The passengers are not all scientists. Some are "paying members of the public." Oh, those people who just need to go everywhere, eh? People with "bucket lists." I suppose they want to pay to go up in space too. Will they have to chip in for the helicopter rescue or whatever else is going to be needed and/or will they sue the shipping company?
Here's how the cruise was presented to the public:
Our vessel, MV Akademik Shokalskiy, is well-experienced in these waters. She will carry a mixture of scientists and a limited number of fare-paying passengers. As a passenger you will be invited to act as a field assistant to help the scientists complete their ambitious programs. Your involvement will of course be voluntary and it may vary throughout the journey; dictated in part by the prevailing weather, conditions and some permit restrictions. It is an exciting concept that has not been tested in the Southern Ocean before.Well-experienced and untested! I'd like to see what these passengers paid, but somehow the prices aren't currently showing. And — here — now, the news is that there will indeed be a helicopter rescue. As for the climate-change scientists, whom you might think would be embarrassed by the difficulties experienced in what is the Antarctic summertime, they're working on their story:
Chris Turney, one of the leaders of the scientific expedition [and a] professor of climate change at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, said satellite images indicated that their vessel had become stuck in ice which had broken away from a glacier.If only that ice had remained attached to that glacier, it wouldn't have been out there where they encountered it. It's all very unusual. Very change-y. See, whatever happens can be said to have happened for the reason you've already reasoned is the reason for whatever happens to have happened. You can't lose. Now, winch me outta here.
The fierce winds had pushed it into an area of normally open sea, blocking the ship's progress, and this ice was now three to four metres thick in some places, although in others there were gaps with no ice.
"It's an unusual event that's happened," he said. "We were in the wrong place at the wrong time."
ADDED: I love the way the cruise ship's website lures customers with "Rare wildlife encounters on land and at sea, possibly including Emperor penguins." You might see some penguins! Wasn't this mostly a commercial enterprise, a cruise for bucket-listers? There's the lure of rubbing elbows with climatologists, who'll be providing lectures to acolytes of their "ambitious programs." I'd like to see who paid and who was paid what. Could some journalist do an investigation into these science-tastic cruise junkets?
AND: A reader sends a to an article from last January in The New Zealand Herald titled "Tourists drawn to wonders of Antarctic." That puts the price of a 28-day tour leaving from New Zealand — which is what the currently icebound cruise was — at $20,000 per person. 50,000 people a year cough up that kind of money for the strenuous trip (which I wouldn't do if you paid me $20,000). For some reason, this is called "responsible" tourism.
Filmmaker and marine reserve advocate Peter Young said responsible tourism was "the answer for the Ross Sea." "Tourists take photos, become ambassadors, and share the reasons the Ross Sea is special... The marginal fishery is full of conflict and danger."I had to look up "toothfish." And then I looked up "responsible tourism," which I'm guessing is tourism that is subject to the criticism that it's irresponsible and consequent efforts to mitigate the environmental degradation. Wikipedia has "responsible tourism" squirreled away inside an article on "sustainable tourism," with a paragraph saying that the 2 things share the ideas of "environmental integrity, social justice and economic development," but they are different in that "in responsible tourism, individuals, organizations and businesses are asked to take responsibility for their actions and the impacts of their actions." I don't quite get the difference, unless "asked to" means "required to."
Aaron Russ [who works with Heritage Expeditions] said tourism could compete with the profits of the toothfish industry: "You could easily realise $20 million from tourism while having a lot less impact on the environment."...
Organising trips to the Ross Sea is a logistical nightmare. Ships have to sail through pack ice for 36 hours, and contend with gut-wrenching swells and changeable weather. Aaron Russ said his company had to prove it would have an invisible footprint, and had annual evaluations to prove it would cause only "a minor or transitory impact."
I find it very hard to understand the people who imagine they are big environmentalists who go on trips like that. Why doesn't the couple with $40,000 to drop on an arduous vacation stay home, read about environmentalism, and donate that money to some worthy environmental group? The notion that you are earning authority as an "ambassador" or that your photographs of the ice and potential penguins are going add in any significant way to the world's millions of ice-and-penguin pics is delusional.