Geoengineering Lunacy – Sea Walls and Volcano Bases for Polar Geoengineering

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Scientists have proposed pumping brine to refrigerate the bases of glaciers from a nearby volcano lair, and vast Arctic and Antarctic seawalls to prevent warm water from coming into contact with polar ice. But they are worried abundant sea ice might pose engineering challenges.

Geoengineer polar glaciers to slow sea-level rise

John C. Moore,

Rupert Gladstone,

Thomas Zwinger &

Michael Wolovick

If nothing is done, 0.5–5% of the world’s population will be flooded each year after 2100. For example, a 0.5-metre rise in Guangzhou, China, would displace more than 1 million people; a 2-metre rise would affect more than 2 million. Without coastal protection, the global cost of damages could reach US$50 trillion a year. Sea walls and flood defences cost tens of billions of dollars a year to construct and maintain.

To stimulate discussion, we explore three ways to delay the loss of ice sheets.

1. Block warm water

A 100-metre-high wall with sloping sides of 15–45° could be built across the 5-kilometre fjord in front of Jakobshavn glacier by dredging around 0.1 cubic kilometres of gravel and sand from Greenland’s continental shelf (see ‘Glacial geoengineering’). This artificial embankment, or berm, could be clad in concrete to stop it being eroded. The scale of the berm would be comparable with large civil-engineering projects. For example, ten times more material — 1 cubic kilometre — was excavated to build the Suez Canal. Hong Kong’s airport required around 0.3 cubic kilometres of landfill. The Three Gorges Dam used 0.028 cubic kilometres of cast concrete.

2. Support ice shelves

One solution is to artificially pin the ice shelves in front of the two glaciers by constructing berms and islands, extended from outcrops or built on the sea floor. For example, the shelf buttressing Pine Island Glacier could be jammed by a berm located on Jenkins Ridge, a high point on the sea bed below the glacier. We estimate that this would require around 6 cubic kilometres of material, or 60 times more than would be needed to plug the Jakobshavn fjord. Relatively small artificial islands in other places — reaching up 300 metres from the sea bed — would require 0.1 cubic kilometres of material each. A large berm (10–50 cubic kilometres) in the open bay could prevent warmer waters from entering.

Material could be shipped to Antarctica from elsewhere in the world, or dredged or quarried locally. But it would be difficult in practice for engineers to work around the ice shelves, which grow and shrink as the glaciers, sheets and conditions fluctuate. Sea ice would also get in the way. Technologies might need to be developed to operate beneath floating ice. Major disturbances to local ecosystems would be expected and would require thorough assessment before and after pinning.

3. Dry subglacial streams

Deeper subglacial water in Antarctica is under pressure and should drain to the ocean without pumping. It could also be frozen by circulating cooled brines beneath the 10-metre-thick layer of sediment scoured at the glacier’s base. The Pine Island Glacier might be reached through the nearby volcanic outcrops of the Hudson Mountains. These lie within 80 kilometres of the glacier and the coast, and would be a good base for research into the sub-glacial environment and ice shelves. Again, the costs of such projects appear comparable to those of other large energy and civil-engineering works.

Read more:

I admire the imagination – adding a Dr. Evil volcano base to the third solution was pure comedy genius. But I can’t help thinking there might be better ways of spending public money than initiating vast civil works projects in Antarctica and Greenland to protect a bit of ice.

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Alastair Brickell
March 18, 2018 11:15 pm

Is it April 1 already?

Bryan A
Reply to  Alastair Brickell
March 19, 2018 12:29 pm

I like the #2 solution (#2 might be apropos) build a berm using 50 cubic kilometers of imported materials. How much water would be displaced (hint..nearly 50 cubic kilometers) and how would that impact sea levels?

Reply to  Alastair Brickell
March 19, 2018 3:19 pm

Come on you fellas has your BS meter got flat batteries? Even if they are flat the BS meter should still be clanging.
Any time some w*nker proposes anything to do with geoengineering I shudder because it is plainly obvious their arrogance has fare exceeded their ignorance.

dodgy geezer
March 18, 2018 11:43 pm

I remember that US think-tanks proposed several geo-engineering solytions to stave off the expected ice-age during the 1970s. One idea was the creation of a giant lake in Africa, another was dusting the Poles with soot – and a third was a giant wall to re-direct the Gulf Stream away from the North…
WHat goes around comes around. I assume that the plan for the wall was pushed by the big cement companies. I wonder if the managers’ grandchildren are dusting off the proposals their grandfathers made even as we speak…?

March 18, 2018 11:53 pm

Who funds there idiots? Rhetorical question – we all know the taxpayer has no choice when it comes to how his hard-earned money is wasted.

Reply to  Phillip Bratby
March 19, 2018 12:06 am

*Raising hand* I’m sorry, they don’t even bother to tax me, but just loan from abroad. It doesn’t make any difference which incarnation of the available socialist or communist parties I’d vote. They really didn’t read their Ayn Rand. But they do tell me I hate Jews. Sigh.

March 18, 2018 11:53 pm

If nothing is done, 0.5–5% of the world’s population will be flooded each year after 2100.

I rip my hair when reading bullshit like this.
If nothing is done by 2100, my roof will be leaking and probably the basement will be flooding. I suggest though, that you use these options.
First, stop panicking. You’ll be dead before 2100.
Second, just rip down this cottage. I have paid most of it, I’m sure my children will want to build their own.
Third, if you insist, you can fix the house. It takes something like 30 units of money per day.
In no occasion try to geoengineer (well the Netherlands is an exception). It will cost hugely, and, sorry to say, you will -still- need to choose at least two of the options above. Vanitas.

Reply to  Hugs
March 19, 2018 12:22 am

To clarify: Naturally we and our children will do ‘something’.
What that something is? Something efficient. Efficient means work is not wasted. The amount of work done and the results of that work will be the measure. A grandieuse plan to round Antarctica with unprecedented walls would be unprecedented waste and we’d then still need to work again with New Orleans, Bangladesh, etc.

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  Hugs
March 19, 2018 7:36 am

The Netherlands is not an exception. They are not geo-engineering. They are keeping their homes warm and dry. I rising seas do start to flood New York and Miami, we will build sea walls to protect our investments there. On the Jersey Shore, we will move to higher ground.

Reply to  Walter Sobchak
March 19, 2018 8:56 am

Thank you, Walter.
In this modern socialist and statist environment, folks have forgotten what we humans learned and acted upon over 10,000 years, and in the U.S. during the Dust Bowl years, and the Irish did when the potato problem became untenable. It is simple.
Good grief, “if you can’t stand the heat/cold/water…… MOVE!
Gums opines…….

March 18, 2018 11:59 pm

And just when you thought these idiot had run out of ways to waste money.

Reply to  Old44
March 19, 2018 5:36 am

Idiots never run out of ways to waste money. They are highly creative at it.

Reply to  Graemethecat
March 19, 2018 7:11 am

It’s impossible to idiot proof your products. The idiots are smarter than you think.

Bryan A
Reply to  Graemethecat
March 19, 2018 12:31 pm

It is also apparently impossible to idiot proof the federal governments of the world.

Reply to  Graemethecat
March 20, 2018 7:57 am

federal or feral?

Steve Case
March 19, 2018 12:36 am

Geoengineering proposals to combat “Climate Change” are entirely without merit.

James Bull
Reply to  Steve Case
March 19, 2018 2:27 am

Just the same as their plans to power the world with windmills and sunshine.
James Bull

Reply to  Steve Case
March 19, 2018 5:57 am

Agreed, it’s all for nix if you don’t plug all those volcano things, they’re freakin’ CO2 and water vapor factories.

March 19, 2018 2:33 am

Maybe before we take extreme measures we should do a bit of due diligence, for example an experiment that proves that CO2 back-radiation warms a laboratory atmosphere? The experiment that should have been done long ago?

Reply to  Don132
March 19, 2018 3:05 am

No need, Nature performs that experiment every day, and in the real world not a laboratory.
CO2 is uniform around the world, 24 hours a day. Right?
So how come in a desert you fry by day and freeze by night?
Try that quiz on a few warmists and see how they like it.

Reply to  LevelGaze
March 19, 2018 3:36 am

We need an actual controlled experiment that proves that CO2 warms an atmosphere as claimed. A warmist would come up with all sort of reasons why we’d fry in a desert by day and freeze by night despite CO2 continually rising– and they could very well be right because a desert isn’t a controlled experiment.

Reply to  LevelGaze
March 19, 2018 11:45 am

“So how come in a desert you fry by day and freeze by night?”
Because a desert is dry, there is no water to turn to vapor to cool air by day (that’s plants doing), and no vapor water to turn back into liquid to warm by night.
Opposite at sea, hence the temperature stability.
Because (bis) a desert is dry, meaning the dry lapse rate apply, not the wet lapse rate.
Because (ter) a desert is plant free, while plants eat up tens of watts / m² to turn it into chemical energy, they release most of it at night

Reply to  Don132
March 19, 2018 11:34 am

Already done by Robert W. Wood in 1909 (not sure of the year), and redone since.
Just doesn’t work: an IR opaque glass doesn’t warm a box more than an IR-transparent does.
Done with gas, too. That’s even worse: CO2 having higher thermal capacity, lowers the temperature.
Notice that insulating glazing does NOT use some close to free CO2 greenhouse gas, but Argon (a non GHG). AFAIK because Argon have lower thermal capacity, hence lower convection and conduction loss.

Reply to  paqyfelyc
March 21, 2018 3:48 am

Well said paqyfelyc
Your first reply points out that water vapour totally trumps the effect that any CO2 warming (probably none) might have.
Trillions gone in an insane fantasy. The madness of the masses indeed.

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
March 19, 2018 2:35 am

Up to FIVE per cent of the world’s population could be displaced each year starting in 2100. Is this really a serious assertion or have I lost the power to add up and gone totally senile – that means a fifth of the world’s people theoretically displaced in four years?
Someone has gone totally barking and needs a very long holiday with kind people in white coats providing 24 hour care and soft plastic cutlery for meals. I hope it’s not me.

Reply to  Moderately Cross of East Anglia
March 19, 2018 6:58 am

That would also lead to 100% of the Population displaced after 20 years.
I assume to floating scrap islands and old oil tankers. Where’s Kevin Costner when we need him.

Reply to  Moderately Cross of East Anglia
March 19, 2018 11:39 am

Ask some military families about moving every few years.
My service was about a big move every 3 or 4 years, and some small moves for training for the new assignment. The popular stat was 20% of us moved every year, hence the overall stat.
I have zero sympathy for the folks that refuse to move. OTOH! I enjoy watching the folks on reality TV that adapt and rebuild and stay where they were born and raised. From a family like that, I understand – figure Gulf coast.
Gums opines…

charles nelson
March 19, 2018 3:37 am

And then they knocked over the Bong.

Bruce Cobb
March 19, 2018 5:12 am

I believe that part of the impetus for these wild geoengineering schemes is to propose them as the alternative to all the other garbage the Warmunists propose, like “carbon” taxes and mandating more and more “green” energy. The goal is for people to reject these ideas, so they can then say, “well then, like it or not, we must do all this other stuff instead”.

March 19, 2018 5:20 am


John Bell
March 19, 2018 5:30 am

I love how their “solutions” always involve needing to use lots of fossil fuels to do it.

March 19, 2018 5:35 am

We must keep things in perspective.
Capt. Nemo, commanding the super submarine Nautilus had it based at a secret hideout cave under a volcano. The hideout was presumably somewhere in the tropical pacific. (No matter that the cave sequences were filmed in a cave in Jamaica.) An Antarctic Super Secret Base would be outstanding.
Dr. Evil wanted nothing more than LASER equipped sharks. Totally reasonable
These proposals are well within ideas which have come before.

michael hart
March 19, 2018 6:20 am

I’ll admit this one is great laugh. It’s up there with the worst of them.
But don’t forget the one about covering Antarctica with wind turbines for power to aid freezing CO2 out of the atmosphere to store in Antarctica. Or was that two separate schemes? Whatever, that set a new benchmark in geoengineering stupidity.

Reply to  michael hart
March 19, 2018 10:04 am

At least penguins don’t fly. But the flying pigs may be endangered by the turbines..

March 19, 2018 7:48 am

Wow, what could possibly go wrong?!?

March 19, 2018 8:19 am

I first saw this reported in the Guardian:
..with a zero level of sceptism from the article author and many of the usual AGW-faithful commenters below.
The AGW-faithful will believe and defend ANY climate ‘science’ article, story or paper, however ridiculous.

March 19, 2018 10:06 am

Is this proposal a Monty Python style parody? I sure hope so.

David Hoopman
March 19, 2018 10:19 am

I continue to believe the greatest danger to the future viability of life on this planet would be that we try some of these stunts and they actually do what they’re designed to do.

Jack Baugh
March 19, 2018 3:15 pm

Do you think they can accomplish these things without the use of fossil fuels?

Jonathan Griggs
March 19, 2018 3:59 pm

Has anyone thought of what a huge new island or wall in the middle of the ocean might do to the currents that sustain life through the rest of the world? The side effects of this cure would likely be worse than the current symptoms, even if you do believe in CAGW.

Mike McMillan
March 19, 2018 4:15 pm

Why just tinker with the problem? They should close the Drake Passage, reconnecting Chile and Antarctica, since that opening might have been what caused the Ice Ages. Or maybe open up Panama so we get circulation between the Atlantic and Pacific, since that closure might have caused the Ice Ages. And if one doesn’t work, try the other.

LOL@Klimate Katastrophe Kooks
March 19, 2018 6:34 pm

The hubristic arrogance of these Klimate Katastrophe Kooks is amazing… they actually believe the world should stay exactly as it is, and that people can’t simply take a step or two backward to get away from their purported sea level rise (nevermind that sea level rise has… erm, leveled out recently and actually fallen by 2.75 mm over the past two years… and should fall more as the expected cooling continues).
So they’re already making preparations for Paris Accord 2.0, which will cost much more than the 100 trillion US dollars of the first accord. I say the 1 billion US dollars the world is spending each and every day toward ‘preventing’ this fake climate ‘catastrophe’ would be much better spent elsewhere… like preparing the populace for a cooling world, given that it is cooling.
Of course, we all know where this is leading… they’ll eventually claim that since it’s not economically sustainable to do all their geoengineering to put the planet into permanent stasis, that humanity itself is not economically worthwhile, so we’ll just have to ‘sacrifice for the sake of the planet’ and submit to being culled.
To which I say, “You first. Lead by example.”
The world should be marching these morons to their doom shortly… any takers on how many people have to freeze to death before that starts happening?

March 20, 2018 7:43 am

This reminds me of an Aesop fable – Belling The Cat.
The moral of this story is, It is easy to propose impossible remedies.

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