Iced in by global warming

Folks, this is a true story. We do not make this stuff up. As the late, great comic Steve Allen used to say, “I kid you not.”

An NBC television crew, dispatched to the Arctic to show the horrendous effects of global warming – an ice-free Northwest passage – was stalled in the Arctic Sea for nearly a month at the end of the so-called summer, socked in as the crew attempted to document the effects of warming. The production crew for the Today show was aboard a Canadian Coast Guard vessel, the ice-breaker Amundsen, heading out from Resolute Bay in early September to check out the allegedly ice-free Northwest Passage, when weather happened.

In a post to the MSNBC web site, correspondent Peter Alexander wrote, “Producer Paul Manson and I, along with cameraman Callan Griffiths and soundman Ben Adams, were sent here on assignment to report on climate change and the Arctic for an upcoming broadcast. The primary news peg – and one reason for our visit – is that for only the second time in recorded history the Northwest Passage is ice free, effectively clearing this shortcut between Europe and Asia.”

Oops. The plan, according to Alexander, was to chopper off the Canadian ship after filming the footage the crew needed to make the story. Not so fast. “Freezing rain and harsh weather” kept the helicopter on the ship. “The ship kept going and our chance to get off passed.”

The Today crew spent 23 days locked onto the Canadian ship by ice and foul weather. Alexander whined, “Since we were done shooting two weeks ago, we’ve been left with a lot of time to fill.”

The TV crew apparently filled the time by chowing down on the ship’s food stores. Wrote Alexander, “Meals have become a priority. It’s often the only way we can keep track of what time and day it is. Thursday is a favorite – breakfast crepes.” Yum-oh.

Don’t fear for the health of our ice-stranded TV crew. The ship offers a workout room, fitted with a treadmill, two stationary bikes, and a bench for free weights. Notes Alexander, “Running on a treadmill when the ship is rocking could easily pass at it’s own Olympic sport.” [Having done the same, I second that remark.]

The hilariously sad tale of the trapped Today team produced copious responses on the global warming skeptic blog Watts Up With That, hosted by former television meteorologist Anthony Watts. It is one of the classiest, most intellectually-honest climate skepticism sites on the web. Among the more amusing posts relative to the NBC ice ship:

* Leon Brozyna. “Talk about presumptive arrogance: for only the second time in recorded history the Northwest Passage is ice free. And how many times in the past couple hundred years did it happen and no one noticed or cared? And how will they spin it if the Arctic sea ice expanse starts increasing over the next few years (both minimum and maximum)? Silly question. They’ll just ignore it and move on the next panic attack.

* Bill Ryan. “For only the second time in recorded history the Northwest Passage is ice free? They failed to mention that the last time was 1903.”

* Pompous Git (might this be a pseudonym?). “Let’s see. Amundsen navigated the Northwest Passage in 1906. Henry Larsen did it twice, in 1940 and 1944. The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Storis did it in 1957. Willy do Roos did it in 1977 in a 45-foot yacht. The first cruise ship to do it was MS Explorer in 1984. And so on….Not bad for a passage that’s only been open twice in history!”

The whole affair is further demonstration of the air-headedness of commercial network television and the acolytes of man-made global warming. The brains of the network news operations have been frozen in the Arctic Sea of conventional wisdom for years. They don’t have the least economic or intellectual incentive to check things out, as reality might depress ratings.

It’s sad. There is little solid climate reporting – skepticism rather than accepticism – in much of the main-stream media, including the major print publications, the networks, and the cable channels. It’s only on the web – and in the blogs – where hard-hitting, skeptical reporting on climate issues can be found, done by folks with academic credentials and street cred. Many geeks, few airheads. Count me among the geeks.