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Another One Bites the Ice
Wednesday, January 8, 2014 • Posted January 9, 2014

This may come as a shock to many of my readers, but I don’t speak Russian. Mark Twain once spent some time in Russia, and wrote home that it was a country full of geniuses, because they could all, even the little children, speak Russian fluently, while he could not, even after paying close attention. That’s how I am.

So I have no idea what the name of the Russian ship, ‘Akademic Shokalskiy,’ means, in English. But I’m going out on a limb here and posit that it probably has something to do with academic scholarship, or some such. Which is somewhat ironic, in itself.

That’s the ship Chris Turney used for his recent Antarctic expedition to, as he said on his personal website, “discover and communicate the environmental changes taking place in the south.” Chris is a ‘professor of climate change’ at the University of New South Wales. He stands firmly in the global warming camp, and he went south to prove the world is getting warmer, and that man is causing it. So there.

Well, as my friend Bill once wrote, the best laid plans of mice and men, etcetera. Chris’s plan wasn’t all that well-laid to begin with, I guess. He loaded up in Akademic Shokalskiy, sailed to Antarctica to see why the ice down there was melting like Blue Bell in August, and promptly got stuck in the ice. Seriously. This happened on Christmas day, the middle of the Antarctic summer.

Well. You could’ve knocked old Chris over with a snowball. What an embarrassment. Setting out to find out why the ice is gone, and getting frozen into the ice that isn't supposed to be there is just, bad luck. Chris’s official statement was, “We’re stuck in our own experiment.” In other words, they got caught with their global warming down.

Three unsuccessful attempts were made to rescue our intrepid heroes before the 52 passengers were finally helicoptered off the boat on 2 January. One ice cutter responding to the call got stuck in the ice, itself. Twenty-two crew members stayed on board the A.S. to await further developments, although I’m vague on what those might be. A mall could be going in down there, but I rather doubt it.

Now, lest you decide this was just a fluke, let me hasten to point out that Chris and his buds are the people who claim they can tell us what the weather will be like ten, twenty, fifty years down the pike. These people could not, with any accuracy at all, predict what the weather would be like five weeks ahead, even when it mattered enough that their mistakes would highlight, to the world, what total phonies they are. That’s sad.

This story, of course, comes on the heels of one I wrote about recently, featuring all the yachts stuck in the ice in the Northwest Passage, which was supposed to be totally ice-free last summer. Over 20 of those yachts are still stuck in the ice up there, awaiting further developments. When will these people learn not to believe their own press?

Actually, I got blasted pretty good by a reader for that column. That happens now and then, in this job. Stepping on toes comes with the territory, although I admit I probably could wear something besides golf shoes to do that. The screaming might be quieter.

This reader berated me for saying no one could get a boat through the Northwest Passage, and other imagined mistakes. In fact, I never said no one could get a boat through there. I just said a bunch of yachts tried and didn’t make it, which is true. You can look it up. Or, if you like, you can go up there and see the actual boats stuck in the actual ice with your actual eyes. I don’t recommend that.

The reader was pretty much livid, though. I put my ear down close to the paper, and I could almost hear the reader’s foot stomping. It sounded like an angry foot.

That’s something I really don’t understand. Facts are facts. There was more ice in the Northwest Passage in August 2013 than there was in August 2012. There’s more ice in Antarctica now than there was last year. There’s no danger that the ocean levels are going to rise and cover Los Angeles with water, although that might not be a bad thing. I’ve been to Los Angeles.

The global warming, I’m sorry, climate change, crowd always gets angry when the facts point out that they’re a few slices short of a brisket plate. Angry. As if I made up the ice in the Northwest Passage myself, and sabotaged the Akademic Shokalskiy’s compass, or something.

Will Rogers used to say he didn’t make jokes, he just watched the government and reported the facts. I’m that way with the global warmers. I can’t control the weather, anyway. If I could, you wouldn’t need weather stripping around your doors.

But I’m just an outdoor humor columnist. What do I know?

By the way, if you’re interested, I do know where you can pick up a Russian ship and a bunch of fancy yachts, cheap . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who wishes, at the moment, the global warmers were right. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or

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