Towing icebergs to be used for water in Middle East

Just fasten a geotextile belt around the iceberg (video), deploy a geotextile skirt to prevent melting, then tow that puppy thousands of miles using “bumps and holes”in the ocean to help out because a tug can’t possible handle the load.

Golly, what could possibly go wrong with this?

Well. some grumps in the comments opine that when icebergs melt then can flip over which could be a bit inconvenient. Plus, tugs in Arctic sometimes try to tow very small icebergs out of the way and end up getting towed by the iceberg. (sort of like a Nantucket sleighride!)

And do you think countries will stand by and let their icebergs be kidnapped by interlopers from elsewhere. I think not.


  • This is not a new idea. I remember as an apprentice in the shipyards we discussed this and one of the arguments put forward against it was that as the icebergs in the north Atlantic melt they have an effect on the temperature of the surrounding water. Remove them and you change the temperature of the Atlantic with catastrophic effects on climate. I was about 17/18 then, I’m now 77, so it has been around for a long time.

  • Pat Hartley

    I took my own advice from several weeks ago and have been reading Charles Fishman’s “The Big Thirst” — I recommend it highly to anyone who wants to think seriously about water, locally and globally.

    During a drought in Spain in 2008, the water department of Barcelona tried heroic measures including shipping water into the city by freighter to supplement a 35-mile emergency water pipeline being built down the median of the highway while waiting for a desalination plant to come online. Not only was it expensive, the amount of water delivered by ship was completely inadequate. The largest tanker carried 9.5 million gallons of water–a 62 minute supply for the metropolitan area of 5 million people.

    As the commenter above notes, towing icebergs to the Middle East isn’t a new idea–Australia and California have also considered it. The Alaska Department of Natural Resources is selling permits to collect glacier ice right now:

    Just who “owns” icebergs on the open sea would seem to be subject to interpretations of maritime law in areas like salvage. Consider the possible liability that could be incurred by a country claiming ownership of an iceberg outside its territorial waters. Not to mention liability for anyone trying to tow an iceberg that gets away. IANAL but I can certainly see how this topic could afford full-time employment for them that are…

    And that’s not even considering the ecological impacts.

  • Grigori Rho Gharveyn

    More practical method to tow:
    1) Excavate a huge ‘slip’ in the arctic circle.
    2) Install Engines in slip.
    3) Allow water to freeze around engines creating a giant powered ice barge.
    4) Launch Ice Barg and deliver.
    5) Recover Engines and reuse.

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