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All this talk about greening the desert has got me thinking...  RSS feed

 
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All this talk about greening the desert has got me thinking...

What’s everyone’s opinion on greening the “Ice” there’s plenty of land up north and down south that most people wouldn’t want to bother moving too. Would be a nice peaceful place!

What would you do? Could you create micro climates to increase the temp?

Thought it might be a good discussion whilst I read all my books on permaculture
 
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It is always possible to create microclimates.  That, in my thinking, is one of the primary functions of permcultural design.  In some designs you will be creating a climate that provides cooling, in others for heating, and others for dealing with wind or other variables.  This is all going to be based on the specific needs of the people in relation to the given landscape/part of the planet.

As far as greening the Northern and Southern extremities of the planet:   The further you go toward the poles, the shorter the days (to the point that the sun doesn't rise at all) in the winter, the shorter the growing season, et cetera as winter is longer than summer.  You do have long days in the summer (to the point that the sun does not set at all) but there are limits to what your plants can handle in the form of the low light and the cold of the long winter.

You can only do so much before your microclimate will need to be created artificially, such as greenhouses, and electric lighting in order to create the zone necessary.

While it is always possible, there are always limits to creating microclimates.  As an example:  Because of the abundant geothermal heat in Iceland, they have been able to produce bananas there, but it is an urban myth and false meme that they are the world's largest producer.  Due to the low level sunlight, the banana plants take two years to produce fruit, while near the Equator, the plants can fruit in a few months.  It is simply not cost-effective to produce certain crops in such extreme climatic situations while shipping is cheap (which may change as oil production becomes too costly to fuel the ships economically).  The only way beyond the fuel being too expensive to get banana's to Iceland is to increase the light artificially, but this clearly has a cost that may not make it worthwhile for some time to come.  In that case, new geothermal power technology for producing abundant electrical light economically might make the leap possible.  

While Iceland has the benefit of geothermal energy/heat, most extreme polar areas do not have this advantage.  This is not to say that micro-climates can not boost or change small local areas to benefit plants that would not be able to naturally occur there without such landscaping or microclimate infrastructure, there are bound to be limits that will be quickly apparent due to lack of sunlight, cold, and the short growing season.    
 
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james buttler wrote:What would you do? Could you create micro climates to increase the temp?  



Growing algae seems to be a new frontier in food production. So perhaps a combination of growing algae - polar sea water is usually high in nutrients, and, farming cold climate fish species: trout (fresh water) need races to breed, so a series of ponds connected by races.

I've seen trout farming in the Papua New Guinea Highlands, if they can grow them there, they can be bred anywhere!

It'd be bloody hard work but ideally, in a perfect world, it would be built near some thermal pools so I could soak the bones after a days labour AKA a Japanese onsen!
 
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There's a small 'farm' on svalbard that produces salad and quail eggs with grow lights and a heated geo dome. They seem to suggest in the few videos that have been done about them that they want helpers to make this project work but I know a dozen people who have offered to go and help them out and they have ignored every offer so I don't actually know that much about the operation or if it is scalable outside the father son and friend they seem to have working there to produce salad for svalbard restaurant.
But it is a form of greening the ice.

I think that greening the ice may be fairly anti Permaculture though as the albido effect requires as much in inturrupted white reflective ice as possible to help prevent as much warming of the earth so surely we should focus on greening areas that naturally could be green such as areas that humans have made desert via monoculture etc. REgreening if you will?
 
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If the ice is melting anyways, it's going to green or brown, so why not influence it?

In terms of the areas that are most likely to turn into grasslands, I would look to pleistocene rewilding. Animal grazing and trampling activity actually has the potential to slow the loss of permafrost, and cycling organic matter from grasses to excrement and back will add layers atop that. Plus, I want someplace impressive and suitable for when people start introducing Woolly Mammothphants into the wild.

I would also look at where the treeline is creeping north, and I would look to adapting stretches of it for beavers. They are a keystone species for the creation of freshwater aquatic habitats where there exists only boreal desert.

I would likewise look at the whole of the boreal desert (some call it forest, but I like my forests with a little more biodiversity and a little less fire-trappiness) for conversion to beaver habitat. The more moisture held in the biosphere, the more potential for life, and the more moisture held in the environment, the more drawn out changes in temperature are. So yeah, it will take an extra two weeks to warm up in the spring, but the growing season regionally will be two weeks longer, and will increase in length somewhat as the thermal inertia builds.

I would be concerned about activities that actively speed global warming, but if the ice melts, the surface albeido is already compromised. Hell, if we're talking about seasonal ice replacing ancient sea ice pack, we've already lost that battle, as seasonal ice has a lower albeido than the ancient stuff we can't replace. Better to enhance the ability of the newly melted terrain to capture and store carbon, either in new grasslands complete with grassland fauna, or in forests so dammed up by beavers that one can canoe from each ocean to the other with minimally short portages.

-CK
 
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james buttler wrote:All this talk about greening the desert has got me thinking...

What’s everyone’s opinion on greening the “Ice” there’s plenty of land up north and down south that most people wouldn’t want to bother moving too. Would be a nice peaceful place!

What would you do? Could you create micro climates to increase the temp?

Thought it might be a good discussion whilst I read all my books on permaculture



I'm going to call this a terrible idea, and I'll give the reasons for my doing so.

First the idea of creating a situation that melts more polar type ice than is already being melted by the warming of earth's atmosphere is not only bad but catastrophic for all living things on earth (like Humans).

Weather patterns are already not only unstable but they are shifting the timing of the seasons.
Where I live we used to see cold weather (32 f and lower) for around 40 days and these started in November and ran through Feb. Now we are lucky to see 10 days of sub 32 f and these come at the end of January.

The significance of this is that insects experience no kill off from freezing temperatures so the next spring there is an explosion of insect life that only compounds the numbers since there was no kill off when there was supposed to be one, this leads to increasing populations of mosquitoes, ticks, lice, you name the bug, there are more of them every year now.

The Idea would mean the end of life as we now know it, but then for many years I've said that humans are idiots because they are killing the very planet that gave them life in the first place.

Redhawk
 
Chris Kott
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Well said.

Maybe instead we can get some of those snow making machines they use on ski hills, put them on boats around the melting ice, power them with solar and wind, and start piling the snow up atop the melting caps. I know it will have an inferior surface albeido, but it may act as an insulating blanket to slow polar melt. We'd only need, oh what, about 250,000 of them to make a dent.

I still like the idea of pleistocene rewilding, seeding beaver populations in critical areas of the boreal forest, and going on a canoe trip that touches three oceans, but I agree that deliberately warming the polar caps in any way is terrible foolishness.

-CK
 
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