The Arctic might soon become completely ice-free
And when all of this ice is gone
The world won’t be the same
But what if I told you
there was a way to prevent this real happening
And that we can do it
By geoengineering some artificial icebergs
This is What If
and here is what happen
if we could refreeze the Arctic?
Over the last thirty years
the Arctic has lost almost all of its oldest, thickest ice.
Now, 70% of the Arctic
is covered with thin seasonal ice caps
that shrink in the summer and grow back in the winter.
By some estimates, if the Earth Continue to grow hotter
the Arctic could lose all its summer ice by the year 2030.
And this would affect more than just the Arctic
The Arctic works like a global freezer,
keeping the planet cool.
Take all of that ice away,
and the weather patterns around the globe
would change in a very unpredictable way.
But it doesn’t have to end like this.
We could step in
and regrow some of the Arctic ice.
but how exactly would we go about it?
The answer lies in geoengineering.
We could bring the ice back to the Arctic
with the help of huge wind-powered pumps.
10 million of them to be precise.
The pumps would spread seawater onto the glaciers
where it would freeze and form a new layer of ice.
Over one Arctic winter,
the pumps would add another meter of thickness to the ice caps.
But this would come with a price tag of 500 billion dollars
And even though that’s less than 1% of the world’s gross domestic product
some governments might consider the price too high.
But there are other ways.
The polar ice keeps the planet cool
by reflecting the Sun’s energy back into space
rather than absorbing it.
This is known as the albedo effect.
We could help the young Arctic ice to reflect more sunlight
by covering it with small, shiny silica microspheres.
These powder like microbeads aren’t toxic,
and their chemical and physical properties are similar to sand.
It would cost us just $300 million
to sprinkle 25,000 square kilometer of the Arctic.
But that would only cover less than 1% of all the ice there.
And we’re talking about
dumping millions of tons of silica over the Arctic
that would sink to the bottom of the ocean when the ice melted.
We don’t know yet what ecological impact
it might cause over time.
Would you want to risk losing the Arctic
before performing more tests?
I didn’t think so.
We could leave the ice alone
and try cutting off the Sun’s rays by using the clouds.
But they would have to be very thick
to reflect the sunlight efficiently enough.
This could be solved by seeding the clouds above the Arctic
with droplets of saltwater.
All we’d have to do is figure out
how to deliver an ultra-fine seawater mist into the lower atmosphere.
Or, we could go further
and start growing icebergs.
First, we’d dip submarines below the surface of the ocean
and fill a tank with seawater.
An onboard desalination system
would remove the salt from the water,
and then a giant freezing machine would form icebergs
5 meters thick and 25 meters wide.
But despite how cool it sounds,
the amount of energy required to power the operation,
and the heat it would release,
might negate any benefits of restoring the Arctic ice.
So should we even bother trying?
We could just quietly watch the Arctic
lose its ice to climate change,
until eventually there wouldn’t be any ice left at all.
As temperatures rose,
the Arctic permafrost would melt
and release more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
That would increase the global temperatures even further.
The weather patterns across the planet would be sent off course,
resulting in more floods, more droughts, and more heatwaves.
Some scientists even believe that
the ice-free Arctic would bring harsher winters to Europe and North America.
And who knows what else could happen?
Without ice to rest on,
polar bears would be forced to swim around
instead of conserving their energy during times when food can be hard to find.
That would result in their population dropping
to less than 10,000 by 2050.
It would be fantastic if we could refreeze the Arctic.
We should at least try to refreeze a small portion of it.
But that would be only a temporary bandage
if we continue doing the things
that caused the ice to melt in the first place.
It really comes down to us making a collective effort
to switch to renewable energy sources and energy-efficient appliances,
to cut back on the amount of meat we eat,
to stop throwing food away, to reduce water waste,
and to buy electric, or at least fuel-efficient cars.
It’s up to us to help our planet
And if that’s not enough,
remember that you have a right to demand policies that reflect climate science.
Together, we could undo climate change globally
before it’s too late.
And if we don’t start acting now,
we might have to leave the Earth
and search for another planet to call home.
But that’s a story for another WHAT IF.
The Arctic might soon become completely ice-free