Thursday, January 3, 2008

When Stephen Leahy, an independent Canadian reporter working for the worldwide IPS news agency, wrote an article about my concept of "polar cities" -- published on January 2, 2008 -- HERE: -- I felt that the headline his editors gave the story was very apt for a blog about the pilgrim's progress of this idea (whose time has certainly not come and will not come for a very long time yet). So here it is: Northward Ho!

Are we really headed north as global warming hots up the planet? You decide. Meanwhile, be entertained by this blogger's note and quotes, and in addition to entertainment, if you find anything educational or inspirational here in terms of your own life and how it relates to climate change and global warming, by all means, welcome aboard!

I have no idea if we are really headed north. I am just toying with an interesting idea, and of course, I got the inspiration for it from Sir James Lovelock. I don't know if he is really a "sir" yet, but he certainly should be one. I think he's already been knighted by Gaia, so it doesn't really matter. Long live James Lovelock!

Meanwhile, on with the story. After being interviewed by phone and email by Stephen Leahy back in October -- and I approached him, not vice versa -- after finding some of his articles online and tracing back to his homepage and email address, his article finally came out on the IPS website. It's a good article, the first print article ever written about polar cities.

Has anyone read the article? I have no idea how many page reads it has gotten, but I suspect that very few people have seen the story? There was one blog about it at a peak oil blogsite, and Stephen's own website has a link to it, too. But that's about all.

Still, big oaks from little acorns grow, and all that, so it's a good beginning for a very small idea, and as it grows, let's see how things work out. The main goal, just so you know, is not to begin construction of polar cities now, but to raise awareness about all the other important issues related to climate change and global warming. In this sense, the poloar cities idea is an alarm bell, to sound the alarm, to ring the alarm, to wake people up to the seriousness of the long emergency that we are surely in. You might call my idea, as Brad Arnold told me in an email, a non-threatening thought experiment. Thank you, Brad, for that terminology. I am using in all the interviews I do now.

I sent the IPS article out to about 100 people, most of them scientists in the field, and am awaiting their comments. One professor in Washington state emailed me and said:

"Good work. Getting the word out is crucial. I am curious about a few things re: polar cities. First, I wonder about the time scale you are projecting. Is 2500 picked because conditions by then will be totally intolerable anywhere but the poles?

My concern is that the impacts of climate change are going to hit us much sooner (indeed already are) and will become drastic in exponential time due to the feedbacks Lovelock is concerned with. I will be amazed if we don't see a large-scale abandonment of the lower latitudes by 2100 (of course I won't be here to see it!)

[BTW: I have projected a "green belt" from roughly 40 degrees north to 65 degrees north as being the habitable zone due to desertification to the south and tundra melting to the north. I suspect that by 2100 that will be the only reasonably habitable zone on the planet. It will likely not include much of the Russian inland due to the east-west orientation of the continent. But the northern US and southern Canada and central Europe should be tolerable with adequate adaptation.]

Second, WRT: that abandonment comes climate refugees flocking northward in hoardes. What clashes will ensue as they try to share what remaining resources with the residents? What resource wars will we see? How could these polar cities be protected against those hoardes?

Third, energy. Unless sustainable fusion is developed soon, I fear the energy needed to sustain these cities will be problematic. Fission has its problems (not just waste products) that are almost as technically difficult as fusion!

These are just a few things to think about.

My ark notion is not thought out but it occurs to me that such things are going to be needed. My main concern is that we preserve a genetic strain of humanity that emphasizes wisdom (not mere intelligence) as functionally obtained by the relative size and density of the prefrontal cortex in the brain. There are very few people in this world with the genetics for wisdom (which is why we are in this mess to begin with!) Those people need to be encouraged to reproduce disproportionatly with the rest of the population and that won't be hard to do if they are protected in arks while the rest of us are selected against by the climatic calamities to come!

I know it sounds like eugenics, but it really isn't. It is natural evolution but we will simply recognize it and facilitate it. Not cause it. Anyway, those are some ideas to ruminate on. Regards to you and good luck fighting the good fight."

Readers, more comments welcome. Anytime. Any subject. Just click on the comment button below, and if you can't get in, send me a private email.

Added later: now, what's next? Well, a reporter at the New York Times has interviewed me by email and plans to post some comments about polar cities on his newspaper blog soon. I think he will also show his readers some images, or one image, of what these polar cities might look like, just an artist's blueprint-style conception. Of course, polar cities won't look like this, but it's a good beginning:

And after the New York Times blog item is posted online, with I imagine lots of pro and con comments coming in, word will spread more and more, and maybe one day in 2008 or 2009 a reporter from the AP or Reuters news service will come calling for a quote or two, in a balanced story about polar cities, pro and con. With quotes from experts in the field, too. If they dare go public with their comments. I know experts who have already told me they are willing to speak out on this issue, both pro and con. That's all I want -- a good open discussion of where we might be headed, in the far distant (and not so distant) future.

A newspaper in Alaska has also told me by email that they are considering a news story about polar cities, since I am envisioned three polar cities located in Alaska -- one in Anchorage, one is Fairbanks and one in Juneau, all on high ground, maybe built inside mountain caves like those fallout shelters in Huntsville, Alabama that the Homeland Security people are working on. The Alaska newspaper story could be a very good one since the University of Alaska in Fairbanks (UAF) has some very good scientists studying the important issues of global warming and sea ice melting. And the International Polar Year is being observed at UAF this year, so there might be some good quotes from the experts in Alaska who are at the forefront of the climate change debate. We shall see.

The way I see this Northward Ho! blog evolving is like this: step by step, newspaper article by newspaper article, we gain traction, we gain validity, validation, and slowly, year by year, more people chime in about polar cities and what they might be used for and when and how. But again, this is really all about becoming aware of the seriousness of global warming now, and taking steps in our own individual and collective lives to change our habits and take actions that will help mitigate the problem.

Adaptation comes later. Way later. And that's what polar cities are for: future adaptation.

Question: Do you think it's too early to even discuss polar cities now? What's your take on this, pro or con?

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