The French website Contrepoints (Counterpoints) has an excellent general summary on how the Turney Expedition course of events unfolded in an article titled: Akademik Shokalskiy: the time to ask questions. Turney really does appear to be in a lot of hot water.
Contrepoints introduction starts:
Persuaded to have nothing to worry about from ice in the Antarctic, an expedition of climatologists wound up getting caught in 5 meters of sea ice. The Akademik Shokalskiy passengers are safe and sound, now come to the questions.”
Vessel was low budget, inadequate
Contrepoints starts by questioning the adequacy of the vessel chosen for the expedition, citing the harshness of the environment that would be entered. It is turning out that Commonwealth Bay is indeed notorious for ice blockage and that cruise companies generally avoid the area. The list of sunken shipwrecks littering the ocean floor is growing. Contrepoints presents examples that include the Explorer in 2007 and Brazilian ship Endless Sea in 2012:
Also, it seems the decision to charter a vessel of the type that is the Akademik Shokalskiy can be explained in large part by budgetary reasons, but also by the certainty of the organizers that there would be nothing to worry about from icebergs because of climate warming.”
Far more sea ice “than expected”
Contrepoints then informs its readers that in fact it has gotten colder in the Antarctic over the past years and presents a sea ice chart which shows near record high sea ice extents. This all raises questions on what the expedition organizers were thinking back in November, before starting the jouney, a time when sea ice charts were showing 1 million sq km more ice than normal, Contrepoints reminds us.
Tourism disguised as science
Contrepoints then questions the wisdom of bringing on tourists and family members onto the expedition.
Under these conditions, and based on the synopsis of the expedition, as well as the accounts of a more than festive ambiance on board, one is entitled to wonder about the real scientific character of this adventure.”
“An obvious amateurism…obstinacy and naivety”
When comparing Turney’s expedition to other scientific expeditions, like those of Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute with its Polarstern ice-breaker, the qualitive differences are nothing short of glaring. Contrepoints writes that Turney’s expedition, when you boil it down, was “an obvious amateurism“. The French site writes that the answer to the questionas to why the ship got caught in ice “lies probably not in an error by the captain but in the obstinacy and naivety of expedition leader Chris Turney.”
Knew well in advance a storm was approaching
Contrepoints, citing the blog of onboard tourist and Australian Green politician Janet Rice, describes how passengers bungled about with an Argo craft, causing an hours-long delay in the departure of the boat as a storm rolled in. The storm it turns out, was not something unpredictable, but had actually been forecast already on December 22. Rice writes in the first sentence of her blog on December 22:
There’s a blizzard on the way apparently!”
Even more damning, Contrepoints writes:
While Mawson found the bay completely free of ice 100 years earlier, his successor Chris Turney found himself nose to nose with an immense floe of ice that covered the bay and forced his ship to stop close to 70 km from where Mawson had set foot on land. This was already on 19/20 Decembre according to the entries made by Turney at his blog.”
Fault of amateurism
Contrepoints concludes the description of the debacle with:
Finally, what had to happen happened and the next day on December 24: The ice finally trapped the Akademik Shokalskiy. In short, contrary to what Turney claims, the misadventure experienced by his team is more the fault of amateurism than of having no luck.”
Contrepoints then concludes the piece by describing how the Turney’s botched expedition is now adversely impacting the other scientific operations taking place in Antarctica, as logistics are now seriously in disarray.
After publishing my blog article Expedition on the cheap here some five days ago, one global warming activist reader reacted with a knee-jerk claiming I didn’t know what I was talking about. Today we now see stories appearing every day, confirming precisely what I brought up. Goes to show who really doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
Who approved the expedition in the first place?
There are other important questions, as not all the blame can be put on Turney or the vessel’s captain. This was a huge expedition, and so various authorizations, approvals and permits had to have been necessary. Who signed them? Who was too incompetent to see that it wasn’t up to standard and that Turney was an amateur?