Category Archives: Climate change

Mongolia to Trial Natural Air Con

The capital city of Mongolia, Ulan Bator, is planning to stay cool in the hot and humid summer months by ignoring air conditioning in favour of creating an enormous artificial urban glacier. An interesting plan indeed, if somewhat a little strange!

It has been reported that the capital city of the country will try to capture some of the very cool winter temperatures in enormous ice blocks that will slowly melt over the summer, and then cool the city. The aim is to build artificial ice shields, known as “naleds”, that will occur naturally in climates in far northern areas of the globe. Naleds can also grow to be over seven metres thick. That sure is one giant block of ice!

Furthermore, they grow when the river water pushes through cracks in the surface of the ice during the day, and then freezes at night time, and thus creates an extra layer of ice.

ECOS & EMI, a Mongolian engineering consortium, is set to attempt to replicate this process by drilling several bore holes into the ice that is currently forming over the Tuul River. This process will be repeated again and again throughout the winter months in order to thicken the ice considerably.

It is interesting to note that the North Korean military used naleds to build river crossings for tanks during the winter, and Russia has also previously used them as drilling platforms. However, engineers normally see them as a threat to railways and bridges. So it is not all positive news surrounding naleds.

The Anglo-Mongolian firm believes that their proposed use in Ulan Bator may set a positive example that will allow northern cities around the world to save on summer air conditioning costs, regulate drinking supplies, and create cool microclimates.

A Mongolian based geologist, Robin Grayson, has stated: “Everyone is panicking about melting glaciers and icecaps, but nobody has yet found a cheap, environmentally friendly alternative. If you know how to manipulate them, naled ice shields can repair permafrost and build cool parks in cities.”

A naled is thought to work in a climate where the winter months dip to as low as somewhere between -5˚C and -20˚C and where the summer months are unbearably hot. However, there is yet to be any proof that such a plan could work, and, evidently they will not be possible in a climate such as the one we have here in Great Britain, and it is therefore expected that sales of air conditioning units will likely remain the same, if not increase, in the UK next year.

Climate Change Vs Nuclear Power

Since Japan’s recent earthquake and tsunami, nuclear power plants appear to be a topic of discussion. According to the Guardian online newspaper, the nuclear industry can ‘offer no guarantee against a repeat of Japan’s disaster’.

Nuclear power currently provides 6% of the world’s energy, there have been ongoing debates about whether this source of energy is sustainable; some people believe nuclear power poses a threat to people and the environment.

At present, Japanese authorities are concerned with the state of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and are battling to reduce the risks of radiation. An evacuation zone has been imposed and all residents have been told to stay indoors. These steps could help reduce the risk of radiation on human health.
The Fukushima Daiichi plant was overwhelmed by the tsunami, causing an explosion, leading to radiation disaster. Some say perhaps the early generations of nuclear plant design are to be looked at to prevent damage happening again or should the blame be placed on the strong earthquake? Either way, it would appear trust in nuclear power has certainly decreased with the threat climate change poses.