In a moment of missing the point akin to Zoolander’s “what is this, a center for ants?!”, Republican Delegate Candidate for Virginia Scott Pio recently ran an unconventional solution for rising sea levels up the flagpole: what if we just took all the boats out of the sea? The Tweet floating the idea has since been deleted but was fortunately immortalized by Raw Story and features a photo of shipping traffic.
Anyone who’s ever boldly stepped into a near-overflowing bath only to send a veritable tsunami of lavender-scented water cascading onto the floor will understand where Pio’s coming from with this one. If you think about it, the world’s oceans are sort of like a bath: an enormous, contained (within the planet) body of water that’s at risk of getting uncomfortably hot. So, why not get the rising levels down by removing all the toys?
While the suggestion on Pio’s part probably wasn’t as literal as The Internet has decided to take it, we at IFLScience love anyone who’s willing to theoretically run with a mad idea (remember the Great Chicken Slap Cook-Off?). Was there someone out there crazy enough to crunch the numbers on this idea?
Enter: XKCD comic creator, Randall Munroe. After taking into account the vastness of the Earth’s five oceans, and the comparative diddiness of the hundreds of thousands of boats they contain, Munroe concluded that plucking them all out would shave off around… drum roll please… 6 microns! That’s roughly the width of a thread of a spider’s silk and, I think you’ll agree, well worth halting global maritime trade for.
In case your computer screen isn’t visibly dripping with sarcasm, we’re of course being facetious. Munroe further concluded that this volume would be replaced in roughly 16 hours, based on current estimates of sea-level rise, demonstrating the futility of doing away with ships.
If not boats, then, what about fish. The oceans’ have got loads of fish, right? Munroe’s got your back there, too.
“Current fish wet biomass is about 2 billion tons, so removing them won’t make a dent either,” they wrote. “And what about the old joke about how much deeper the ocean would be without sponges? While estimates of sponge biomass are hard to come by, the answer is probably that if you removed all the sponges, sea level would drop by no more than a few microns ... and much less if you squeezed them out first.
Back to the drawing board everybody.