A North Pole expedition meant to bring attention to global warming was
called off after one of the explorers got frostbite. The explorers, Ann
Bancroft and Liv Arnesen, on Saturday called off what was intended to
be a 530-mile trek across the Arctic Ocean after Arnesen suffered
frostbite in three of her toes, and extreme cold temperatures drained
the batteries in some of their electronic equipment.
"Ann said losing toes and going forward at all costs was never part
of the journey," said Ann Atwood, who helped organize the expedition.
On Monday, the pair was at Canada’s Ward Hunt Island, awaiting a
plane to take them to Resolute, Canada, where they were to return to
Minneapolis later this week.
Bancroft, 51, became the first woman to cross the North Pole on a
1986 expedition. She and Arnesen, 53, of Oslo, Norway, were the first
women to ski across Antarctica in 2001.
But the latest trek got off to a bad start. The day they set off
from Ward Hunt Island, a plane landing near the women hit their gear,
punching a hole in Bancroft’s sled and damaging one of Arnesen’s
They repaired the snowshoe with binding from a ski, but Atwood said
the patch job created pressure on Arnesen’s left foot, which led to
blisters that then turned into frostbite.
Then there was the cold — quite a bit colder, Atwood said, then
Bancroft and Arnesen had expected. One night they measured the
temperature inside their tent at 58 degrees below zero, and outside
temperatures were exceeding 100 below zero at times, Atwood said.
That seems pretty cold. The school children are going to be so disappointed.
The explorers had planned to call in regular updates to school groups
by satellite phone, and had planned online posts with photographic
evidence of global warming. In contrast to Bancroft’s 1986 trek across
the Arctic with fellow Minnesota explorer Will Steger, this time she
and Arnesen were prepared to don body suits and swim through areas
where polar ice has melted.
But just in case you were thinking of adding this data point to the skeptical column:
"They were experiencing temperatures that weren’t expected with global
warming," Atwood said. "But one of the things we see with global
warming is unpredictability."
That’s the true Onionesque part of the story. See, it’s all about the science. The model is perfect. There are no outliers to be explained, no data that doesn’t fit the model. Really hot? Global warming? Really cold? Global warming! It’s a very powerful theory that explains everything.