First, Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen trekked off across the Arctic in the winter of 2007 “to raise awareness about global warming” by showcasing the wide expanses of open water they were certain they’d encounter. Instead, nighttime temperatures inside their tent hit minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit, while outside it was minus 103 degrees.
Open water is rare at those temperatures, the intrepid explorers discovered. Facing frostbite, amputated toes and even death, the two were airlifted out barely 18 miles into their 530-mile expedition.
The next winter, swimmer-ecologist Lewis Gordon Pugh planned to breaststroke across open Arctic seas. Same story. In 2009, Pen Hadow gave it a go; another no-go.
This year, Tom Smitheringale sought to demonstrate “the effect that global warming is having on the polar ice caps.” He confessed to coming “very close to the grave” before being flown out.
Hopefully, the rescue helicopters were solar-powered. Even hardened climate-disaster deniers wouldn’t want these brave (if misguided) adventurers to use choppers fueled by “climate-changing” hydrocarbons.
Nonetheless, it’s easy to envision them dreaming about stoking up the boiler from the wreck of the Alice May over yonder on Lake Lebarge and chattering in their sleep: “Since I left Plumtree down in Tennessee, it’s the first time I’ve been warm.”
The explorers tried to put the best spin on their failures. “One of the things we see with global warming is unpredictability,” the Bancroft-Arnesen expedition’s coordinator said helpfully. “But please know global warming is real, and with it can come extreme unpredictable changes in temperature,” Ms. Arnesen added.
“Global warming can mean colder. It can mean wetter. It can mean drier. That’s what we’re talking about,” Greenpeace activist Stephen Guilbeault chimed in.
Who was it that defined insanity as hitting your thumb repeatedly with a hammer, expecting it won’t hurt the next time? Or expecting the polar ice cap definitely will melt by “next year”?
Actually, the Arctic ice has been rebounding since its latest low ebb around September 2007. And despite steadily rising atmospheric carbon-dioxide levels - from 0.0285 percent, or 285 parts per million, in 1870 to 0.0388 percent, or 388 ppm today - average global temperatures have been stable or declining since 1995.
Even United Kingdom Climate Research Unit chief Phil Jones acknowledged that to the BBC, and alarmist colleague Kevin Trenberth admitted, “We can’t account for the lack of warming, and it’s a travesty that we can’t.”
Instead of sleds and snowshoes, the explorers should have rented Doc Brown’s “Back to the Future” time machine. They would have found plenty of the global warming and open waters they so desperately seek.
Vikings built homes, grew crops and raised cattle in Greenland from 950 to 1300, before they were frozen out by the Little Ice Age and encroaching pack ice and ice sheets.
Subsequent warm periods were marked by open seas and minimal southward extent of Arctic sea ice, as noted in ships’ logs and discussed in scientific papers. Warm periods of 1690-1710, 1750-1780 and 1918-1940, for instance, were preceded and followed by colder temperatures and maximum southward ice packs, as during 1630-1660 and 1790-1830.
“Not only in the summer, but in the winter the ocean [in the Bering Sea region] was free of ice, sometimes with a wide strip of water up to at least 200 miles from the shore,” Swedish explorer Oscar Nordkvist reported in 1822.