Voyage Of The Damned Fools

The BBC reports today that a US ice-breaker, the Polar Star, has now been called in to rescue not only the trapped Akademik Shokalskiy, but also the Chinese rescue ship, the  Xue Long, which transferred those passengers from one to the other, and is now itself trapped. In other words, the ship which rescued the passengers from the trapped ship by flying them in a helicopter to another ship, which nearly got trapped, is trapped. There’s a Monty Python sketch in there somewhere.

The reality is that two ships, along with their crew (22 on the Russian ship, and 111 on the Chinese vessel), have gotten trapped in the ice due – allegedly – to the negligence of Prof. Chris Turney, who was out there to prove that the ice was, er, melting. I say “allegedly” because it’s pretty obvious that there will be legal repercussions from all this, and I’ll let all our lurking lawyers and journalists and non-lurking journalists go threaten Anthony Watts and others for prejudicing court proceedings instead of wasting our time. This post is about the BBC’s coverage (and cover-up in process) of the whole fiasco.

Yes, I know the ice melting was only one part of the official research reasons for the trip, which included studies of various wildlife and marine habitats. But the focus was on how Climate Change – which they all believe is caused by human activity – is affecting those things, just like the supposedly melting ice. Curiously, as some here have noticed, that purpose came and went throughout the BBC’s coverage of the story.

The Aurora Australis has finally been told it can head home with its new passengers, and will eventually be allowed to go back and finish what it was supposed to be doing: resupplying Australia’s research base, Casey Station. Hopefully nobody else in the area will need rescuing by an icebreaker, because the Xue Long won’t be able to help. The US Coast Guard icebreaker is similarly abandoning its own proper mission, as even the BBC reports, to resupply the US research station on Ross Island. 133 people are stuck, and who knows how many more actual scientists and their research have been severely inconvenienced by this tourist trip. Or was it a research trip? We’ll see.

The BBC is currently describing the Akademik Shokalskiy as a “Russian research vessel”. If and when it gets freed eventually (there’s still the possibility that the ice will crush the hull), its next scheduled task is to take a group of tourists around the Antarctic Peninsula. See, it originally was an actual research vessel, so the BBC is being “accurate” as usual. Only it’s retired from that and has been refitted as a tourist ship. The Expeditions Online website lists it as an “Expedition Ship”, and the amenities look appealing.

The Akademik Shokalskiy is a fully ice-strengthened expedition vessel built in 1984 for polar and oceanographic research. This class of vessel is world renowned for polar exploration, because of its strength, maneuverability and small passenger numbers. The Shokalskiy provides comfortable accommodation in double and twin cabins with private facilities. All cabins have outside windows and ample storage space. On board there is a combined bar/library lounge area and a dedicated lecture room, where the science team and expedition staff will present a programme of talks.

Check out the website and you’ll see its “NOTICE TO REPORTERS” that they’re not the operators of the ship and are merely a booking agent. They know there will be legal ramifications and want to make sure nobody includes them as a defendant in any lawsuit.

Before we get to the inevitable legal repercussions, let’s examine just how cavalier with the truth the BBC has been during this whole saga. Aside from who is at fault here, there’s the question of the overall purpose of this little adventure. The official reason we’ve been fed by the BBC is that it was to retrace the footsteps of Douglas Mawson’s original tremendous scientific expedition to the region. We’re meant to ignore Turney’s own “Science Case” for the trip is all about the melting ice, and how Climate Change (and we all know there’s only one kind and one cause for these people) affects the wildlife and ocean habitats. All the other stuff is a sideshow, an aegis under which to do this.

Turney has written a book about Mawson (a free signed copy goes to anyone who sends him $400. A measly $200 will only get you the t-shirt. Hopefully all “expedition members” who paid $8000 minimum will at least get one of those for their trouble.). Mawson, of course, deserves all the respect in the world for his achievements. His truly scientific exploration essentially opened the world’s mind up to Antarctica. There’s certainly nothing wrong with wanting to retrace his steps and sort of duplicate his tests in celebration of the 100th anniversary of his pretty amazing expedition. When one considers that he barely survived the ordeal but through his own strength and initiative lived to tell about it, and compares his experience to the whining from certain members of today’s expedition, there’s much to discuss about what’s become of us as a species.

Unfortunately, Turney, who has done some proper science and is an experienced expedition leader, he set off expecting to find less ice. In addition to the terrific and often amusing coverage from Anthony Watts, Paul Homewood has been following this silly saga, and he too notices some BBC dishonesty. In this case, he’s calling out both Turney and the BBC:

BBC In Warmist Fantasyland

There have been various attempts to blame the debacle on global warming, but this one really is nonsensical.

According to the expedition report, filed by the Guardian:

“Direct access from the sea has been impossible for the past four years, however, ever since a 75-mile-long iceberg called B09B grounded itself in the entrance to Commonwealth Bay. A thick band of sea ice has since built up around the iceberg, sticking fast to the land and blocking ships from getting to Boat Harbour, where Mawson moored the Aurora in January 1912.”

And Chris Turney, leader of the expedition states that:

“The thick chaotic surface we see around the Shokalskiy is consistent with the idea that this ice is several years old and is considerably more difficult to break through by icebreaker than single year ice.”

NSIDC are quite clear just what sea ice is:

Sea ice is frozen seawater that floats on the ocean surface. Blanketing millions of square kilometers, sea ice forms and melts with the polar seasons, affecting both human activity and biological habitat. In the Arctic, some sea ice persists year after year, whereas almost all Southern Ocean or Antarctic sea ice is “seasonal ice,” meaning it melts away and reforms annually.

A scientist ignored other scientists, because of his own religious beliefs. And the BBC is enabling him to cover it up.

On Dec. 26, BBC journalist Andrew (Bad) Luck-Baker reported on how the science was continuing while they were stuck in the ice. In a moment of honesty, he admitted the Warmist intent of the expedition:

The goal of the modern day Australasian Antarctic Expedition is to repeat many of the original measurements and studies, to see how facets of the environment have changed over the past century. This passage of time coincides with warming and climate change in Antarctica.

Then we get to another level of spin. There’s also the question about who are all those other passengers who were not crew or scientists or PhD students or Guardinistas or Beeboids (or Google marketing mavens or Turney’s own family). Further down there’s this:

In addition to the Russian crew of 22, the expedition team consists of 18 professional scientists from Australia and New Zealand, and 22 volunteer science assistants. They are members of the public, ranging in age from their 20s to their 70s. They paid to join the scientific adventure.

So not eco-tourists, but “volunteer science assistants”.

A report on Jan. 2 stated that one of the goals of the expedition was “to track how quickly the Antarctic’s sea ice was disappearing”. So let’s not have any more denial that this wasn’t a Warmist expedition with a goal of “proving” their theory, rather than a simple historical retracing of Mawson’s journey.

On Dec. 28, it was a “scientific mission ship”. No mention of tourists, although they quoted one of them as a “science volunteer”. Actually, it was the same guy and the same quote (Bad) Luck-Baker included in the previous report. Didn’t he have time to speak to anyone else? Or were they all too busy with the yoga and knot-tying and songwriting?

Two days later, either he or the other BBC contributor (pulling double duty for the Guardian as well, naturally), Alok Jha, filmed “Expedition Member” Terry Gostlow telling the folks back home that they it was all “good fun” and they were hoping to get back home soon. Gostlow is not listed as either a Science Leader or a PhD student on the Spirit of Mawson website, so one assumes he’s another one of those paying volunteers.

On the same day, either (Bad) Luck-Baker, Jha, or a desk-bound editor filed a report when they learned that the Xue Long was on its way with the helicopter.

The Russian-flagged research vessel Akademik Shokalskiy has been stuck in ice for nearly a week. It is carrying 74 scientists, tourists and crew.

Oops. On the same page, there’s an inset extra commentary from (Bad) Luck-Baker, where he refers to “research volunteers”. A different BBC report from the same day also refers to tourists.

On rescue day Jan. 2, though, the BBC reported that “the scientists and tourists were now all aboard the ship Aurora Australis.”

Oops again. So we’ve gone from “science volunteers” to “expedition member” to “research volunteers” to “tourists”, all in the space of a week.

I’m sounding sarcastic about this because the BBC’s inconsistency is rather telling. If they were true paying field assistants, actually involved somehow in helping the scientific work, nobody would dream of calling them tourists. I’m saying the BBC seems uninterested in letting you know much these paying customers were contributing in between attending lectures and praying to Gaia, not because there’s no such thing as science volunteers, paying or otherwise. In fact, I’m well aware that this is a very common thing in a number of scientific disciplines. Many archaeology and palaeontology projects simply wouldn’t be possible without lots of people paying their own way to help sort artifacts, spend hours in the heat painstakingly brushing away dirt, and even make the tea. These things are advertised regularly things in science and history magazines.

The fact that the BBC – an organization known to have the promotion of Warmism as a directive from the top – sometimes refers to the paying customers as tourists tells us that it’s not quite the same thing as people paying their way to help excavate some dinosaur bones or catalog a mind-numbing amount of 5000 year-old ostracons.

The reason I’m looking at these paying passengers is because this appears to be the deciding factor in what happened. Now that people are becoming aware that hell and lots of money will be paid, and the lawyers are sharpening their pencils, blame is being placed on Turney not only for an apparent lack of preparation (it seems that he didn’t make sure they had adequate weather reports), but for indulging his paying eco-tourist customers instead of heeding the ship captain’s warnings and getting out of harm’s way while there was still time, the BBC has rushed in to help with his defense.

Meanwhile Prof Chris Turney, co-leader of the AAE 2013, has defended the scientific value of the expedition and rejected claims it was a “tourist trip” hampered by poor preparation.

Writing in the UK’s Observer newspaper, he said the trip had been struck by bad luck as opposed to human error. He said it was an important scientific expedition and its success would ultimately be measured by peer-reviewed studies.

I’m sure Turney is very eager to reject those claims. Whatever he publishes from this expedition will only be reviewed by peers who already agree with his conclusions, but that’s neither here nor there. The problem for him is that it’s not just people the BBC will claim have a vested interest in damaging the reputation of Warmists saying it was due to human error: one of his own passengers has said it. The Australian Green politician, Janet Rice, said this on her own blog (h/t WUWT):

The third drama of the day is the one which is still unfolding. Because of the Argo mishap we got off late, and had one less vehicle to ferry people to and fro. I’m told the Captain was becoming rather definite late in the afternoon that we needed to get everyone back on board ASAP because of the coming weather and the ice closing in. As I write we are continuing to make extremely slow progress through what looks like a winter alpine snow field – it’s yet another surreal part of this journey that we are in a ship trying to barge our way through here! I’m sure the Captain would have been much happier if we had got away a few hours earlier.

In other words, Turney ignored the advice of his captain – someone who is an experienced  professional and knows the area and its conditions very, very well – in favor of indulging his science volunteers/research volunteers/expedition members/tourists. Read the whole blog and you’ll see that, while at least one actual scientist was taking seal tissue samples, the paying customers were there to commune with the penguins and have nice day out. Turney also wrote at a few days before this that he was surprised to see some ice move in so quickly. A pretty cavalier approach from start to finish is in evidence in other blog posts collected by one of Watt’s readers here.

The Argo to which she refers is one of three amphibious all-terrain research vehicles, which they damaged by towing it back in haste. Who’s going to pay for that? And who do you think paid the way for a Green politician? She sure wasn’t there to help constituents. She’s a Warmist and was there to support the cause.

There were others there not for science but to support the cause. Google did one of their Google Doodle competitions, and awarded two free trips to teachers whose students sent in the winning entries. They were there to do lesson plans and video chats to promote Warmism to children. No lesson plans have been published yet. Google also sent along their Australia/New Zealand branding and marketing manager (listed as part of the Science Team!). For Warmism.

To sum up, we have evidence that the expedition leader had a pre-conceived notion to expect less ice, wasn’t completely prepared for everything, and had a lot of tourists on board to complicate matters and placed an apparently undue burden on the expedition itself. Allegedly, of course. Notice, though, that the BBC has reported precisely none of this. They have, however, reported Turney’s surprise and excuses for the ice trapping them.

The BBC has been misleading about the reasons for the trip, the nature of many of the passengers, and the underlying as well as overt cause of their predicament. All in the name of supporting their Warmist agenda. They assigned two journalists, including World Service senior science editor (Bad) Luck-Baker, to follow the scientists around to tell you how the wildlife and environment was responding to climate change. Period. They say so  right here.

Alok Jha and Andrew Luck-Baker continue to follow the scientists on the ongoing Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013. They go out on fieldwork trips with the researchers studying how the wildlife that lives in this inhospitable environment is responding to climate change.

All the history stuff and retracing of Mawson’s footstep was window dressing for the Warmist agenda. In case there are any lingering doubts, the top listing on the Supporters page of the expedition website is Turney’s own Climate Change Research Center at the University of New South Wales. I imagine not a few Australian citizens are going to question their government’s handing out taxpayer money for this as well.

You know what the BBC isn’t reporting? That the ice is, in fact, not melting the way they claim, and Global Warming isn’t ruining it. It turns out that the models predicting the horror show were not based on proper data, and so overestimated everything. You know that iceberg that Turney blames for trapping them? The one which AGW was supposedly causing to calve? In reality, actual scientists have discovered that it’s been ground away on an underwater ridge. Even what he blames for what he wrongly blames is wrong. BBC Science editor Jonathan Amos wrote about that underwater ridge once, but I think he got away with it. I can’t even find it now.

More recently, just as the whole expedition coverage was kicking off, Amos managed to report that satellite data showed ice loss in West Antarctica, nowhere near Mawson’s Hut, in order to reinforce the dogma that we were all going to be doomed by rising sea levels. He wisely refrained from openly blaming AGW there. He’s done more reports on the new satellite data showing a microscopic rise in sea levels due to a little melting Antarctic ice, but doesn’t remind everyone that it’s not due to AGW, which he ought to be doing at every opportunity so that people don’t get the wrong idea. Of course, that wrong idea is the correct one the BBC wants their audience to have.

The entire thing was expected to give a boost to the whole Warmist agenda, so the BBC eagerly assigned two people to go along, and spent who knows how much of your license fee to do it. Once the whole thing went wrong and everyone started to find out it was half science, half eco-tourism, all with a dedicated agenda, they played around with the truth in order to keep the image of historical reenactment going. I fear that information will not be available via FOI requests, because journalism. In any case, it’s your license fee hard at work.

I suspect Prof. Turney might get thrown under the bus by people who see this foolish voyage as damaging to the cause. Let’s see how the BBC covers it.




It’s been a tricky time for the eco-wacko global warming cultists what with Mother Earth not doing what they demand, but I see that the BBC has managed to find a way to fight back with the exultant headline “Global Warming – “Confirmed”. I see our good friend on Biased BBC Richard Black is behind this advocacy on behalf of the Berkeley Earth Project. Lest you doubt the veracity, read this from Richard, right up there in the third sentence in case you missed it;

The project received funds from sources that back organisations lobbying against action on climate change.

Global Warming – proven. LOL – poor old Richard, desperate to sustain the cult and his BBC masters keen to provide him with a pulpit.

"The winters of our youth are unlikely to return"

It was amusing to see that the most viewed item on the Independent’s website yesterday was the article “Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past” from 2000.

Similar claims have been made by the BBC, of course. In February 2007 the BBC World Service’s One Planet devoted an episode to warmer winters. Here’s the presenter, BBC science correspondent Richard Hollingham, giving us his conclusion :


Richard Hollingham: Those of us who grew up with very cold winters, who tell our children that winter’s not what it used to be, we’re right aren’t we?

Brenda Ekwurzel (Climate Scientist, Union of Concerned Scientists): Yes. Absolutely. It has changed.

Hollingham: Sitting here at the BBC, leafing through my old photos, I can’t help feeling nostalgic for proper winters. This year we had just one day of snow in southern Britain. Mind you it still brought the roads, railways and airports to a standstill and shut the schools, but as most people in London, Moscow, Washington, Beijing or Oslo will testify, a cold crisp winter’s day with snow on the ground is infinitely preferable to the mild damp miserable winters many of us are having to get used to. It seems the winters of our youth are unlikely to return.

And here’s the BBC’s ‘Ethical Man’ Justin Rowlatt writing on the Newsnight blog in January 2007:

Do you remember snow? It’s that cold wet stuff you used to trudge through in the olden days.
I was reminded of the stuff – not by the weather of course – but as I looked through some super-8 footage of my family that my dad shot. It’s been collecting dust at my parent’s house for years. I dug it out because we were looking for images to use in the Ethical Man series.
I built the snowman with my sisters in January 1968. The shots of us sledging are from January 1971. It is beginning to look like my kids will be lucky to ever build a snowman in our garden.

Or how about this on the BBC Weather website from 2004:

There haven’t been to [sic] many cold winters recently in the UK and the number of days with snow cover are becoming fewer too. It’s getting harder and harder to make a snowman in Southern England! Many young children living here are still waiting to see their first white Christmas. If global warming predictions from the Met Office’s Hadley Centre are correct they may never live to see it.

Oh, won’t somebody please think of the children?

Snow – a thing of the past. Just imagine, if the powers that be had believed all this there might be chaos right now.

[Previously – BBC reports the demise of the ski industry.]

Another Twitter Genius

One more from Twitter:

Piotr M. Kaczynski works for the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), a think tank which claims “high standards of academic excellence” through “quality research”. Roughly a third of its funding comes from EU institutions and national governments, and one of its main research areas is climate change (it gave a number of presentations at Copenhagen).

And one of its leading “thinkers” believes that the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile were caused by climate change.

But remember, it’s the sceptics who need educating.

Update. Piotr responds in the comments – unconvincingly but (and please note) very politely.

Book of Revelation

BBC environment correspondent David Shukman has a book out in April: “Reporting Live From the End of the World“. A suitably alarmist double meaning in the title there, but I guess it’s more catchy than “Reporting Live From a Temporarily Low Reservoir (Rain Sure To Follow)”.

In his tips to schoolchildren on how best to report on the environment Shukman offers this advice: “If it’s about rubbish, get yourself right in the middle of it.” Like this:

At least he knows exactly what will happen to all the unsold copies of his book.

James Cove Update

On Monday I blogged about some of the ‘global warming is going to kill the ski industry’ stories produced by the BBC over recent years. Many of those news items came from the BBC’s long-time ‘man in the Alps’ James Cove who, I pointed out, had just started his own online ski news venture. For some reason I was in an uncharacteristically generous mood because I offered Cove my best wishes for his new PlanetSki website.

I’m feeling less generous today.

Cove spent a decade producing global warming scare stories for the BBC, but in December on his PlanetSki blog he said, “the snow level has been pretty similar on average throughout the last decade” and quoted a 73-year-old mountain guide who said, “Overall things really haven’t changed that much.” That’s not the impression Cove was creating with his articles for the BBC. He knew what his editors wanted and gave it to them. It’s what hacks do.

Now I see that Cove’s PlanetSki website is facing accusations of plagiarism. A writer for another ski website, PisteHors, has noted the similarity between an article of his about Corsica and one written by Cove in August 2009 for PlanetSki (the Internet Archive shows that the PisteHors article first appeared in June 2006 and was last updated in April 2008). Cove even embellished his version with invented quotations:

The snow is usually very good above 1800 meters and can be found down to 1400 meters depending on the conditions. Skiing is possible from December through to April but you can only rely on snow after mid-January. There are currently three downhill ski areas on the island and always talk of projects of creating a real ski resort in the style of the Southern Alps.

James Cove:
The snow is usually very good above 1800 meters and can be found down to 1400 meters depending on the conditions.
“Skiing is possible from December through to April but you can only rely on snow after mid-January,” says a spokeswoman from the island’s tourist office.
“There are currently three downhill ski areas on the island and always talk of projects of creating a real ski resort in the style of the Southern Alps.”

In 1934 the worst avalanche of this century occurred on the slopes of Castagniccia at only 700 meters altitude, sweeping through the village of Ortiporio and killing 37 people.

James Cove:
In 1934 the worst avalanche of this century occurred on the slopes of Castagniccia at only 700 meters altitude, sweeping through the village of Ortiporio and killing 37 people

The regional ski committee has a long standing plan to develop a ski station in the bowl at La Lattiniccia on the road pass close to Corte The proposal is for 30km of pistes between 1550 and 2400 meters altitude with the possibility of doubling the area in the future. The total cost of development is estimated at 12.5 million € including necessary artificial snow cover. Presumably a large part of this money would come from European funds. Whether this project will ever be realised remains to be seen.

James Cove:
Corsica has several small ski stations and one, near Corte in the centre of the island, has ambitious plans.
The regional ski committee has a 12m euro plan to develop the bowl at La Lattiniccia.
The proposal is for 30km of pistes between 1550 and 2400 meters altitude with the possibility of doubling the area in the future.
It would however need funding from the EU for the project to go ahead but, so far, that is not forthcoming.

Before you get ideas of snow, sex and sun in the isle of savage beauty you should be aware that Corsica is basically a 2,500 meter high rock surrounded by huge expanses of ocean. As such it catches every weather system as it tracks across Europe. Off piste skiers and freeriders need to carry an altimeter, maps and compass and know how to use them.

James Cove:
Corsica is basically a 2,500m rock surrounded by huge expanses of ocean. As such it catches every weather system as it tracks across Europe.
Off piste skiers and freeriders need to carry an altimeter, maps and compass and know how to use them.

In the winter violent storms are somewhat less frequent but the constant wind drives the snow into potential slab avalanches. Powder is rare due to the wide daily temperature variations which leads to its rapid transformation. This stabilized snow-pack is favourable to extreme skiing.

James Cove:
In the winter constant wind drives the snow into potential slab avalanches. Powder is rare due to the wide daily temperature variations that leads to its rapid transformation. This stabilized snow-pack is however good for off piste skiing as it makes the snowpack safer.

With that level of journalistic integrity is it any wonder Cove’s alarmist articles for the BBC were so unconvincing?

Ski Reports

With ski resorts from Scotland to Scandinavia and down to Italy once again reporting great snow conditions this winter I thought it might be worth taking a little look back at some predictions for the ski industry, as reported by the BBC.

5 November 1998:

As warm weather threatens to close some 200 Swiss ski resorts, British and Swiss scientists have begun a joint study to examine the impact of global warming on the Alps.
Their inquiry follows some unusually warm winter weather that has left many skiing resorts without fresh snow for weeks.

14 November 1998:

Some popular Italian ski resorts could be without snow by 2008 if winter temperatures continue to rise at their present rate, according to European scientists.

(From latest Ski Club of GB snow report, 31 December 2009: “Italy has some of the best conditions in the Alps this week. Lots of fresh snow has fallen in many places and impressive snow bases mean even where the snow hasn’t fallen there is still good skiing”)

17 November 2001:

Global warming may hit skiing
By the BBC’s James Cove, in the Swiss Alps.

Scientists are warning that global warming is melting Alpine glaciers at an unprecedented rate.
They claim that in 15 years time, many low level ski resorts could have no snow at all.

28 November 2003:

The closure of Glencoe ski resort has come as a blow to the winter tourism industry in Scotland…
The theory that global warming could be to blame for the difficulties at Glencoe is favoured by Professor Adam Watson from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Banchory, Aberdeenshire.
He said: “With temperatures rising at the speed they are, within 20 years, skiing in Scotland could be finished.”

(Ski Club of GB snow report 31 December 2009 – “Glencoe (30/50cm) is in superb shape thanks to the recent wintry weather that has brought fresh snow to all of our featured Scottish resorts.”)

Oddly enough, no mention of “global warming” or “climate change” in this report from 24 January 2005:

Alpine resorts hit by snow chaos
By James Cove

Huge snowstorms have hit the Alps over the past week, causing massive disruption and a number of deaths.

But even fresh snowfall couldn’t prevent the inevitable references cropping up again the following winter. 17 December 2005:

Relief as snow hits ski resorts
By James Cove

With a week to go until Christmas, ski resorts are breathing a collective sigh of relief as snow finally falls across many parts of the Alps.

However, low level resorts face a bleak future with scientists increasingly concerned about global warming.

And the winter after that. 11 November 2006:

James Cove, BBC News

Climate change has had a significant impact on the multi-million pound ski industry, and it is now becoming increasingly reliant on man-made snow pumped out on to the slops by snow cannons

13 December 2006:

Global warming could make some Alpine ski resorts unviable within decades, a study has warned.

17 December 2006:

James Cove reports from the Alps

Ski resorts across the European Alps are becoming increasingly worried as current bad snow conditions threaten the all important Christmas holiday period…

Many believe global warming is to blame for the lack of snow.

Two months later Mr Cove appeared to suffer a sudden bout of amnesia. 18 February 2007:

Fresh snow boosts Alpine ski industry
By James Cove

Some ski resorts in the Alps have had up to a metre of fresh snow which they now hope will signal an end to one of the poorest winters in recent years…

The snow has come at an ideal time with half-term holidays across Europe. The European ski industry hopes it will help salvage its tarnished image – some people are beginning to think of the Alps as having a problem with snow. [Where could they be getting that idea from? DB.]

Bad press, bad for business

“All the stories in the press earlier this winter about the poor snowfalls did damage to the ski industry as there is now a widespread perception there is no snow,” said Toby Mallock, the commercial director of the Verbier ski school, European Snowsport.

“Of course the conditions were bad in many resorts at the beginning of the season, but they are not now.”

There are many myths and misconceptions prompted by concerns about global warming and the effect it may have on the ski industry.

“It’s a little reported fact that last winter in the Alps, it was actually the coldest for over two decades. Everyone thinks the Alps are just getting warmer and warmer,” said Olivier Roduit, a Swiss mountain guide.

This Christmas, wide sections of the media reported on the poor snow conditions in the Alps, blaming it on high temperatures [Once again, who could that have been? DB]. Not true.

It was well below zero in many resorts but it simply did not snow. The temperature had little to do with it.

But a few months later it was business as usual for the BBC’s man in the Alps. 12 August 2007:

Ski resorts seek new summer image
By James Cove

Alpine ski resorts are making a special effort to attract tourists this summer, amid fears about climate change and the impact of warmer temperatures on winter snow.

And he was at it again a year ago, dutifully trotting out the alarmist line. 3 January 2009:

A lack of snow caused by global warming could be threatening the future of many ski resorts, according to scientists.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has warned of the eventual disappearance of some low-lying mountain resorts.
James Cove reports from the Swiss Alps.

(Swiss resorts had a bumper 2008/9 season, as did those across Europe: “Conditions in the Alps and Pyrenees are as good as they have been for 25 years, according to the Ski Club of Great Britain.”)

So, if you’re going skiing this year at one of the resorts which “scientists” told us should have closed by now, spare a thought for James Cove and his BBC colleagues; the poor sods must be wondering where their next “Ski industry doomed by global warming” articles are going to come from.

Update 18.20pm. James Cove appears to have taken some time off from his BBC employment to set up his own website, PlanetSKI. From his base in Verbier, Switzerland, he blogged the following on the 3 December, 2009:

As we approach 2010 it seems worth asking how the noughties have been for snowfall?

An analysis of the facts shows that in Verbier the snow level has been pretty similar on average throughout the last decade.  I have looked through the details of every year and every month and quite frankly there isn’t much difference. There was more snow on average at the beginning of the decade, but not that much more. At 73-years old Hubert Cretton is the resort’s oldest working mountain guide, and has been a high mountain guide for almost 50 years.  “Sometimes we get good winters and sometimes we can get bad ones,” he observes. “Overall things really haven’t changed that much. The winter of 1962/63 saw huge levels of snowfall and then 1 year later we had a very poor winter and many resorts had to close early due to a lack of snow.”

I get the impression that James is a decent Cove who just wants to ski, and as such has spent a decade giving BBC editors what they wanted to hear so he can carry on with his favourite pastime. I might have done the same thing given the chance. Anyway, I wish him well with his new venture.


On the Big Question, with Nicky Campbell, the first question being asked is whether it is right to break the law to “save the planet”. In the audience were those from the London Climate Camp (all hideously white, I might add) who were there to insist that they have the right to do what they want to save us from global meltdown. One Swampy wannabe compared himself to Martin Luther King! There was a Human Rights lawyer in the audience to point out that it is appropriate to commit a crime if it prevents a greater crime. There was a lady from the Anglican Church who agreed that it may get to the point where criminal action is required to prevent climate change! There was a Rabbi on the panel who also supported Swampy and the gang breaking the law. There was an Imam from the Islamic Society of Britain who took issue on this and bizarrely, Nicky attacked him. (Not often the BBC take issue with Islamists but hey, when it comes to climate change there is a lefty moral dilemma) Mind you, the Imam did praise Obama’s approach to dealing with the issue. Nicky was pontificating that the Maldives may disappear if we do not take action. (Wonder if he holidays there) This programme is liberals talking to liberals and it is bias incarnate.