Can We Refreeze The Arctic?
Global warming is a hot topic. Pun intended. Ice is melting, water levels are rising, and half of everyone is eventually going to end up drowning. Unless you live inland. In which case, your biggest worry is going to be those with once expensive beachfront properties asking to squat in your garden. Those same properties that once required you to win big playing online scratchcards in order to have a bank balance large enough to buy one, may one day be swept away. It’s no laughing matter, really.
But as far as solutions go, there simply aren’t very many. Other than convincing one another that it’s really happening, the standard approach seems to be to get scared of global warming, but go right back to normal and whistle when requests are put forward regarding what exactly we’re all supposed to do about it. So, similar to Y2K, but with water instead of a series of zeroes.
That is, unless you’re Denny Lesm, Aris Rajak Kotahatuhaha, Ana Budi and Fiera Alifa. These plucky young Taiwanese designers found solutions while others adopted stances of slacktivism. The team recently won the 2nd prize for an Association of Siamese Architects (ASA) design competition, masterminding a system that proposes to refreeze the Arctic.
But could this plan straight out of a science fiction disaster film work, or is it better off as a film script?
The Re-Freeze Plan
ASA is the centre of Thailand’s design professionals. Funded by the government, the group encourages critical thinking in the countries youth. The organisations holds regular competitions, calling on ambitious youngsters on an international scale to put their brains to the test, think outside the box, and come up with solutions to big problems. We’re not sure if they expected something like the Re-Freeze the Arctic: Re-Iceberg-Isation Hexagonal Tubular Ice Arctic plan, but as much as we make jokes, we confess we’re pretty impressed.
It wasn’t so long ago that the thing to protest was deforestation. The answer to deforestation was, of course, reseeding forests. Which, incidentally, is what logging companies do when they cut down trees. But now with paper on its way out, bemoaning logging companies isn’t as trendy as it once was. The point is that reseeding forests ensures that we never land up dying of asphyxiation, so everyone can happily go on breathing in order to protest global warming.
The reseeding approach is what motivated our young architects. The group came up with an astonishingly well thought out plan to refreeze the Arctic one chunk at a time. And we’ll be gobsmacked if it doesn’t seem perfectly feasible. A touch difficult to put into practice yes, but the logistics really do seem to check out. On the other hand, none of us are engineers.
How Would it Work?
The plan is based around an adapted immense submarine. Though, calling it that doesn’t put across the scale of what we’re talking about. Rather let’s call it a large, floating, submersible freezer. Measuring 25 meters in diameter, the vessel hangs out in the Arctic, designed to withstand weather and otherwise be extremely versatile. A bulb shaped underbelly prevents it from tipping over, while the deck appears to be a frankly lovely place to hang out. At least according to the design documents, which show fun loving tourists having a merry old time. We believe they might be a bit colder than is depicted.
The vessel goes about creating ice by dipping below the surface when needed to collect water. The water is then desalinated, or separated from its salt, and frozen into a hexagonal sheet. Or ‘ice baby’ as the designers like to call it. The ice baby is released into a growing ‘ice field,’ and another created in gradual succession. The hexagonal shape is key here, which allows the ice to lock together on the surface of the water. As we said, it all sounds rather feasible.
Would It Work?
It seems feasible to us, but as we are not engineers we’re probably not qualified to decide what is or isn’t feasible. The core design makes sense, but then things often do make far more sense on paper than in practice. We’ll say again; the thought that has gone into the designs really is remarkable, with semi-detailed information regarding almost every aspect of the proposed vessels.
What we do feel comfortable in saying this; a project of this scale, and this complicated, would take an extraordinary amount of money and effort. Chances are we won’t be seeing any of these elaborate vessels hitting the oceans anytime soon. We also feel comfortable in saying that a few of the ice babies might just land up with various sea creatures frozen inside. Which would be sad, and probably annoy conservationists.
Given that the project is receiving so much attention, their might just be some degree of interest from those with enough money to make such a thing happen. Though, that would be an actual solution to the problem we’re all so scared of, which goes against the standard approach to apparent global disaster. If Y2K has taught us anything, it’s better to wait it out.