Monday, July 21, 2008

Polar city researcher resides in Longmont, Colorado

Climate hideout
Polar city researcher resides in Longmont

By Charlie Angelo
Longmont Times-Call

— Joey Stanford is not a global warming expert. He’s not sure if it will threaten human life in the future. “I don’t know if it will happen or not, but it’s important to prepare,” he said.

Stanford, who works for a London-based computer company from his home in Longmont, is part of a team of volunteers working toward a survival plan in the event of extreme global warming in the future.

He is a leading researcher for the Polar Cities Research Project, serves as director of publications for the non-profit group and has volunteered to be a resident in the first polar city in the future.

According to, “Polar cities are proposed sustainable, high-population-density cities, to be built near the arctic rim, designed to house human beings 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.”

The Polar Cities Research Project was started in January 2007 by Danny Bloom, a climate blogger based in Taiwan who graduated from Tufts University in 1971.

Alaska, northern Canada, Norway, Iceland and Russia are potential sites for polar cities, Bloom said in a recent e-mail from his office in Taipei. The work of British scientist and author James Lovelock inspired the idea of polar cities, he said.

The Polar City Project is only an idea for now. Initially, according to Stanford, the team planned to have Model Polar City One built in Longyearbyen, Norway, by 2010.
Because of myriad design questions and a lack of major investors, however, it’s not likely to be built until after 2020, according to Stanford.

“Right now, we’re trying to get a handle on what it would take to get this going,” he said.

Some of the logistical issues Stanford faces are food and water supply, fire suppression, the process of moving people into the structures and protection from polar bears.

“There are just so many aspects involved,” Stanford said. “Who would govern these polar cities, for instance?”

All of these unknown variables make it impossible to accurately predict the construction costs of a polar city at this point, he said.

Polar cities might never be built, Stanford acknowledged, but he said his research will still be valuable.

He sees a parallel between sustaining life in Earth’s polar regions and doing so on Mars.

“Even if they aren’t used to solve global warming,” he said, “these ideas are reusable for space missions.”

The Polar City Project is currently focused on increasing its exposure and finding funding, Stanford said.

“We’re using the worst-case scenario to drive research and encourage thought,” he said.


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