Damning French Analysis Of Turney’s Expedition: Debacle Was Caused More By “An Obvious Amateurism”

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?


10 responses to “Damning French Analysis Of Turney’s Expedition: Debacle Was Caused More By “An Obvious Amateurism””

  1. mwhite

    ” was a huge expedition, and so various authorizations, approvals and permits had to have been necessary. Who signed them?”

    Presumably the Australian Government. As these expeditions are planned several years in advance I would say like minded people in the government of the day.

  2. Mick J

    If not already obviously apparent, Turney is apparently a graduate of the University of East Anglia.

    Don’t think that this report has been mentioned hereabouts.


    Fellow scientists in the real study of the Antarctic are not impressed either.


  3. Jimbo

    Did Turney take along his wife and kids?

    …….Team selection a life and death decision
    Australian Broadcasting Corporation
    Broadcast: 26/11/2013
    Reporter: Margot O’Neill
    Professor Chris Turney from the University of NSW who is about to lead one of Australia’s largest science expeditions to Antarctica says the explorer Robert Scott could have survived had he chosen his team more wisely.

    CHRIS TURNEY: This is arguably the most important piece of equipment on the whole expedition. Forget the science, I’ll have a revolt, especially amongst the Kiwis. This is a portable espresso making machine.

    MARGOT O’NEILL: Chris Turney’s wife Annette and two children Kara and Robert are also going with him to help blog, Tweet and broadcast about the experience for schools around the world.

    ROBERT TURNEY: Dad, on the blog, basically, it’s just: day after day, more ocean.

    CHRIS TURNEY: (laughs) Don’t be dreadful! No one wants to read that!

  4. MemoryVault

    Love your blog, Pierre. I stop by every day to catch up on what is really happening in Europe as our Australian media think the world stops at the equator.

    Just one thing: could you please stop referring to the Turney Antarctic jaunt as an “expedition”? About the only time the word “expedition” had any relevancy was on the Grant Application. Outside of that, the whole thing was a media propaganda exercise. You can find a full summary here:


    In your latest article you refer to an enquiry that will be little more than a whitewash. Unfortunately even that will not be needed. Judging from the Australain government’s response to date, nothing actually happened, so there is nothing to enquire about.

  5. Gore

    It’s not too late to donate to Admiral Turney’s expedition:


  6. robins111

    I’d be interested in finding out when the exact moment where the story changed from ‘Global Warming’ to ‘Climate Change.. I propose we call this a Turney point..

  7. derfel cadarn

    “Obvious amatuerism” are the primary traits of the species warmus ignoramius

  8. Sam Pyeatte

    It is a perfect example of AGW being driven by a far-left political agenda instead of science. Decisions are made on feel-good emotion and perceived media image.

  9. Eric

    I guess if they had to plan the expedition years in advance, they would have planned it based on their computer models predictions on the extent of the predicted thaw. This just compounded the potential for a balls up. Most of the warmists are still in computer model mantra mode, no I won’t look out the window I know how much snow and ice there is, I have the computer predictions right here.

  10. Mervyn

    I fully agree with this article. Well expressed.

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