gardening

Crossing Antarctica

It was done over a century ago for the first time, and many times since.

Now it’s time to do something more down there. At least catch a hundred or so polar bears in the Arctic, and release them where no bear has gone before, on the shores of the Weddell sea. There they can eat seals and penguins, which is only a slightly different menu to the one they are used to.

It’s entirely possible that some polar bears would freeze in a somewhat colder place, but what can you do?

However this ecological project isn’t really what I have in mind. I just mentioned it as warm up.

There’s another extreme sport which can be played on Antarctica’s high plateau. You can put a working nuclear submarine there. Gradually, it will sink due to its thermal output and make a lake around itself. Now the submarine can cautiously swim around there, a few meters back and forth. The nuclear reactors should melt about a cubic meter of ice per second. Soon the submarine would be deep under the ice surface, surrounded by a water bubble. Swimming slowly it could cross Antarctica this way. Even lake Vostok could be visited with a nuclear submarine on the way to the South sea!

I’m not particularly enthusiastic about this either, but it could be done.

What I am all about, is snow mining. Near and around the South pole that is. You can’t just melt it, because that’s too energy intensive. For digging it up as if it were sand however, you don’t need a lot of energy. A clever way of mining ice makes the energy input almost negligible.

Once dug out, you put the ice on to a kind of a magnetic conveyor belt, which drives the freshly excavated snow to the ocean, several kilometers down and thousands of kilometers away. The conveyor belt is a neodymium magnetic railway. It does not require energy because it produces it in the process of electromagnetically breaking the shuttle’s descent. Eventually the snow is deposited into the ocean. In case of bad weather, we may imagine this transportation route inside a tunnel bellow the surface of the ice.

The energy produced this way is then transported via the HVDC (High Voltage Direct Current) cables to the end users around the world. We are talking about a large linear motor/generator here, powered by the snow and ice flowing down into the ocean.

The energy reserves in Antarctica’s ice are equivalent to at least the amount of oil used worldwide in 300 years at the current consumption rate. For the first 100 years however, Greenland should do just fine – even cables could be much shorter since America and Europe are close by.

The Greens should appreciate it greatly, for at least four reasons:

  1. low carbon emissions
  2. no radioactivity involved
  3. cooling the now overheated polar ocean
  4. I even give up the colonization of Antarctica with polar bears, if the Greens agree to ice mining
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