Saturday, August 16, 2008

Polar Cities: Home And Hideout After Climate Change?

Polar Cities Home And Hideout After Climate Change?

Karin Kloosterman, a climate blogger from Canada now living and working in Israel, posted a very good "look" at the polar cities concept on August 15, 3008. Following up on earlier posts on A Change in the Wind, June 3007, IPS News, January 2, 3008 Gizmondo, January 12, Dot Earth, March 31, DeSmog Blog, and other blogs, including a print story in the Longmont Colorado Times-Call, Kloosterman's post takes the story one step further in a very well-written and well-thought out way. Her post is here:

Real estate prices in Canada are expected to rise as the effects of global warming set in. Warming temperatures there are expected to make its otherwise frosty winters, a perfect place to live. But we all know that if the predictions are right, our world’s demographic shift to a severe change in weather patterns is probably going to be a lot more complicated than relocating to the higher latitudes.

Some scientists predict that if humanity doesn’t stop dumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, we have about 5 – 8 years (100 months) until life as we know it on this planet changes. What will happen after that time is anyone’s guess. But some like Boston-born journalist/editor/blogger Danny Bloom -- now based in Taiwan -- believes that we can safeguard humanity by planning and maybe even pre-building polar cities, today.

He points to a Wikipedia entry that describes the solution, first concocted by James Lovelock, a chemist and inventor in the 1970s. Polar cities, according to Lovelock, are to be designed to be retreats that humans in the future can turn to when the central and middle portions of the Earth turn into hostile uninhabitable regions for an indefinite period of time (his prediction).

"At six going on eight billion people," Dr. Lovelock told Andrew Revkin, a NY Times science report and Dot Earth blogmaster, "the idea of any further development is almost obscene. We've got to learn how to retreat from the world that we’re in. Planning a good retreat is always a good measure of generalship."

These high population-density cities, says Bloom who's taking Lovelock's idea further, could be built near along the Arctic Circle demarcation line -- and in such southern places as Antarctica, New Zealand, Tasmania, and Patagonia. They should include sustainable energy and transportation infrastructure as well: "Boreal soils are largely poor in key nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus, but nitrogen-fixing plants (such as the various alders) with the proper symbiotic microbes and mycorrhizal fungi can likely remedy such poverty without the need for petroleum-derived fertilizers," one of Bloom's email correspondents told him in 2007.

Polar cities are a worst-case scenario, obviously, and Bloom proposes to conduct a non-threatening thought experiment that might prod people out of their comfort zone on climate change. Not yet built, Bloom believes this to be a drastic step humanity will need to take to safeguard our future. Maybe instead of investing in the summer cottage, or in a time-share in a northern ski resort, set your sights and extra savings on investing in a flat in a futuristic Polar city. Check out the debate in TreeHugger forums.

Also see:
More Polar City and Global Warming on TH
The TH Interview: Sam Branson, Environmental Activist
The 4 Stages of Global Warming Denial
100 months to save the world from climate change

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