Seems to Me . . .


Isn’t it ironic?

By Stan Welch

As a writer there are few things I appreciate more than irony. It is an essential way of viewing the world, and of expressing one’s view of the world. It often helps one to maintain a sense of humor; for that is basically what a sense of irony is.

So my appreciation of irony is long lived and familiar. I have savored it many times, both personally and professionally. But seldom has it been as delicious as it has been the last few days. I have grinned evilly chortled loudly, chuckled repeatedly and tried not to shoot coffee out of my nose as ship after ship has been sent to the rescue of a research ship caught in the allegedly shrinking polar ice cap.

The original ship, as you must surely know by now, was one of those hybrid eco-tourism/research vessels where tree huggers and environmentalists can mingle with eco-nerds and faux scientists, affectionately known as Gore-ons, while experiencing the environment up close and personal.

This particular mission was to study global warming and its effect on the (wipes coffee from mustache) dwindling ice cap. The ice cap has apparently dwindled to the point where it was about twice as thick as last year, and trapped the ship like a fossil in a chunk of resin. At least two, and perhaps as many as three, icebreakers were dispatched. Sorry, but it’s difficult to follow the television reports when you’re in tears from laughing.

Each ship became trapped in turn, a regular Keystone Kops on the bounding main. The research ship was Russian, while a Russian and a Chinese icebreaker were both dispatched. Finally a helicopter from the Chinese ship was used to ferry the fifty two civilians to a ship not trapped in ice, so they could go home.

Apparently, they had experienced enough of the environment for awhile, especially at about -40 degrees Centigrade. They are probably happily back on shore, expanding their individual and collective carbon footprints by running every blamed heater they can light or plug in.

Now, the USCG icebreaker Polar Star is on the way to free the ships and rescue more than 100 crewmen still aboard the various boats. It’s turning into quite the global expedition. I have no doubt the stout lads of the Coast Guard will bring them safely to open water once more. In a final touch of irony, let me just point out that, at the bottom of the Southern Hemisphere, where Antarctica lies, it is summer time. Good thing they didn’t go in winter.

The mission was designed to retrace the steps of the explorer Mawson a hundred years ago. I don’t know if he got stuck in the ice or not.

This spring (as observed in the northern hemisphere) will mark the 44th anniversary of Earth Day, that day that all the hippies and the grad students and the environmentalists and the Cub Scouts in America decided that we needed to treat Mother Earth more gently. I agreed with them then, and I agree with them now.

But what began as a well intentioned effort to preserve nature and ecology has become a regulatory nightmare and a pseudoscientific freak show. We pass laws and policies based on modern measurement of ancient processes and cycles.

We have little evidence, much less proof, of whether true irreversible, non cyclical climate change is underway; yet certain powers are prepared to alter national economies and ways of life based on a few decades worth of data.

In a field where moderation should clearly be the course of action while research continues, instead we find polarization between those who see evil in every use of a natural resource and those who can’t even concede that environmental change is inevitable, as the planet’s population and rate of consumption grows by leaps and bounds.

By the way, the temperature in Williamston as I write this is eleven degrees.

What sweet irony.