Many developing and underdeveloped countries in the world have already started to face dire water crisis, as a result of both growing population and inadvertent changes in climate, caused by global warming. The lack of fresh drinking water has affected millions of people in these countries, and the problem might get worse as the temperature of the world keeps rising due to anthropogenic climate change. As governments’ advice citizens to judiciously use water as a lack of ideas to combat this problem, many private agencies are thinking out of the box and proposing ridiculous ideas to provide water to the citizens of water impoverished nations. One such idea is to tow icebergs in giant containers to the countries that are facing water crisis in an attempt to melt them and provide fresh drinking water.
South Africa, in the aftermath of the recent water crisis, has proposed this solution. The water crisis left the nation in a desperate state, as Cape Town proposed shutting down its taps and forcing citizens to queue for water rations at public standpipes. Project Sloane, led by marine salvage expert Nick Slone, has proposed the idea of towing 150 million liters capacity worth iceberg across 2000 Km to the country. To prevent pre-mature melting of the ice, it’s been proposed to wrap it in a textile insulation skirt. While such quantity would hardly solve the countries water crisis, it could cover about 30% of the dent for the next year.
Such ridiculously ambitious idea has been floated prior to this. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has proposed the UAE Iceberg project, which aims to drag iceberg to the Arabic peninsula across 500 Km in the Indian Ocean. Although the distance is longer than South Africa, the project aims to invest $500 million to make this a reality. The company has states that dragging icebergs will offset the cost of desalination and help in providing freshwater to millions of citizens in the Middle East.
The problem with such ideas is glaring. Polar ice caps are an indispensable part of our ecosystem, and should be preserved to maintain and sustain our environment. Global warming is already causing ice-caps to melt at an alarming rate, and strategies to mitigate effects of climate change are being encouraged by the government. In the face of this, private companies are thriving on the aspect of selling high-cost iceberg water. This could accelerate the disruption being caused to polar ice melt and could have adverse effect across the world.
Antarctica holds around 70% of the worlds freshwater in its icebergs and ice sheets. This is in untapped potential for freshwater, and private companies are looking forward to exploit these preserved natural resource. Indeed, providing freshwater to citizens is a vital criteria that should be on the list of priorities for any government. But relying on icebergs to provide that could be detrimental to the delicate ecosystem of our planet.