, converted for adventure tourism, which is what this jolly was really all about. No sane person could think about setting off in cruise boat to track "disappearing ice", when all the evidence is that it is increasing.

In a more sensible world, these Muppets would have to pay for their rescues out of their own pockets, but then it is a feature of the modern world that the people who should, so very rarely pay for the consequences of their own folly.


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