In the Arctic, Some Things Never Change

MH on the Climate Sceptics group has posted a link to the report of a 1922 expedition in the Svalbards reaching 81°29′ North.

It’s another example of what makes the recent kayaking expedition by Lewis Gordon Pugh a load of human waste.

First warming had been noted in 1918, apparently. {sarcasm}All due to that soot from First World War, no doubt{/sarcasm}

Interestingly, the report mentions newly-available resources to mine, and the disappearance of previously-abundant wildlife.

Some things really really never change…

Kayaking at 83N, in 1895

More evidence that the so-called Polar Defense Project has likely been more a publicity stunt than a serious attempt at showing the retreat of Arctic sea ice: contrarily to Lewis Pugh’s claim of having gone “further north than anyone has ever kayaked before“, reports of people paddling northwards of Pugh’s 2008 maximum (80° 31′ 26″ N, or more likely 80° 14′ 56″ N) can be as old as 1895.

That’s the year when famous Norse explorer Fridtjof Nansen reached Franz Josef Land going south, after going nearer to the North Pole than anyone before, travelling with Hjalmar Johansen:

The two men started out on March 14, 1895 with three sleds, two kayaks and a bunch of dogs. They reached 86° 14´ N one month later and then turned back, expecting to find land at 83°N. No such luck though, and that’s when the kayaks came handy for it took open water crossings until July 24, when they finally found [Franz Josef Land]

There are even reports of Nansen swimming to get his kayak back…and that would be another non-first in Lewis Pugh’s career.

And why no mention of Lonnie Dupre and Eric pulling and paddling “modified canoes” all the way to the North Pole in July 2006?

In truth, there are companies offering regular kayaking trips to the North of Pugh’s 2008 “achievement”: for example TraveLearn’s “Arctic Adventures” where tourists are brought to Phipps Island, 80° 42´ N .

For as little as $4,600, Lewis Pugh can better his “achievement” next year.

Polar Kayaker Lewis Pugh Could Have Gone Further…in 1979!

What’s worse than a gimmick?

A trip to the Cryosphere Today’s archive can reveal evidence that Lewis Gordon Pugh’s “achievement” of having “kayaked to within 1,000 km (620 miles) of the North Pole to highlight a rapid shrinking of Arctic ice” has really been no achievement at all.

In fact, had he tried the same in 1979, he may have actually gone a little further.

Sea Ice 2008 09 06
Sea Ice 2008 09 06
Sea Ice 1979 09 05
Sea Ice 1979 09 05

The following is an animated comparison of the sea ice status around the Svalbard. Remember: the one with MORE ice around those islands is the image from 2008, not 1979.

1979 09 05 Svalbard
1979 09 05 Svalbard
2008 09 06 Svalbard
2008 09 06 Svalbard

I chose 1979 because of course it is the first year of complete satellite observations of polar sea ice extension, and by luckly chance the year when the aforementioned extension was the largest ever recorded (by satellite).

There’s more than could be said about the differences between September 1979 and September 2008 (a large part of the sea ice loss appears to concern Northeastern Siberia, i.e. the East Siberian Sea). For now one can only guess why the Polar Defense Project chose to kayak in the Greenland Sea, where the anomaly in September 2008 from the 1979-2000 mean is close to zero (as evident in the animated picture above).

One wonders if Mr Pugh had any intention to reach the North Pole…otherwise, the judgement of whoever helped him plan his trip, must be seriously questioned. There was and still there is simply no indication whatsoever that a Svalbard-North Pole passage will open this decade or next.

Polar Kayaking Gimmick a Hope for the Future

I am starting to think it’s great news when gimmicks like the kayaking attempt to the North Pole are organized and publicized…being so pointless and empty, their chances of actually do any harm to the real world is close to zero.

Don’t they realize, can’t they realize, that setting up flags on an ice floe is no more “polar defense” than flying Tibetan flag is “actually helping the Dalai Lama and his people”?

Whoever does “raise awareness”, they surely feel much better afterwards. In their utter futility, they dream of the “symbolism”, don’t they.

Still, Tibet remains in its troubles, just like the the North Pole will. Whatever those troubles truly are.

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Let’s see what they claim on their website, having decided to turn back in front of an impassable “wall of ice” around 81N:

  1. Lewis Gordon Pugh is so proud” of “the team because they achieved the incredible feat of spending the whole day erecting 192 flags
  2. They went “further north than anyone has ever kayaked before” (next year I’ll rent a nuclear submarine and bring a surfing board to the North Pole)
  3. The way the team has pulled together (and this despite the individual team members not knowing each other at all prior to the trip)” (who is he kidding? hundreds of expeditions do that every year, and nobody has ever thought it could be an achievement more than being capable of eating one’s food is)
  4. Press coverage (well, not a lot in this Google search. And not a lot in this other Google search here either)
  5. er..
  6. that’s it

After all, if blog entries are as important as the case of the missing flag, what should one expect? Compare that to the original aim:

Adventurer Lewis Gordon Pugh plans to become the first person to kayak to the North Pole. His journey will show how cracks in the ice have made it possible to travel through what used to be permafrost.

(and they call it permafrost!)

And yes, Lewis Gordon Pugh himself does state in an earlier video that it would be “a failure” not to be able to reach the North Pole at all (link to that video, halfway through this page).

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Should I admire those people for their “incredible efforts“? Not at all.

Had they paddled up by themselves, I surely would have. But all it has turned into was a very expensive way to move people up to 81N with a great boat to comfortably live in and no destination whatsoever.

With minimal danger, the Polar Defense Project is no Himalayan mountaineering on the K2. Worse, it pretends to be world-changing.

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The above of course reminds me of the E-day fudge (or fraud).

And so it offers even more hope: if AGWers can’t see their mistakes, they won’t be learning from them.

Moving onwards to next gimmick!