Sailing to Nowhere – The gift of Green Polar Explorers

Pleeeeease, won’t somebody think of the polar bears!

With a feeling of mild amusement it has come to our attention that yet another Green polar trip seeking to raise awareness of Global Warming(tm) has been forced to cut short their taxpayer-funded holiday, due to excessive ice.

This expedition, named Ship of Fools IV by some within the global Sceptical community and the Arctic Mission by those managing their press releases, was attempting to sail several yachts to the north pole without icebreaker support, in the name of getting their noses deeper into the taxpayer-funded feeding trough of research grants.

Unfortunately for their bold ambitions, the yacht captains were forced to conference on the 29th of August and, possibly after using the local WiFi to watch some videos of Shackleton’s Endurance, decided they had actually reached their personal Peak Stupid and that now was a very sensible moment to call the entire thing off.

They had managed to reach 80 degrees 10 minutes North. This does on first glance sound impressive and indeed is being claimed by their publicity department as part of the reason the expedition was still an outstanding success, but remember the end target was the North Pole located geographically at 90 degrees N. Hence in real terms the entire trip was more like declaring one is going to sit down and binge watch an entire Game of Thrones season, only to give up before the first exposed nipple.

Now a prime problem with attempting to claim retrospective success, is that with the magic of the interwebs original objective statements are so easy to re-inspect. Let us look at some of the claims made to the Sunday Times before the expedition had started. This is what polar explorer Pen Hadow then had to say on the matter:

“If we do reach the North Pole by sail, I think the image would be iconic for the rest of the century and a call to action. If 50ft yachts can do this, imagine what commercial shipping can do.”

Pen Hadow – real first name, Rupert – probably has enough prior form to have known better. In 2003 he completed a 770km, 64 day solo walk from Ward Hunt Island in Canada to the geographical pole. This in itself was a rather impressive feat of endurance, possibly also a disturbing reflection on the level of his social skills, and also only made possible at all by the large amount of unbroken ice involved. Maybe he forgot.

Maybe he also forget exactly what he was actually saying during that interview.

“Imagine what commercial shipping can do.”

We, Rupert, since you mention it, would imagine commercial shipping could now sail from ports in Korea, Japan and China to Europe without having to bother with all that inconvenience of going around Africa. Fuel costs would be less. Transport costs would be less. The cost of goods could be passed onto a grateful consumer, and with a reduction in fuel use there would clearly be an associated reduction in all those nasty CO2 emissions everyone seems so worried about.

So… A win for the planet then basically?

Or not?

Green types can be ever so hard to understand.

We’re your XYZ.

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Zeitungsdunkel is an engineering professional who firmly believes in the clear separation between church, state and one’s personal Linked In profile. This writer dislikes being referred to as a hypocrite, preferring the term ‘shallow’ and being South Australian openly considers the rest of Australia to be filled with Convict Scum. Despite the pen name, Zeitungsdunkel cannot actually speak German, but once sat next to a phrase book that could.