Dire Straits; Let’s Talk Arctic Restoration

Flat World Partners
4 min readDec 14, 2020

About | Mission | Blog

Amidst pandemic, forest fires, and economic collapse, some problems may not be as intractable as we think. Arctic Ice Restoration could be a solution just in time if we support it.

The Arctic Ice Sheet is the primary driver of the earth’s ability to reflect sunlight back to space. Arctic ice loss since 1990 has been alarming. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Arctic Report Card states that the thickest, most reflective part of the ice shield has declined by 95%. At this rate, the region could be ice free in summers by 2030.

The Arctic Ice Project is conducting research on highly reflective silicon dioxide or “silica”. These chemically unreactive, hydrophilic, floatable and perfectly spherical microspheres can help newer, thinner ice be more reflective like the older, thicker ice which is now gone. The Earth’s crust is 59% silica, is the main constituent in most rocks and is the primary constituent of sand. Animals and humans have co-evolved with silica. Once dispersed in limited, strategic locations, the hollow microspheres increase sea ice albedo. The material breaks down to become part of the ocean — less than 0.000004% potential addition to the amount of silica already present in the ocean.

We can ask our regional and national leaders to create a collaborative neutral facility for objectively vetting projects like this for their safety and efficacy. We can sponsor third party research that helps to fully clear this kind of solution to move beyond the demonstration phase. We can also directly support this women-led project with dollars. The global pandemic has largely shut off normal access to funding for this kind of work right when it is most needed. Dr. Leslie Field, mother of two sons, CTO and founder of the Arctic Ice Project (formerly Ice911) is working against the clock. It is her job to ensure the efficacy and safety of her invention. Donations will help expand her fieldwork, the team’s climate modeling, ecotoxicology testing, and outreach capabilities.

Heather Langsner, Head of Impact

The Trump administration said in late August it will open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. Call your senators about this.

The Ocean-Climate Alliance was recently formed to bring together the work of many disparate research projects around the idea of restoring the oceans and using them toward climate restoration. Might there also be a coalition like this for arctic restoration and can there be a UN based neutral facility to vet these projects?

Here is some recommended reading: This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein.

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