Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Polar cities dubbed "Lovelock retreats" in honor of James Lovelock

Polar cities are now being dubbed "Lovelock retreats" in honor of James Lovelock, who has said that in the future human populations will likely be reduced greatly by global warming and only "breeding pairs in the Arctic" will keep the human species going. This is where the idea of polar cities germinated from.

Now, after blogging about polar cities for almost two years, and getting just a little digital ink here and there, mostly in the blogosphere (and almost nothing in the mainstream media) I have decided to dub polar cities as "Lovelock Retreats" in honor of James Lovelock, and also to help reporters and editors and readers understand better that these so-called polar cities at NOT at the poles per se, but merely in northern areas of the world; some Lovelock retreats might be situated in Colorado, Switzerland and Britain, in fact. New Zealand and Tasmania, too. Patagonia, too. None at the North Pole because the North Pole will be underwater (or is that under water?).

At any rate, remember the new term: LOVELOCK RETREATS. May they help preserve the human spirit, and the human species, in the far distant future, IF WE NEED THEM. Let's hope we never need them. Remember, this is all a "just in case" scenario. A "what if" scenario.

Here's a timeline for Lovelock Retreats:

2008-2050 : business as usual; meetings, conferences, talk talk talk

2050 - 2080 : preparations finally get underway

2100 : first mass migrations to Alaska, Canada, Iceland, Greenland, Russia, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Britain, Tasmani, New Zealand, Patagonia begin

2200 : second wave of mass migrations bring more people north from India, Africa, Asia and the Americas -- and south to Tasmania and New Zealand

2300 : World Government Body (WGB) set up first officially sanctioned polar cities for breeding pairs in the Arctic, also known as Lovelock Cities

2400 : major climate disasters worldwide with scarce food, fuel, power, and other resources (coupled with overpopulation) begin reducing world population from 9 billion people to 1 billion people

2500 : world population declines to just 200,000 "breeding pairs" in the Arctic (and southern extremes as well, including Antarctica) in 100 to 30 Lovelock Retreats situated in those regions and administered and governed by the World Government Body or some such entity, perhaps the IPCC. [Mad Max conditions outside these Lovelock Retreats, aka polar cities, last for 1000 years... until 3500]

4500 : The human species has made it through the Great Interruption, intact but greatly reduced in numbers. Full recovery possible beginning in 4500. Hope springs eternal.

Note A: children born in Lovelock Cities (aka Polar Cities) are mixed DNA humans of combined Caucasian-Asian-African-Hispanic-Arab stock, creating a new "race" on Earth

Note B: a new religious perspective develops before, during and after the Great Interruption to help humans cope with and understand what has happened to them



DF noted on his blog in 2007:

"We badly need ways of thinking about the implications of climate change. Most of what’s written gets hung up on the uncertainties of the science. If we don’t know, and we don’t, whether temperatures will increase by one or two or four degrees how can we prepare? The answer is scenario planning. In scenario planning, a method pioneered by Shell, we focus on the uncertainties, not on forecasts, and use these to define a set of possible scenarios. If we get this right the actual events will follow one scenario or, more likely, fall between several scenarios. But in any case we’ll have considered what we can and should do before we have to do it. Climate change is a long-term problem so let’s look at the long-term – 2050. On that timescale little is certain but there are two big uncertainties. The first uncertainty is the temperature increase. The global temperature is currently 0.6 degrees higher than that in the pre-industrial period. By 2050 we will know whether we’ve managed to keep the increase below two degrees. That’s hardly risk-free but it should be manageable. If we haven’t then we’ll already be aware of the positive feedback effects that will drive the temperature to a four or even six degree increase. (Some models suggest that rises over ten degrees are possible but let’s not go overboard; four degrees is bad enough.) (The environmental consequences of various possible temperatures have been discussed by Mark Lynas in Six degrees. Prof. James Lovelock has discussed the positive feedback effects in The Revenge of Gaia.) The second uncertainty is the degree of international collaboration on dealing with climate change. The Montreal treaty on CFCs showed that international collaboration is possible. The post-Kyoto experience shows that it’s very hard to get when it requires significant economic sacrifices. However, sentiment is already changing and a recent survey of business executives by McKinsey showed significant concern about climate change. Action now seems likely. The real uncertainty is whether governments will commit to enough change soon enough to avoid triggering the positive feedbacks. Now we combine the two to get our scenarios. I ignore the possibility that we can keep the temperature increase below two degrees without international collaboration because it’s impossible (unless the scientific consensus is badly wrong).[Photo]
Scenario 1: Lifeboat In this scenario the nations do collaborate soon enough to restrain CO2 emissions and the increase is kept below two degrees. I call this the Lifeboat scenario since it requires that every state recognises that we are all in the same boat and that its resources are barely adequate. In his book Heat George Monbiot has described the technology changes that will be needed to realise the Lifeboat scenario in the UK. He believes that the UK and developed European nations can retain their standard of living (except for flying) by making an extensive set of changes to our industrial base. Most of this is plausible but almost every part is challenging. His conclusion requires that we meet every one of these challenges and this seems very optimistic. We will need to do more either by cutting our standard of living or by reducing our numbers. The key assumption for this scenario is that the nations collaborate but this collaboration will not be easy. As with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) there will be disputes and we will need a World Climate Authority (WCA), analogous to the World Trade Organisation, to deal with them. The WCA will have, at minimum, to issue emissions permits and to check that actual emissions do not exceed these permissions. It will have to impose sanctions against defaulters. These sanctions will have to be backed by at least the threat of military force, though it’s unclear whether this will require a world police force. This scenario requires changes in production with fewer new products, more repair and recycling and longer product lifetimes. A significant cultural change will be needed which I’ll call green Puritanism. Green Puritans will disapprove of excessive consumption and travel and these attitudes will reinforce and be reinforced by laws against waste. Lifeboat will be different from our world but could be a good world to live in. is Scenario 2: Police World In scenario 2 the nations have begun to collaborate against climate change but not in time. By 2050 the temperature rise has already exceeded two degrees and major positive feedback effects are visible. Major habitat changes have already occurred, eg in the Sahara and Amazon basin, leading to a marked reduction in the Earth’s carrying capacity. An increase of at least four degrees is now certain. It’s clear that the Earth cannot support its current population and that existing human institutions cannot survive the huge population movements that these changes will provoke. In Collapse Jared Diamond has described a variety of precedents for social collapse due to overuse of natural resources. Once the inevitability of this collapse becomes clear the multinational bodies will shift their focus from mitigation to survival. They will therefore collaborate to ensure that some people and institutions survive. They will identify the territories remote from the equator where the prospects are best and then limit and direct migration into these refuges. The rest of the Earth will be progressively abandoned. Life in these refuges will be hard but life outside them will become literally impossible; most of those outside them will die. These deaths will be spread over many decades and will mainly be from starvation, though natural disasters and fighting will contribute. Resistance to the new world order will be severe but the multinational authorities will take large-scale military action to maintain the borders of the refuges. This scenario assumes that the multinational authorities succeed in maintaining law and order and an industrial base but this will be at the price of human rights and ordinary human compassion. The need for vigorous military action against those outside the refuges and direction of labour within them will lead to severe rationing of almost everything and a world-wide police state. Scenario 3: New Dark Age In this final scenario attempts to international collaboration have failed to prevent temperature rises and have broken down. As the value of those cold regions in which people will be able to survive becomes clear those nations with such regions will prepare their defences. The others will attempt to negotiate access to these regions. When this fails they will resort to war. Some large nations (eg Russia and Argentina) will include some refuge areas though not enough for their whole populations. Civil wars will result. As climate pressures increase (over a period of many decades) military power will become the dominant reality in human affairs. Political authority will give way to it. Jared Diamond’s Collapse shows examples of this breakdown. Repeated wars will inflict major damage on the very resources, both agricultural and industrial, that they are trying to control. Wars will also destroy much of humanity’s capacity to innovate, except in military matters, and to do or even understand science and the arts. A new global Dark Age will follow. The new Dark Age will doubtless last several centuries, during which the human population will fall to a fraction of its current level. The best that can be said of this scenario is that it need not last indefinitely. The Greek and later European Dark Ages both ended and were followed by the renaissance of culture and learning. Though we have not previously experienced either a global Dark Age or such abrupt climate change there is reason to hope that our descendants will ultimately be able to rebuild a civilization. Plausibility I’m aware that two of my scenarios may sound more like science fiction than sober reflection. However, these scenarios run forward from 2050 and much of today’s world would have seemed like science fiction to our grandparents. It’s almost impossible to overstate the impacts of four degrees of warming. It’s inconceivable, at least to me, that our civilization will be unchanged by these impacts and it’s time we took this seriously. I’ll return to the scenarios in greater depth in future posts.

-- posted by David Flint on 19-Nov-2007 on his CLimate Cassandra blog


David Flint left a comment on your post:

"When someone shouts fire everyone heads for the exits. Currently the IPCC has shouted fire several times but lots of people in the developed world don't really believe it.

Oh, they don't disbelieve it - they aren't deniers - but they just don't give it much priority. One day something will happen to capture their attention, probably a disaster, and then the stampede will start. I can't tell you the date but it will be years not centuries.

Here's the problem. Migration to polar cities will need major engineering projects - much bigger than the Space Shuttle. Will any nation be able to mount such a project when everyone who can is moving north?

It's already clear that the US can't control its southern border. The EU has the same problem.

What chance major investment when we can't even control the flow of people? "


An observer in California writes, re LOVELOCK CITIES term:

["Excellent idea...really a good thought. A tribute, and a reminder."]

He said it better than I could!


and another observer notes:

"What a wonderful idea, and a great tribute to one of the "brightest lights" on Earth."

Well said, Steve!

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A population bottleneck (or genetic bottleneck) is an evolutionary event in which a significant percentage of a population or species is killed or otherwise prevented from reproducing, and the population is reduced by 50% or more, often by several orders of magnitude.[1]

Population bottlenecks increase genetic drift, as the rate of drift is inversely proportional to the population size. They also increase inbreeding due to the reduced pool of possible mates (see small population size).

A slightly different sort of genetic bottleneck can occur if a small group becomes reproductively separated from the main population. This is called a founder effect.

Anonymous said...

response to polar cities / Lovelock cities idea:

"I often compare today's news and comments of the moment with that scene in "King of Hearts" when Alan Bates is trying to persuade the patients at the asylum to evacuate the town because the German army set expolosives in the town square and wired the detonation device to the nearby clock tower; when the clock strikes 12 the town will be destroyed.

Instead of heeding the warning, the inmates gather up their costumes and parade out to the square to have a front row seat of the coming disaster.

Now, we are being treated to an exclusive idea wherein the fortunate inmates all file up to a polar city to watch the Arctic Ocean ice cap, permafrost and glaciers melt before their eyes.

Help us all. We are being conned by dreamers and worse."

-- John McCormick

Anonymous said...

Better bring your own soil, seeds and sunlight with you. In other words a pretty piece of day-dreaming only.


Anonymous said...

The only consoling thought I can think of is that despite what happens over the next few hundred years, new ecosystems will eventually develop that will be able to easily cope with the change. Our planet has gone through cooling and warming changes before in the past, and these changes will happen again, with or without humans to accelerate the rate at which change would have otherwise occurred. It's sad that people living today in western countries probably have the highest quality of life of any humans who have ever lived, and one hundred years of climate change will see this quality decrease dramatically, perhaps permanently.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous on July 3, above: RE

"The only consoling thought I can think of is that despite what happens over the next few hundred years, new ecosystems will eventually develop that will be able to easily cope with the change. Our planet has gone through cooling and warming changes before in the past, and these changes will happen again, with or without humans to accelerate the rate at which change would have otherwise occurred. It's sad that people living today in western countries probably have the highest quality of life of any humans who have ever lived, and one hundred years of climate change will see this quality decrease dramatically, perhaps permanently."

YUP! THE Earth will survive okay, one way or another, but as for humankind, who knows what big changes are in store due to this coming global warming, beginning now and for the next 100-500 years. We are in deep doo doo. But yes, Earth will come out okay. Earth has another 5 billion years to go before the Sun loses power and turns the Earth into a dark cold barren lifeless place. But humans don't have that long. Our species might become extinct in 1000 years....it could happen.

Anonymous said...

British reporter Peter Foster, writing in his Telegraph blog today, says this: a good take on polar cities:


Peter Foster

[Peter Foster was the Daily Telegraph's South Asia Correspondent for four years until January 2008 when he moved to live at the bottom of the world with his wife and three small children. He reports on life in Takaka, a town of 1,182 people on the northern coast of South Island New Zealand, where he is writing a book about his experiences.]

Global warming and the arks of the 41st century

Global warming and the arks of the 41st century

Thursday, July 17, 4008, 09:45 AM GMT [General]

At the end of my last post, I suggested that the human race might be better advised to focus on fixing the consequences of global warming, rather than wasting precious time and G8 Summits talking about how to prevent the unpreventable.

What I had in mind was a mixture of science (freezing the DNA of as many species as possible, for example) and realpolitics, in which governments and global organizations start planning in earnest to deal with food shortages, flu pandemics, water wars and the mass migrations of peoples.

Uncertain times like those we live in naturally throw up all sorts of cults and cranks planning for the end of the world.

My former editor, Charles Moore, wrote recently about similar feelings during the height of the Cold War among those who were convinced the human race was on the edge of nuclear self-destruction.

Interestingly that bi-polar Cold War era which once seemed so fraught and fragile, now feels positively stable when compared to today's world where the old certainties are unraveling so spectacularly quickly. I wonder what we'll be worrying about in another 20 years?

Personally, I try to worry about the world's problems in chronological order - ie. today the credit crunches, petrol prices, job losses and falling stock markets and tomorrow the threat of conflict (economic and military) between the Western powers and Russia, China and Iran as we enter a new era dominated by the geopolitics of scarcity.

As a result, I find it harder to worry actively about the far-term consequences of catastrophic global warming some time in 3500 which is the subject of several emails I've been receiving lately from environmental catastrophists.

Among the best of these is from the proponents of something called ‘Lovelock Cities' - formerly ‘Polar Retreats', but now re-branded in the hope of making the idea sound more catchy.

The idea is that by 2500 the world population will be reduced to just 200,000 "breeding pairs" who will reside in between 30 and 100 special cities built in parts of the world that have escaped the rising waters.

Here people will live, inter-breeding frantically to create a new ‘race' of humanity that will emerge in the year 4500 after the ‘Great Interruption' to repopulate the world.

These people, "of combined Caucasian-Asian-African-Hispanic-Arab stock" will live free of racial considerations and imbued with a fresh and more respectful understanding of man's fragile contract with the planet. We can all hope, I suppose.

The retreats are named after (though not, I think, endorsed by) James Lovelock, the man who came up with Gaia hypothesis (the idea that the world is a self-regulating super-organism) and is now predicting that by 2100 some 80 per cent of the world's population will be wiped out in a great Malthusian apocalypse.

These ideas are as old as Noah and his ark, and personally I've got enough to worry about in 2008 - Can I afford to fill my car? Is my stock portfolio now worthless? Will I have a job next year? - to waste too much energy on how life might be in the year 2500 or 4500.

On the other hand, it is reassuring to see that at least one of these ‘Lovelock Retreats' is being earmarked for New Zealand. Might I respectfully suggest Golden Bay?


The important thing is Jim Hansen and his team's recent re-evaluation of a safe level CO2 in the atmopshere downwards to 350ppm. In other words, at 390ppm, we are already in gross overshoot and pumping way beyond what the planet can absorb, so the abrupt climate change event we have been warning about and dreading is almost certianly underway, bringing forward the meltdown of the planet by many decades.

That reality is unmentionable for a mainstream 'newspaper', I'm sure.



Anonymous said...

This is really silly! Lovelock believes the number of humans will go down to less than a billion during this century. If you believe the rest of this century will be about "business as usual" and "preparations" you really have not got the slightest idea about what the future will bring about!

Anonymous said...

You are dreaming to think New Zealand will be a refuge. Last summer temperatures were unbearable everywhere, and it was too hot to be outside during daylight hours - my observation after travelling from the north to the south. Nowhere will be safe, except the Arctic, I fear.

Anonymous said...

CDear Anon on July 25 2010

re "You are dreaming to think New Zealand will be a refuge. Last summer temperatures were unbearable everywhere, and it was too hot to be outside during daylight hours - my observation after travelling from the north to the south. Nowhere will be safe, except the Arctic, I fear."

You may be right, i agree. Antarctica and north Canada and Alaska north Russia, north Greenland, right. I do agree. We will need polar cities, er, polar villages there for the few survivors, do you agree? email me offline in Taiwan at danbloom AT gmail Dot COM