(Hat tip to the blogger “geran” for linking me to the first video.)
Years ago one of my older brothers shook his head at me pitifully, and stated, “You just don’t understand politics.” As usual, I was immediately on the defensive, but could think of no rejoinder, for the fact of the matter was he was right. I didn’t, and I still don’t. Politicians are too dishonest, and I can’t understand people who prefer falsehood to truth. Maybe I am simple minded, but to me Truth is Beauty, and Beauty is Truth, and some even say God is Truth. All the skulduggery of politics is ugly to me. Furthermore it is an exercise in futility, but please don’t ask me to explain that.
Oh, all right, if you insist. I’ll give you the short version.
The opposite of Truth is Ignorance, which only attracts fools. Ignorance may seem a powerful thing in a certain situation, and you might be tempted to hurry to ignorance to be on the “winning side”, but ignorance only can exist by excluding Truth, and is therefore dependent on Truth. It it like the darkness of a cave with five miles of bedrock between its pitch black and the surface, secure in its certainty its darkness is mighty, yet able to be defeated by a child with a candle the size of your little finger.
One of my favorite tales is the tale of the Babylonian King Belshazzar, ruler of the greatest superpower on earth, getting drunk as a skunk at a party (and perhaps imbibing in some of the hallucinogens of the time), and noticing some water-stain in the wallpaper that looked like writing, and ordering the prophet Daniel be dragged out of bed to tell him what the writing stated. Daniel may have been understandably cranky, but he said one thing that could have gotten his head chopped off. He basically told Belshazzar that his time as king was over, and the Medes and Persians were going to take over. However Belshazzar was so drunk and euphoric he made Daniel wear an purple robe and golden chain and promoted him to third-in-command, (which was basically meaningless, for it meant Daniel would be third-in-command of a defunct kingdom). The tale concludes that even as Daniel made himself scarce, exiting stage left, Darius came marching into the throne room from stage right, and Belshazzar was history. (Also known as “dead”.)
This abrupt end of a super power may have been due to Climate Change. How so? The moat of the Babylonian capital was a river, but drought had lowered the moat to a point it was largely dry. The Persians and Medes basically walked into Belshazzar’s throne-room without a fight. Some historians think the end of the Babylonian Empire may have been a bloodless coup.
It is difficult to be certain about the details of events that occurred 2600 years ago, but I should add that the tale of Daniel the Prophet drives historians, and even some Biblical scholars, bonkers. Apparently the ancient Persians began as subservient to the Medes, but wound up on top, and the real boss was a Persian named Cyrus the Great. Darius the Mede was just historically obscure king past his prime, aged sixty-two. (Oh my Lord! That’s younger than me!) I should likely add that some historians doubt Darius the Mede, or even Danial the Prophet, ever existed.
In conclusion, this tale delights me because it is a tale. It has a power that baffles science, because it holds some strange light within its words that needs no microscope nor calipers to move men, touch men, change men. It has woven itself into the fabric of our language, so that we speak of “the writing on the wall” and “being weighed and found wanting” and “being thrown to the lions” without going to church or reading scriptures, or understanding we are driving nit-picky scientists and nit-pickier historians bonkers. In other words, we are crossing the landscapes explored by totally unemployable English Majors.
Welcome to my world. But skedaddle. It is not a landscape friendly to tourists, and it is best we get back to Truth in more worldly terms. I only ventured out onto this quicksand because Belshazzar is such a perfect symbol of certain politically-correct individuals we run into, when we talk about sea-ice.
Belshazzar understood politics, and the political correctness of Babylonia, and may even have been utterly charming and great fun at a party, but sometimes such stuff turns out to be totally worthless. Your political party may be drunk and dizzy with joy, but some party-poop like Darius (Or Donald) will crash the party and confront you with Truth.
Engineers, who have to deal with pragmatic realities and make things work, call the Darius that wreaks things “Murphy’s Law.” In the end the party-pooping “Darius” boils down to a vast complexity which is much, much bigger than our small understanding, called “Truth.”
The funny thing is that I never wanted anything to do with anything complex, when I first started to study sea-ice. I liked sea-ice because it is beautiful, and I wanted to know a simple thing. Is it melting away, or isn’t it? I did not want to know all sorts of things about volcano ash and soot from China, layers of water in the Arctic Sea and updrafts from underwater volcanoes, the tilt of the earth’s axis and the sunspot cycles of our Star, drifting snow and drifting salt, the chemistry of the upper atmosphere and the bacteria that inhabit brine, and last of all I wanted nothing to do with the patriotic politics of Russia.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got nothing against Russians. Maybe I can’t think like them. I can’t drink that much vodka. (If we dueled, and I got to chose the weapons,the weapon I chose would be scotch.) However the simple fact of the matter is they take the arctic far more seriously than I can.
For me, the arctic is far away. The huge nation of Canada provides a buffer. Russia has no such buffer. In fact, when you are talking about sea-ice, you are talking about their homeland.
This makes them know more about sea-ice, but also be a bit crazy about the subject. The video below holds beautifully accurate portrayals of the state of the ice at the Pole, but the music introduces a different factor.
The beautiful bombast of the music can be listened to without looking at the ice, and may make you love your neighbor a bit more, even if it means loving your enemy. However I turn the sound off, because I am most interested in studying the leads and the pressure ridges. The above video has some of the most educational pans and sweeps over the ice and along the ridges and leads I’ve ever seen, (all taken by a small helicopter drone, I believe.)
However if you don’t think politics is involved, watch the video below, titled.
Polar target: Russian paratroopers in the Arctic
Or how about
Russian Marines engaged in extreme exercise in the Arctic
Something about the intensity of the Russians explains why the Norwegians got all bent out of shape, and made it next to impossible for tourists to go to the Russian “Barneo” base this spring. The Norwegians demanded every bag be checked, basically introducing a three-day-wait into a schedule where things had to be decided minute to minute. Norwegians stated it was a matter of “national security”. It didn’t seem to slow down the Russian military one bit, as they just rerouted through Franz Josef Land. But it did slow down the tourism trade in Svalbard, because hundreds of very rich tourists who wanted to visit the North Pole canceled their trips. (The tourists had been willing to pay anywhere between $15,000.00 and $40,000.00 for a day at the Pole.)
Like my older brother said, years ago, I don’t understand politics, and such a situation looks like a lose-lose situation to me. However the Russians felt they won, or else wanted to create that impression.
Huge Victory Banner to Barneo
I should confess this exercise seems a bit witless to me. I wish I had a tenth of the money they spent on that flag and on all those men spreading that flag, and could use it to hire hands to weed my garden. The exercise is especially absurd because the ice they claim with their flag will likely pass through Fram Strait by October and be but bits and pieces dissolving southwest of Iceland by next Christmas.
I furthermore stress that if you are really interested in sea-ice you not only turn off the sound, but you should also pay no attention to what the humans are doing, marching about in camouflage uniforms when they should wear Finnish Army uniforms of snow-white.
However you need to do the same thing, regarding silly Americans. They may not march around in inappropriate uniforms like Russians, but they are doubly dopey with their balderdash science, which manifests most clearly in the claims of an “ice-free-pole,” a “death spiral” and “a future where our children will not know what snow looks like.” These claims are so scientifically stupid that you know you need to turn the volume off, and just look at the facts.
Sadly, silly Americans, unlike the Russians, attempt to take “patriotism” (that they call “internationalism”) a step further, and to expunge the facts, and censor the pictures, and “adjust” the data, and falsify the public records. It is a low point in American history, I’m afraid, where we look about as smart as Belshazzar.
Me? I just turn down the volume, and attend to the Truth.
Today’s maps show the high pressure weakening at the Pole, and a meek whirl venturing north of Greenland, as the persistent (if intermittent) sunshine continues to warm the surface of the bone-cold ice, (which can be as cold as minus thirty only six inches below the surface.)
The above maps show us south winds push north through Alaska. We are not surprised our lone camera, in the midst of that flow, feels the south winds and registers a “heat wave” with temperatures nudging up towards minus five. The southern moisture makes the skies dull.
With skies so dull, you can understand why some Russians and Americans seek the more interesting nonsense of politics. In the end, however, I believe we dullards, who prefer Truth, will appear wiser.