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The $500 Billion plan to save the arctic

It involves a lot of wind powered pumps pumping water onto the ice caps to refreeze them in the winter. That’s the $500 Billion plan.

The polar caps are melting, and they’ve been on the decline for quite some time. Most of us millennials have been reading about the melting ice caps since our early school days and that hasn’t stopped over the years. Over the years, we’ve banned some of the culprits such as CFC Aerosols and dampened the rate at which the ice caps were reducing but these ended up being half-measures. However, there’s a new idea by Steve Desch, Professor of Astrophysics at the School of Earth & Space Exploration at Arizona State University that shows promise. It entails building 10 million wind-powered pumps across the Arctic ice cap which would pump water onto the surface of the ice cap in winter to help thicken it. So what’s the catch? It needs $500 billion dollars to materialise.

Desch outlines his plan in a research article called “Arctic Ice Management” in the journal Earth’s Future. He emphasises upon the urgency of the issue as estimates peg that the summer Arctic could be ice-free as soon as the 2030s. And there have been articles indicating that we are at the tipping point of a runaway climate change.Just last November, as the winters hit the Arctic, the temperatures should have dropped to -25 degrees celsius but instead it was found that they were several degrees above the freezing point. According to researchers from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, despite it being the middle of January, the ice in the Arctic was the lowest it had been in 38 years.

Researchers can’t help but stress how important it is for the planet’s future that the ice caps survive. Not only would the melting of the ice caps trigger even more global warming, it would endanger most of the species living in the habitat.

The polar ice caps are responsible for reflecting the sun’s solar radiation back into space. Without them, the radiation(and heat) would get absorbed by the earth. Losing the ice cap would also disrupt weather patterns across the northern hemisphere.

According to Desch, it might be too late for us to be able to reverse our global warming situation by further cutting down on carbon emissions. We may already be too far gone. What we should instead focus on is artificially restoring the region’s ice. Which is why he suggested wind-powered pumps to pump water onto the ice’s surface during winter to thicken it.

He adds that “Every year, there is more ice melting in the summer and less freezing in the winter. We’re losing 300 cubic kilometres per year on average. The Arctic is losing ice the size of an ice cube that’s 4 miles on each side (that’s 64 cubic miles annually).” As told to CNBC.

Why $500 billion though?

Well, while the tech to get the job done is simple enough, it’s the volume that comes with the heft price tag. Just one such wind-powered pump would cost $50,000. For the plan to work, it would take at least 10 million such devices.

Desch says that there’s no need to spend all $500 billion at once, it could be spent evenly across a span of a decade. For a plan of this scope to work, it needs to be taken seriously and made a priority. In his words, “It’s big, but it’s not impossible.”

Desch adds that another advantage of his method over other proposed methods is that it’s “purely mechanical”. Meaning they won’t be making use of any new chemicals but are simply accelerating an already normal process.


Mithun Mohandas

While not dishing out lethal doses of sarcasm, this curious creature can often be found tinkering with tech, playing vidya' games or exploring the darkest corners of the Internets. #PCMasterRace