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On the subject of the story being abandoned or suppressed, it has actually re-surfaced in the Guardian today:
The article is being published at the end of February rather than in the middle of January when it would have been much more topical.
I suspect the reason the story is re-surfacing may be connected with an accompanying Guardian article by Alok Jha called "As Antarctica opens up, will privateer explorers be frozen out?":
In this article Jha expresses the concern that this may be the first and last privately funded Antarctic research expedition in the modern era, due to the need for an expensive rescue operation and also due to criticism from people running the normal government funded Antarctic research.
In addition to being a science journalist for the Guardian, Jha is also employed by the BBC as a presenter on a TV programme called "Science Club", hosted by Dara O Briain. I suspect that in the next series of Science Club, if there is one, we will probably see some footage from this Spirit of Mawson expedition, and Jha will talk up the importance of any scientific findings that it has supposedly made.
One thing about the "Spirit of Mawson" caper that I don't think was picked up by the AGW sceptic blogosphere is that one of its purposes, possibly its main purpose, is to explore the possibility of carrying out low budget, privately funded (which is also Green-funded) scientific research in the Antarctic region.
The background to this is that the Greenies have wanted to get directly involved in carrying out scientific research in the Antarctic since the 1980s. The ozone hole research conducted in the Antarctic provides the lesson that if you want to impose environmental mumbo-jumbo on the world, then claiming some scientific discovery in that geographical region is a good way to start.
Greenpeace actually tried to set up a scientific base in the New Zealand sector of the Antarctic about 25 years ago, and ran it from 1987 to 1992. This New Scientist article from 1991 (only the first few paragraphs are free to view) gives some details of this particular Greenpeace project:
"The environmental pressure group Greenpeace is considering dismantling its base in Antarctica, the continent's only permanently occupied base that is not run by a national government.
Closing the four-year-old base, called World Park, would release money for other activities in Greenpeace's Antarctic campaign, which spends around $1 million a year. It would, however, represent an admission that World Park has failed in one of its main goals, that of winning Greenpeace the status of official observer at meetings of the Antarctic Treaty, which regulates activities on the continent. Nations become eligible to join the treaty by operating a permanent scientific base on the continent.
Greenpeace says that World Park, perhaps the most expensive environmental protest ever mounted, has achieved its other aims, both political and scientific. In particular, it demonstrates that scientific bases do not need to dump waste."
Greenpeace could not get their supposed scientific base recognised by other parties in the Antarctic, and could not afford to keep the base operational.
In more recent years the idea of 'adventure cruises' in the Antarctic region has become reasonably well established. This raises the possibility of doing low budget scientific research (without having to run expensive bases) by using one of these cruise ships funded by eco-tourists to get to the area, and then taking day trips to the coast and gathering somewhat limited bits of scientific data. "Spirit of Mawson" is different from other adventure cruises in that it has a small group of scientific researchers onboard who are using the trip to gather data. I suppose one merit of this is that it is reducing the burden on the taxpayer of funding research, but I can see this privately funded research being even more Green-biased than the taxpayer-funded version.