We Were Wrong About Climate Refugees


It’s a difficult thing to admit when you are wrong. Several years ago, the United Nations suggested we would soon have to deal with refugees fleeing the impact of climate change. Many of us, myself included, scoffed at the idea. But new evidence has emerged, and it would be a failure of personal integrity to reject the now undeniable reality, that we were wrong.

The Australian newspaper reports that the dangerously rapid growth of Antarctic ice is threatening the viability of the Mawson Antarctic research station.

According to the report, the ice was so thick last year, the supply ship was unable to break through the coastal pack to reach the base. Fuel supplies had to be flown in by helicopter.

Satellite observations show a new daily record being set for ­Antarctic sea ice every day for the past two weeks. Annual records have also been broken every year for the past three years.

Rob Wooding, general manager of the Australian Antarctic Division’s Operations Branch, said expanding sea ice was now causing serious problems.

Last year, fuel supplies were flown to Australia’s Mawson base by helicopter because the harbour had failed to clear. Dr Wooding said the situation was “unsustainable”.

He said it was possible for the Aurora Australis icebreaker to break through a certain amount of sea ice to enter the harbour, and the planned capability of a replacement icebreaker would increase the ability to do this.

But conditions experienced last year of thick sea ice, with snow cover, extending out 40 to 50km could not regularly be navigated by any Antarctic resupply vessel.

“If we were to face such a situation at Mawson for three or four successive seasons, it would be unlikely that we could continue to resupply the station under the current operating model,” he said. “Unless we could find an alternative resupply strategy, questions would arise as to the ongoing ­viability of the station.”

This may be just the tip of the iceberg. Other bases are also facing resupply difficulties, problems which are exacerbated by ships full of idiots visiting dangerous polar regions to observe the effects of global warming.

If Antarctic ice continues to grow, the trickle of refugees may become a stampede, as Antarctic climate scientists, some of whom have been there for years, are forced to leave their traditional habitats.

Who will help these bewildered unfortunates make the adjustment? Big cities might be traumatic and confusing, for climate scientists who have for many years experienced the tight knit traditions and community of the Antarctic base camps.

Let us hope the governments responsible for this awful situation step up to their responsibilities. Perhaps we can find displaced climate researchers new homes, on some remote mountain top, habitats which are similar enough to their traditional Antarctic villages, that they can wait out the ice – somewhere they can settle, until global warming melts enough of the Antarctic, so they can be re-homed back in their research stations.


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