The Soviets Wanted To Dam The Pacific And Melt The Arctic

By Nolan Moore on Saturday, January 18, 2014
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“But as crazy as I am, my crazy plans work!” —Kathy Loop, Short Story Collection #1

In A Nutshell

During the Cold War, Russia wanted to get at the massive reservoirs of petroleum in the Arctic and Siberia, but all that ice was getting in the way. So Soviet scientist Petr Mikhailovich Borisov came up with a crazy idea to help the Motherland. He wanted to build a dam from Russia to Alaska in order to reverse the world’s oceans and melt the Arctic.

The Whole Bushel

Vladimir Lenin once wrote that men should become “masters of nature,” and during the Cold War, the Soviets did their best to follow his instructions. While we usually associate the Nazis with bizarre schemes, the Soviets had their own wacky plots, one of which was so insane that had it worked, it would’ve screwed up the entire planet. In their quest to conquer the elements, the Soviet Union seriously thought about reversing the oceans and melting the Arctic.

Russia has a reputation for being a bit chilly. In 2013, 63 percent of the country was covered in permafrost, and all that ice and snow made things pretty complicated for the Soviet government back in the 1960s. Anxious to beat America in the war for global dominance, the Russians wanted to get at the huge amounts of petroleum in the Arctic and Siberia. Those natural resources would have been a huge boost for their economy, but all that ice was getting in the way. It was then a scientist by the name of Petr Mikhailovich Borisov proposed a totally outlandish idea.

Borisov was a respected scientist, the winner of the Stalin Prize, but his plot sounded like something straight out of a comic book. He wanted to build a gigantic dam stretching all the way from Russia to Alaska. This mega-wall would float on concrete pontoons that were 60 meters (200 ft) below the waves, and the dam would even be equipped with massive propellers that would reroute the planet’s largest ocean. Borisov’s plan was to keep the Pacific out of the Arctic Circle thus allowing the warm Gulf Stream to wind its way up from Florida and melt all the ice. Then presto! No more Arctic, no more ice, and plenty of petroleum for Mother Russia. This guy would’ve made a great Bond villain.

Today, we chuckle at the idea of a humongous dam reversing the world’s currents, but shockingly, world leaders gave it serious consideration for a while. The Russians really wanted to get at that petroleum but knew they couldn’t do it alone. Borisov believed the dam would be an excellent opportunity for the world’s countries to work together and perhaps a way to end the Cold War. He wanted the USSR to team up with Canada, Japan, Northern Europe, and the United States, and together these countries would make the world a much more tropical place. And for a while, several key politicians were considering Russia’s proposal. Even a young senator by the name of John F. Kennedy thought the plan was worth looking into.

Obviously, Borisov’s dam was never built. Most scientists didn’t think the wall would even work, and it’s probably a good thing it never happened. If the Soviet scheme had been successful, we’d be living in a very different world today. Borisov was a dreamer, but he never really stopped to think about how his dam might affect the world in the long run. Let’s hope today’s scientists are a little more cautious when it comes to altering the balance of the planet.

Show Me The Proof

Smithsonian: Russia’s Cold War Plan to Reverse the Ocean and Melt the Arctic
The Soviet Scientist Who Dreamed of Melting the Arctic with a 55 Mile Dam

  • Rijul Ballal

    Well at least he wanted to end the cold war…

  • rincewind

    As far as I can see, the only insane part of this plan is expecting the co-operation of other nations during the cold war.

  • Lee Ferguson

    Would you rather have a glacier, or a palm tree in your front yard?

    • Guest

      Right now in Australia we have had nearly a week of temperatures ranging between 105f – 112f (40 – 46c) with no respite. There are bushfires burning out of control in most states. Give me the iceberg!

      • Lisa 39

        You have my sympathy, where i live we’ve hit 104° in the summer but our record low in the winter is -20° without the wind chill.

    • norse of Melbourne

      Right now in Australia we have had temperatures ranging between 105f – 112f (40 – 46c) Adelaide with a top of 46 on Thursday was one of the hottest places in the world. We are enduring a heatwave that is breaking century old records.
      There are bushfires burning out of control in most states. Give me the glacier! =S

      • Franky

        Adelaide would have been nice, it was 51 in Pacific Pines on the gold coast and it topped 57 out at the grandparents farm in inverell :0

  • Nathaniel A.

    It warmed my heat to see that he wanted the world’s countries to work together.

  • edzyl blane

    So what would actually happen if the soviet’s plan worked?

    • randomanon90

      Atlantis wouldn’t be so special.

    • Ian Moone

      Basically there would have been mass flooding, most of Europe would no longer exist, and billions of people would have died. But hey, Russia would have oil.

  • edzyl blane

    wait… America helping the Soviets improve their economy so that they can destroy america and rule the world ?

  • jihadbob

    I think if ideas like this(maybe not as nuts) would have worked then we wouldn’t have worried for another 30 years of nuclear nilanation If we could of maybe just said lets help each other instead communist bad, capitalism bad. But what does some dumbass american know about the cold war…?

  • SensiblePerson

    We are slowly destroying this beautiful planet for our greed for money and oil, imagine how terrible it would be if the Earth ran out of oil reserves- oh wait, there is already a documentary on that http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSfOPkSAILI