We may need tens of millions of greenhouses

“If indeed the next little ice age or big ice age is beginning, massive areas of land will become too cold for agriculture.” – Ray Kraft


We may need tens of millions of greenhouses

By Ray Kraft

Assuming that we are now in the transition from the warm Holocene interglacial to the next era of glacial advance, the next ice age, mini- or major, it is plausible to assume that we will need all the energy we can get from all sources including solar – wind – nuclear – to sustain an industrial / technological economy for the next few thousands or tens of thousands of years, since our supply of oil and gas is probably not enough to sustain current product for more than another 30-40 years according to British Petroleum.

The last ice age lasted about 75,000 years, and some anthropologists think the sustained severe cold reduced the human population to fewer than 10,000 people.

If indeed the next little ice age or big ice age is beginning, massive areas of land will become too cold for agriculture – like Russia, Ukraine, Canada – we can expect social, political, demographic disruptions like nothing experienced in all of human history before now.

If the next ice age is more or less like the last, vast areas of entire continents will become covered in glaciers and ice sheets, sea level will slowly fall by 400 feet or so, leaving most of the world’s seaports miles away from water.

We may need to build tens of millions of acres of heated greenhouses to feed North America.


24 thoughts on “We may need tens of millions of greenhouses”

  1. and what about the cost of transporting goods to\from England, Europe, and S. America due to the incursion of the ice packs.

    • That will probably not be an issue, with the exception of South America, which will hopefully be the least affected. In a major minimum, you can pretty much write off most of Europe, in a minor minimum, yeah, we would probably do for the what we could. What really gets me is this author suggests we should build millions of greenhouses to counter the effect of the glaciers. Glaciers that move. Glaciers that move all over our continent. Where TF are we supposed to build these greenhouses that the glaciers will not destroy them?

      • What would a floating greenhouse look like? How many of them would we need? Think about just the maintenance needs for altitude all being easily obtainable from the air.

  2. History emphasizes war and conquest as the major causes of civilizations collapsing and empires falling. There are two more that are equally important, if not more so:

    Wearing out the topsoil, causing agriculture to fail.

    Climate change, especially cooling, that causes agriculture to fail.

    Modern civilizations are not immune to either, despite what they like to boast, and believe.

    • Also, as happened in the 6th century, the start of the dark ages caused by a volcanic winter, the collapse of empires and the masses searching for food and clean water. People weakened by lack of food, clean water and reasonably decent sanitation soon succumbed to what would once have been considered reasonably preventable illnesses!
      We watch major disasters whether natural or man made around the world and few stop to think could that happen where i live?
      There are enough disaster movies and tv series that show how even the most rational person may behave to save themselves and their families.
      I doubt that this coming period of cooling will be any different to 1500 years ago. Times change, people don’t!

  3. Hey Look folks, this is really getting old. The “next ice age” is BS and it is past time mislabeling things this way. It is the “NEXT GLACIATION” that is upcoming. We are still smack right in the middle of an ice age that has been with us for over 2.5m years already.

    Come on, lets get not only our facts, but our language, straight. Its the “Next Glaciation”, Dammit!

  4. and the energy to make the products to build the greenhouses is from?
    fossil fuels;-)
    worst case would see huge influxes to tropical zones
    same time those same areas would become the best spots to be growing food.
    as for transporting out of seasonal foods etc
    that might have to stop
    not a bad thing either.

  5. We’ll need wind and hail resistant greenhouses if the jet-stream is to kick towards the Equator during pulses of the solar wind. They’ll also need to shed heavy snowfall so a flexible geodesic dome or tunnel tent arrangement might be better than conventional wall and roof rigid structure as in the picture above.

  6. Cost in $$$ and resources to build those greenhouses would be enormous. Would it be realistic to think that all of our grain crops could be grown in greenhouses? The grasses–which include all of the cereals grains, corn, and rice–are foundational to our civilization. Don’t know how you could grow all of these under glass.

    On the other land, if sea levels drop by 400 feet, should expose lots of new land for farming.

  7. Petroleum industries wants to keep prices high. They scare the public with statments; “supply of oil and gas is probably not enough to sustain current product for more than another 30-40 years” . I worked in the oil business. We have so much oil, coal and the biggie natural gas that is untapped or unused, that our production could go on for 500-700 years. They burn off natural gas because its cheaper than to produce. I agree its going to be colder, but they can drill anywhere. North Slope for example and remember North Slope only has a ten year supply of oil. They said that back in 1975. Exploration will increase as the need get larger. Think of all the new areas that will be exposed with a 400′ drop in sea level? New energy supplies and minerals? It’s not the end. We will become more creative. That’s what humans do. This comment is about what British Petroleum said.

    • Exactly – according to the peak oil scaremongers the world ran out of hydrocarbon energy supplies sometime around 2000 – the same time all the computers went berserk due to the millennium bug and stole all our savings.

      If the hydrocarbons we “mine” from the Earth are truly “fossil” fuels where does all the CO2 from volcanic venting come from ?

      After all it was spewing forth into the primordial atmosphere long before the first trees or animals appeared.

      I personally believe that Tommy Gold, a friend of Freeman Dyson, was right – hydrocarbons could be formed in the Earth’s crust and any evidence of “fossil” fuels is because lifeforms were buried in the bituminous tar traps during catastrophic tectonic events. It is possible !

      Life has been sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere not increasing it – all the geologic evidence says so.

  8. I imagine during the transition between warm and cold we will see massive storms with large hail and high wind.

  9. There is enough coal to last at least a century after the oil & natural gas runs out, then there is methane hydrate. By then Nuclear Fusion should be working or civilization will have to scale back considerably.

  10. If the sea level falls there will be more (new) land …. but whether this will be is habitable is another matter

  11. We survived in the past with much less understanding of our environment.
    Nuclear energy, nitrate fertilizer, hybridized crops etc etc.
    We’ll be just fine.
    Though the AGW folks are gonna be awfully put out.

  12. It’s also possible to use a portion of private houses and apartments that are already heated and lighted in cold weather to grow some food all year. Surprising what an indoor container garden can yield.

  13. Two other major issues not mentioned associated with glacial periods is major drought, and significantly reduced Co2 levels. The world as a whole was much drier during the last glacial period, even though a few small spots had more precipitation. These two things will further compound the problem of agriculture – it’s not just the bad weather, the cold, and then later, the ice.

  14. Not counting the poles themselves which have iced over cyclically for eons ice sheets did once cover the planet during an “ice age” their glaciers reaching even to the equator but the geological record shows this happened ……….. just once.
    A one off event, unexplained.

  15. There are former semiconductor factories in Japan that produce 10,000 heads of lettuce a day using just 1% of the water normally used.


    Greenhouses don’t have to have glass. They can be built in concrete buildings. What is required is lots of energy. LFTR for that and we will survive.

    They also use 40% less power and 80% less food waste (along with the 99% less water) in 25,000 square feet.

    The only saving grace about a resumption of glaciation (yes those who say we never left the “ice age” are correct) is that it is gradual. Coming out of a glaciation is like a rocket but going back in is like a downhill ski run.

  16. The greenhouse in the picture is very expensive with a large volume of unused space. Simple hoop houses will be useful in a lot of places.

  17. Row crop farming in the US will be much reduced, replaced by cold-hardy grasses and cold-hardy cattle. Once again huge herds of bison may roam the Great Plains.

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