A firm in Abu Dhabi wants to tow an iceberg from Antarctica to Abu Dhabi. A promotional video released by the company suggests bringing the iceberg to the U.A.E. as means of fresh water procurement with an added bonus of spectacle. The video, complete with penguins and polar bears riding atop the iceberg, hints at the country’s rapidly depleting water reserves, which experts say will be gone within 15 years.
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Bringing icebergs from cold climates to warmer mid-latitude regions is not a new idea, but this unlikely solution to water-scarcity by one Abu Dhabi firm comes at a critical time in the United Arab Emirate’s history. The country faces complete depletion of its water resources within two decades. The UN estimates that within those two decades, more than 600 million children worldwide will live in regions facing extreme water scarcity - this challenge is not faced alone. Human settlements the world over are facing extreme water scarcity and asymmetrical hydrological cycles, forcing them to invest in one or more of these solutions:
1) Reduction in use and better recycling of water (Water use per capita in the UAE is currently 80% above the global average.)
2) Import of water
3) Desalination technology upgrades
4) Resettlement of population
The other major question here is the impact of towing icebergs on marine life and sea level rise. The displacement of significant amounts of ice will affect sea temperatures, affecting marine habitats and food chains, and potentially escalating sea level rise. An increase in traffic to the poles to retrieve ice will also have impacts in terms of emissions, pollution and further disruption to marine life.