As the world warms, capitalists are racing to capture valuable freshwater from melting icebergs. The harvested ice, used in products like bottled water and vodka, is marketed as purest water on the planet. Modern Farmer has dubbed it "the cold rush," and shares stories of some of the characters involved.
One of the more dubious characters in the game is Otto Spork, a dentist who started a bottled water company that supposedly sells fresh water from an Icelandic iceberg. A Canadian investigation revealed that the project was a scam and the venture collapsed, but not before Spork had bilked investors of $20 million.
Dutch businessman Guus Backelandt, on the other hand, is legitimate. He produces 50,000 bottles of Iceberg Water each year, and expects to double production in 2014. But extracting water is no easy task. Any iceberg harvesting scheme requires big boats, cranes and nets. The exorbitant costs are joined by difficult mechanical challenges that come with towing heavy bergs. But the technology is improving.
From Modern Farmer:
In the case of Iceberg Water, Backelandt’s colleague, Captain Ed Kean, scours Iceberg Alley in Newfoundland with a small crew, identifying possible icebergs to farm for the season, which can last between April and July. Of the hundreds of icebergs that pass through here annually, Captain Kean will usually harvest only two. He employs a variety of means to farm the icebergs, hacking and breaking them into pieces which are then hoisted onto his boat with a crane. In an average year, they process about a thousand tons of ice.
Is iceberg harvesting a viable solution for water shortage on a planet? Most water experts don't take it seriously, focusing instead on things like rainwater capture and desalination. But as demand for fresh water continues to rise, the practice will surely attract more attention. After all, the ice is melting anyway.
(via Fast Co.Exist)
Photo by Corey Arnold