Typically, Newsbusters pumps out great loads of delirious nonsense in its efforts to counter-balance the MSM's alleged Liberal bias. Noel Sheppard's article on melting Arctic sea-ice is about par for the course:
In the past couple of days, the media have reported "grim" melting of ice in the Arctic while disgracefully ignoring the history of the region prior to 1979 and explorations of the area as far back as 1903.
How can anyone make a claim with a straight face that ice conditions in the Arctic are either historically low or grim when we've only been monitoring these levels for the last 35 years? Is everything that happened in this region - in thousands of millennia since the Big Bang occurred - totally irrelevant?
Such is especially the case given the history of successful sea-based explorations of the Arctic dating back as far as 1903.
For instance, a name media would love for global warming alarmists not to know is Roald Amundsen, a Norwegian explorer who successfully navigated the Northwest Passage on August 26, 1905 (h/t Walt Bennett, Jr.)
Well, maybe I'm dating myself, but back in the day, Roald Amundsen was a name you were supposed to pick up in high-school (at least in Canada, where we have an affinity for ice). But I digress:
...this Passage was clear enough of ice for a wooden sailboat, with a crew of seven, to successfully navigate it more than 100 years ago. How many times in the history of the planet do you think a similar - or even more ice-free - condition existed in this area?
A quick trip to wiki debunks the notion that the passage was "clear" (emphasis mine):
In 1903, Amundsen led the first expedition to successfully traverse the Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans (something explorers had been attempting since the days of Christopher Columbus, John Cabot, and Henry Hudson), with six others in the ship Gjøa. They travelled via Baffin Bay, Lancaster and Peel Sounds, and James Ross and Rae Straits to spend two winters exploring over land and ice from the place today called Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, Canada.
During this time Amundsen learned from the local Netsilik people about key Arctic survival skills that he would need. From them, for example, he learned to use sled dogs. Amundsen even went so far as to adopt their dress. Continuing to the south of Victoria Island, the ship cleared the Canadian Arctic Archipelago on August 17, 1905, but had to stop for the winter before going on to Nome on the Alaska Territory's Pacific coast. Five hundred miles (800 km) away, Eagle City, Alaska, had a telegraph station; Amundsen travelled there (and back) overland to wire a success message (collect) on December 5, 1905. Nome was reached in 1906. Due to water as shallow as 3 feet (1 m), a larger ship could never have used the route.
Of course, part of this two year voyage was spent exploring. Part of it, however, involved being stuck in ice. Furthermore, I don't think the fact that a shallow draft sail-boat could creep through the passage where no other boats could go stands as evidence that the passage was "open".
The same point applies to Noel Sheppard's second example:
Not that the media cares, but this Passage was also conquered several times in the 1940s (emphasis added):
Between 1940 and 1942 St. Roch navigated the Northwest Passage, arriving in Halifax harbor on October 11, 1942. St. Roch was the second ship to make the passage, and the first to travel the passage from west to east.
But of course the St. Roch was "ice fortified", and that trip too was hardly a walk in the park:
In 1940, Canadian RCMP officer Henry Larsen was the second to sail the passage, crossing west to east, from Vancouver, Canada to Halifax, Canada. More than once on this trip, it was touch and go as to whether the St. Roch a Royal Canadian Mounted Police "ice-fortified" schooner would survive the ravages of the sea ice. At one point, Larsen wondered "if we had come this far only to be crushed like a nut on a shoal and then buried by the ice." The ship and all but one of her crew survived the winter on Boothia Peninsula. Each of the men on the trip was awarded a medal by Canada's sovereign, King George VI, in recognition of this notable feat of Arctic navigation.
So they nearly get squashed by ice-shoals, and spend the winter trapped among the floes, and anyway have a special hull designed for the extreme conditions. And Mr. Sheppard thinks this proves the Northwest Passage's was "open" during those years? I don't think so. I think the term, properly used, means something more like what this fellow had in mind, where you can just hop into your outboard and circumnavigate the arctic circle.