TreeHugger Emeritus Bonnie lives in London and sends us the Evening Standard headline announcing the demise of Boaty McBoatface, the cutest name ever for a research vessel. (I should tell her about the internet) And why is this on TreeHugger, you ask? Because many years ago she started the Mr. Splashypants debacle, where in a similar popularity context, Bonnie considered the winning name undignified. Readers were indignant, calling it "Splashygate" and pointed out (like they have about Boaty McBoatface) that " Silliness is GREAT for generating engagement." After all, why does TreeHugger have such a silly name? Totally to be ironic and a bit silly, to generate engagement. So we were in the tank for Boaty McBoatface.
But the Queen's Science Minister Jo Johnson says of the public: "off with their heads!" and named the ship after Sir David Attenborough, who turns 90 this week. The humourless functionary said "The public provided some truly inspirational and creative names, and while it was a difficult decision I’m delighted that our state-of-the-art polar research ship will be named after one of the nation’s most cherished broadcasters and natural scientists."
David Attenborough is quite chuffed about it, saying:
I am truly honoured by this naming decision and hope that everyone who suggested a name will feel just as inspired to follow the ship’s progress as it explores our polar regions. I have been privileged to explore the world’s deepest oceans alongside amazing teams of researchers, and with this new polar research ship they will be able to go further and discover more than ever before.
Meanwhile, next week a committee of Parliament will be investigating the Boaty McBoatface scandal with a special "session on science communication" to ensure that McBoatfaceGate never happens again.
And Boaty McBoatface"? The name will live a life of ease in a Yellow Submarine under a sky of blue in a sea of green, chasing Mr. Splashypants through the Arctic waters.