Friday, January 09, 2009

Ice911: a new take on solving the climate crisis

I'm always interested in fresh approaches to social problems. The global climate crisis is one that is engaging a lot of creative brainpower.

I've been tracking local researcher Leslie Field and her Ice911 concept for more than a year. It's still in stealth mode, but I got Leslie's permission to blog about it. Leslie was motivated by seeing An Inconvenient Truth to think about a new way to help reduce global warming.

What I like about her idea is that it's both simple and clever at the same time. The idea is to cover portions of the Arctic Ocean with removable, reflective covers: sort of an artificial icecap. One of the problems we've seen is the unfortunate feedback loop of loss of polar ice packs, which leads to more open ocean instead of ice cover which leads to more heat absorbed from the sun, which results in more loss of polar ice cover. map of polar ice extent in the 1950s and projected into the 2050s
The panels interlock somewhat alike to a jigsaw, and there's secret sauce and magic in the materials. But, I don't need to know about that part (and if I did I couldn't share it).

I've seen very elaborate projects to reduce the amount of sunlight on the earth. As a space nut, I've been interested in ideas to put up mirrors in orbit to reduce solar radiation hitting the earth by 1 or 2 percent. I'm guessing that Ice911 is likely to be cheaper, and easier to reverse if there are unintended consequences.

My guess is that we'll need lots of different approaches to the climate crisis that range from reducing energy usage to countering warming. I'm looking forward to seeing if Ice911 is going to be a valuable piece of the puzzle!

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