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Solving Environmental Problems
Anytime we do anything, it has environmental consequences. Even doing nothing has environmental consequences. The consequences of doing nothing in this area include increased human deaths, poor health, and wider spread water borne illnesses. It includes the perpetuation of cycles of poverty.
Icebergs are calving or falling into the water and then floating around as shipping hazards while they melt.
Most environmental consequences of towing them are in general felt to be pretty minimal and certainly subject to mitigation. Studies are ongoing and more is needed to be as responsible as possible. It is felt there may be some localized fog for a period of time in certain coastal areas where you would park or moor an iceberg. Studies for the effects of the life that attaches to the underside of an iceberg are ongoing, as are studies on the temperature effects in the area near an iceberg, although these are generally at this point felt to be pretty minimal.
This is sustainable we believe – ice is continuing to form in the interior of Antarctica with each winter’s snowfall and katabatic storms. The data is mixed as to whether the ice sheets in Antarctica are expanding or contracting and at what rates. It is variable. In any event, calving is ongoing (it appears at an increasing rate) and the resource is falling into the ocean in substantial quantities regardless of what we may or may not do.
The environmental issues surrounding icebergs have been getting increasing research attention over the last 7 or 8 years. Oceans have been found, in a study published in 2004, to absorb half of all man-made carbon dioxide. In a study co-authored by Christopher Sabine a geophysicist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and based in Seattle, Washington, the first of his two studies indicated the dissolved carbine dioxide produced adverse effects for marine life. In the second, related study, scientists say the sink effect is now changing ocean chemistry. These resulting changes have slowed growth of plankton, corals, and other invertebrates that serve s the most basic level of the ocean food chain. In 2004, the scientists indicated the impacts on marine life could be severe. So, while helpful to humans in removing this carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, there are potential consequences for the biology and ecosystem structure of the oceans. The studies were announced by John Pickrell for National Geographic News in describing the next day’s edition of the research journal Science. See http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/07/0715_040715_oceancarbon.html.
Approximately twenty notable articles pertaining to Antarctic icebergs are available in a June, 2011, special issue of Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography. The articles are listed in our Technical Information - Technical Section – Appendix D and can be ordered from the publisher by the link provided.
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