Climate change is causing drought conditions in the United States. That’s bad.

Climate change is causing giant killer icebergs to break free and eventually melt, thus raising ocean levels. That’s bad.

The crackpot in me wonders if there’s some way to float those icebergs (made of fresh water) over to where the droughts are.

You assume this idea is economically impractical. But keep in mind that your budget for getting it done is “trillions of dollars” because that’s how much the economy will lose if we do nothing. So if you think you need a million tugboats to move each giant iceberg, don’t assume that’s out of the budget.

Ideally, you’d want to get those icebergs near the head end of a giant (wait for it) canal system that snakes through the drought-riddled United States. That way much of the iceberg water can be directed to the water tables below parched land before it reaches the warmer sea and raises sea level.

What? You say that canal system would be too expensive? Remember you have trillions of dollars to work with now because the do-nothing alternative is more expensive.

Let’s see some creativity, people. How can we get the fresh water out of those icebergs and into our sinks without raising sea levels?


[Update: Thanks to HelloWorldo for this link to a plan for floating icebergs to Saudi Arabia.]


Scott Adams

Co-founder of CalendarTree.com

Imagine if everyone read this book except you. How sad would you be?


Rank Up Rank Down Votes:  +25
  • Print
  • Share


Sort By:
May 16, 2014
Droughts have been going on long before there was enough manmade pollution to have an effect on anything. They are a natural variation in weather patterns. Blaming them on global warming is just part of the trend of blaming everything on global warming in order to convince people that we need higher taxes and more crushing regulations on industry.
(See http://whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/globalwarming2.html and other similar lists.)

In particular, the drought conditions in California of late are due to governmental policy of redirecting water to elsewhere:
May 16, 2014
This is analogous to the "give a man a fish" parable. It doesn't address the underlying cause, assuming as others are arguing (and I'm staying away from), that humans are capable of addressing the underlying cause.
May 16, 2014
- OR -

Ship it like they do most other liquids.

1) Dehydrate it on-site.
2) Ship the concentrated water. (because it's cheaper that way)
3) Re-hydrate it when you get it to the desert.
May 16, 2014
Equip a boat or barge with a large grinder in front (similar to a snow blower, but bigger and grindier). The patent-not-yet-pending HelloWorldo Iceberg Grinder chunks the ice onto a large conveyer belt which processes the chunks into barrel sized containers (or tanker sized... or a refrigerated unit). The idea is to process the ice in place into manageable storage for shipping.

Make your checks payable to "HelloWorldo of Tennessee".

And let it be known that I just coined the word "grindier".
0 Rank Up Rank Down
May 16, 2014
To begin, let just bring the water down from Canada and Alaska. Canals, Pipe Lines, trucking, trains. One the other end, do like Israeli and invent a massive drip watering system.

Secondly, what about desalinating sea water via massive solar technology. You build these giant oil rig line platform that utilize mirrors and solar panels and you boil the water. In amongst these boiling fields, you have wind turbines that blow the clouds towards land.

May 16, 2014
It is raining here in eastern Pennsylvania. Flash floods warnings today (Friday).

You want some of this water? Come and get it. Take all you want.
May 16, 2014
I read your book and loved it. A lot of humor but with good information. You have accomplished a lot even with set back.
I too have spasmodic dysphonia and am a founding board member of National Spasmodic Dysphonia Association. We appreciate how you are helping to education people about this voice disorder of how we get the wrong message from the brain that causes the vocal cords to catch or stay open and we have strained or weak voice. I am delighted that the operation has restores your voice. We hope you will join us at NSDA symposiums so we can meet and talk with you. Keep on with all your good work, Dot from Greensboro, NC
+11 Rank Up Rank Down
May 16, 2014
Does the water from melting icebergs belong to the US?
May 16, 2014
Best way to get it there? Through the sky in things called "clouds".

Reducing fossil fuel usage would cost less than trillions of dollars and you wouldn't have to dig up the entire country.

What's lacking isn't money, it's political cojones.

The other problem is that the country is mostly run by oil/gas tycoons who are happy to see the rest of the population go to hell, so long as they have their mountain-top mansions and yachts full of cocaine/hookers. They have enough money to deal with people who try to disrupt their lifestyle.

May 16, 2014
so you grab an iceberg, before it melts, move it to wherever and melt it into reservoirs. then you use it.

where does it go then?

it goes back into the water cycle and ends up in the sea anyway, rising the sea level by the same amount as if you had just let it melt.

why not just let it melt into the sea and spend the money on saline purification plants instead?
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
May 16, 2014
For that kind of money it's probably easier to use desalination at the US coast instead of transporting ice bergs there.
May 15, 2014
Assumes facts not in evidence, councilor. As a matter of fact, assumes facts that are not facts.

The Antarctic sea ice hit a 35-year record high in September, 2013. As usual, climate alarmists had an explanation. They said that Antarctic LAND ice was dropping like flies, so just ignore that pesky increase in Antarctic SEA ice. Sure.

The climate change fanatics ignore reality. The total increase in temperature for the last 17 years is zero point one one degrees C. That's within the statistical margin for error.

So what to the climate alarmists say? They point to droughts, and say that droughts could only happen if man has impacted the climate negatively. Droughts, in their mind, never happened before man started producing carbon dioxide. Never had one before. Golly gee. That ol' Dust Bowl of the '30's was an aberration, but THIS drought, well, it's ALL OUR FAULT!!!!!!

I remember a 1985 Richard Prior movie called "Brewster's Millions," where a man has to spend $30,000,000 in 30 days to get an inheritance of $300,000,000. One of the wacky schemes he invests in to try to get rid of the money is someone who wants to tow icebergs to some drought-stricken place.

Scott, I know you are BSing us on this one. You say, "But keep in mind that your budget for getting it done is “trillions of dollars” because that’s how much the economy will lose if we do nothing."

Only one problem (no, actually, many, but this is a big one): trillions of dollars don't grow on trees. Dollars have to come from somewhere. Should we shut down the economy to fund your pipe dream based on what you think is causing droughts? Or should we auction off Nevada, or Alaska, to fund your ridiculous vision based on junk science?

In 1970, the big fear was global cooling. A new ice age was approaching, the "experts" told us, and unless the governments of the earth took drastic action, billions of people would die of starvation within two decades. Now, it's global warming. Oh, wait, since the earth hasn't warmed, it's climated change. Oh, wait, since none of the dire results the "experts" predicted have come to pass, it's "climate disruption."

So define it any way you want. If there are more hurricanes, it's climate disruption caused by man. If there are less hurricanes, it's climate disruption caused by man. If there's a drought here and a flood there, it's climate disruption caused by man.

Give me a break. This is just recycled communists trying to take your money and control your life using the climate as an excuse. Wake up, folks. This is pure, unadulterated BS. Whether the climate panderers say it's all man's fault or not, it's no more than a shaman telling you that earthquakes are caused by not sacrificing enough virgins to the god of the underworld.

Start to use some critical thinking. Don't just go along with the crowd. There's nothing to be gained from this kind of BS other than losing your money and your freedom.

[I'm totally with you on the lack of credibility on this and most other topics. But why would I think your credibility, or that of your sources, is better? Second, why does it matter what the cause of the climate change is? Droughts still need to be addressed one way or another. -- Scott]
May 15, 2014
Kingfisher, there are no facts. Not mine, and not your's. While I agree that 4 degrees would only amount to about 3 meters, that's also what the general prediction of sea level rise is for most "studies". Furthermore, a mere 4 degrees isn't enough heat to melt the Southern ice shelf. Sure, the climate is changing, because it's always changing; but the evidence that it's due to CO2 levels is pathetic. I was once a Green when I was a younger man, then I was challenged by my (scientist) father to check the data for myself, as best as I was able as a teen. It was all BS, it's always been BS. It's all based upon politics and the natural human fear of the unknown. Even if the 4 degrees in a century prediction is correct, the rise of the ocean would be so slow that pretty much anyone could simply migrate to higher ground by walking. The real science of the 'greenhouse effect' predicts that any such average rise would not effect all places the same; as already warm places (near the equator) would suffer a less than 0.1 degree increase while extreme latitudes would experience closer to a 7 degree change. Such a change would be trivial in the tropics, but open up Siberia and the Northern Territories of Canada to expanded agriculture; so "global warming" (whatever the cause) is as likely to be a net boon for humanity as it is likely to be a net harm. Bear in mind, that grape vines for wine production were possible and fairly common in Britain about 500 years ago, and that fossilized tree stumps have been found under the permafrost in the Canadian Northern Territories. This planet isn't nearly as warm as it has been in the past, so we have a long way to go before some catastrophic actually occurs. And on that note, think about this little tibit; if burning fossil fuels cause global climate change by releasing trapped CO2, and the fossil fuels come from ancient decomposed plantlife, where did the plants get the CO2? The Earth is a closed system after all.
May 15, 2014
I think the trick might be to move the farms to the water not the water to the farms.

In South Australia at the moment there is a pilot program where they "appear to have pulled off the ultimate something-from-nothing agricultural feat – using the sun to desalinate seawater for irrigation and to heat and cool greenhouses as required, and thence cheaply grow high-quality, pesticide-free vegetables year-round in commercial !$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*! many of these could be built for a trillion dollars?

May 15, 2014
I'm not sure where you are getting your facts, but the volume increase from the thermal expansion of water would be very, very small. Say the temperature of the oceans were to rise by a catastrophic 4 degrees Celsius; the change in volume due to thermal expansion would be less than 0.1%, and would result in a sea level rise of less than 3 meters.
Conversely, the melting of the Greenland ice shelf by itself would raise the water level by nearly 8 meters. Dumping the Antarctic ice shelf into it would result in a rise of nearly 60 meters.
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
May 15, 2014
Here in southern California, they have already begun the process of getting desalinization plants going. That's a roundabout way of getting the iceberg water here. The icebergs melt, and we take the water out, only thousands of miles away. Less expensive too.

But here's another idea... the northwest and Midwest seem to get drowned out every year, so, why not pump that water to the So Cal water reservoirs. I mean they're pumping oil across the continent, why not water?
May 15, 2014
If global warming is such a big problem, why don't we instead use these giant icebergs to cool the earth?

There. Problem solved.

You're welcome.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
May 15, 2014
That's one of the (many) reasons I don't believe the climate catastrophe BS. If it was really an impending catastrophe (and not just a reason to reward some connected businessmen and punish other industries run by people who aren't Politically Popular Right Now) then we would actually be <i>doing something</i> rather than just talking about how terrible it will be in 10 years. (Which is what we have been saying for 40 years running.)
May 15, 2014
Don't forget about the Texas-size "Pacific Ocean trash vortex" of floating plastic bottles. If we can lasso those bottles with a bunch of tugboats and bring them into the vicinity of the giant iceberg (6 times the size of Manhattan I've read), then they'd bob around and fill up with fresh water.

Now comes the tough part -- putting the caps on. I figure we could genetically engineer krill to turn clockwise when they mate. Or vacationers could cap the bottles. Vacationers who are sick of the hot weather and want to rent a nice iceboat for a few weeks, gliding up and down giant glacier, sightseeing, communing with the penguins and throwing snowballs and stuff.

They could cap a few thousand bottles in exchange for rental on the iceboat. But then comes the tough part -- bottled water cannot be taken onto the flight home.

[You had me at krill. -- Scott]

May 15, 2014
Will Von Wizzlepig, desalination (no matter how it's accomplished) is an incrediblely energy intensive process; but so would be towing an iceburg 1000 miles. A giant water pumping station to push water from the Mississippi River basin over the Rockies might be less energy intensive, if the Mississippi River didn't occasionally have drought issues itself. I'd love a link to that billboard in Lima, if you have it.
Get the new Dilbert app!
Old Dilbert Blog