The Ship of Fools was a popular medieval allegory depicting “a vessel populated by human inhabitants who are deranged, frivolous, or oblivious; passengers aboard a ship without a pilot, and seemingly ignorant of their own direction.”
The allegory could not be a more apt description of the band of sorry deluded sad sacks who have entertained our southern hemisphere summer by sitting trapped in Antarctic pack ice while all their climate science tells them it’s fine and sunny outside. (And while all half the northern hemisphere is buried under several feet of global warming, and with the prospect of the 2010s becoming the “snowiest decade” for the American Atlantic seaboard.)
Today’s sad sacks are a ragtag collection of climate scientists led by Prof Chris Turney, a climate scientist at the University of New South Wales, on an expedition repeating the 1912 journey of great Antarctic explorer Douglas Mawson. Convinced their science is telling them the world is in the grip of catastrophic global warming, and oblivious to a real world telling them otherwise, Turney and co headed south to Antarctic waters “to repeat [Mawson’s] measurements and see how much has changed over the last century” – only to discover reality has had the last laugh. And the joke is on them and their science.
Here was Douglas Mawson mooring in Commonwealth Bay 100 years ago:
And here is Turney and co in the same place just over a week ago:
Here’s how it’s changed, boys. There is more ice.
So, Round One to reality you might think.
Except, oblivious to the pack-ice of reality all around him, Turney has doubled down on his delusion, staring at his figures in the midst of being rescued by helicopter and a growing chain of fossil-fuel powered icebreakers (which themselves became trapped in
all the global warming the fearsome pack ice while rescuing first Turney, and then each other) and yelling to anyone who will listen:
As, still, is the denial.
And the moral of the Antarctic ship of fools? First: Never treat a scientific debate as if it is closed.
Second: The symbolism could not be greater…
Watching true denial has rarely been as entertaining.
Here’s Karl Wallinger and his World Party: