Friday, May 30, 2008
"Life in polar cities, future fact or fiction?" by Rachel Chan, CNA, China Post
"Life in polar cities, future fact or fiction?"
by Rachel Chan, CNA, Taipei
China Post, English newspaper in Taiwan
Saturday, May 31, 3008
Photo credit: Courtesy of Deng Cheng-hong
Life in polar cities, a foreseeable future or fiction?
Virtual polar city causes concern about climate changes on Internet
By Rachel Chan
CNA staff reporter
[Central News Agency, semi-government news agency in Taiwan]
Taipei, Taiwan -- Not a conjecture or a theory, climate change is with
us. With the future unfolding before our eyes, more humans could end
up living in polar regions as they might be a last resort with
tolerable temperatures should there be a mass human die-off due to the
impact of global warming.
Although to most people it is no more based on fact than a sci-fi
movie synopsis, one Taiwanese artist and an American teaching English
in Taiwan have teamed up to visualize the idea of a possible future
world -- "polar cities" or " sustainable polar retreats (SPRs) " -- in
three-dimensional illustrations, to call for the public's attention to
After two months of pondering over the SPR idea, Deng Cheng-hong, a
visual designer living in Chiayi, southern Taiwan, put American
expatriate Dan Bloom's imagination into a series of three-dimensional
illustrations using computer software.
One 26-year-old in Tahiti blogged on the polar cities Web site set
up by Bloom, saying that he was so touched by the pictures that he
wants to work harder to stop global warming, starting now.
Deng, who professes to be "the first person in the world" to make
these images about what the future might look like, said that as
global warming is an "inconvenient truth" that humans are forced to
face, he hopes his illustrations can serve as an alarm bell.
"The idea is so clear that it actually only took me one week to
come up with the illustrations, " Deng said. "I hope this will give
people a clearer idea of what polar cities could be and get their
attention to do something about global warming."
Working with Deng, Bloom has been blogging about the concept of
polar cities for a long time. He said the idea of polar cities are a
possible adaptation strategy for survivors of global warming in the
far distant future -- perhaps the year 2500, according to him.
Bloom said his "crazy idea" was inspired by acclaimed British
scientist and environmentalist James Lovelock, who has done pioneering
work on global warming issues.
Writing in the British newspaper The Independent in January 2006,
Lovelock argued that as a result of global warming "billions of us
will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in
the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable" by the end of the 21st
Bloom said polar cities are designed to house humans in the future,
in the event that global warming causes the central and middle regions
of the Earth to become uninhabitable for a long period of time.
"I feel this is a wake up call about today rather than the future," he said.
Bloom admitted that his proposal is no more than a "what if"
scenario, but said he wanted to make people aware of the issue of
"I'm not talking about the end of the world and I don't want young
people to feel hopeless, " he said. "I'm talking about in case of
emergency, people can survive in polar cities and maybe come back to
live in other parts of the Earth later."
Describing Deng as "a genius and hero" for putting his concepts
into visual illustrations, Bloom said he was energized by Deng's work,
which has become his tool to communicate around the world.
"I do not want to scare people. They might well call this science
fiction, but they can look at the pictures and make up their minds
slowly, " he said, adding that polar cities are an idea of emergency
shelter that can be built anywhere in the world -- such as England,
Iceland, Greenland or Norway -- and not necessarily in polar regions.
"It is not about money or promotion or trying to become famous,
it's not for me. It's about we are trying to do something to help
people in the future work to make a better world, " according to
Bloom, who added that this is also a long-term work that takes
everyone's effort to push it further.
"I hope to attract a team of designers and scientists to continue
work on the idea for generations, " Bloom said, urging anyone
interested in the concept to visit http://polarcitymuseum.blogspot.com,
a Web site he created for Deng.
Deng said that "many people know that global warming is true and I
think my illustrations of the polar cities can help to them to do
POLAR CITIES BLUEPRINTS: