A Lifetime’s Dream
The idea of exploiting icebergs to produce fresh water is not new, and goes back to the 1950s with research projects by the US Army. It gained momentum in the 1970s, notably under the influence of the famous French polar explorer Paul-Emile Victor, his friend and Arts et Métiers Engineer, Georges Mougin, and their meeting with the Saudi prince, Mohamed al-Faisal. The first international convention on the use of icebergs was organized in Iowa in 1977, attended by 200 renowned participants, including engineers, scientists, military personnel, officials and journalists.
But the technical obstacles are complex; experimentation required astronomical budgets and the technology did not yet exist. In the following years, the excitement died down and the scientists turned towards other, more realistic, less controversial and less costly projects.