Sea levels are rising, the world is slowly flooding, and we are not taking it lying down. Because if we did, we might just drown! Realising that there is little chance of stopping the global warming causing the rise, scientists, designers, and others are looking at ways to stay afloat. This means we could very well see a future in which floating cities and farms are an everyday feature, rather than being confined to the imagination of science fiction writers.
What Science Says
According to National Geographic, satellite measurements as well as tide readings and earth’s core samples revealed that the Global Mean Sea Level has risen by almost 20cm (8 inches) over the last 100 years. The annual rise rate for the last 2 decades has been double that of the 80 years prior.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that, while the predictions remain uncertain, ocean levels may rise by anything between 28 and 98 centimetres by 2100.
Asia’s No Stranger to Floating
While floating communities may be a relatively innovative idea to most Westerners, Asia is no stranger to living on water. The Cambodian village of Kompong Phluk floats on the Tonlé Sap Lake for half of the year. For the other half, it is an ordinary village with dusty streets.
Rather than earn their living by farming rice like most of the region’s inhabitants, many villagers work as tour guides or as fishermen.
A more modern example is the Macau Palace, a two-storey establishment that features a selection of casino games and that floats in Macau’s Fisherman’s Wharf. It featured in the James Bond movie, the Man with the Golden Gun, and has earned itself a great reputation both locally and worldwide.
What People Are Doing
While activists continue to try to convince governments to switch to sustainable methods of energy production, development, and agriculture, others are looking at creating a new world – one that floats.
Among them are the non-profit organisation Seasteading and the Singapore-based start-up company, Blue Frontiers. According to the latter’s spokesperson, Nathalie Mezza-Garcia, the envisioned floating communities will use cryptocurrencies, and will be organised and run according to innovative governmental structures.
Mezza-Garcia said that the floating cities would cater for permanent residents as well as for those who stay there on a semi-permanent or irregular basis. In addition to housing, hotels, and shops, the cities will also feature floating medical facilities and security services. A memorandum of understanding signed with French Polynesia is seeing the development of 12 platforms that form the basic structure of the communities.
NASA Gets In On the Plan
Even NASA scientist Dr Jonathan Trent has ideas that could be essential for the success of floating farms. That idea is nothing less than a manure-based closed-loop system.
According to Dr Trent, the idea was conceived when conducting a study on how fuel could be produced on the planet Mars, should a planetary station ever be established there. He explained the system, saying that manure can be processed into omega 3-rich dietary supplements for animals, biogas, algae food, and fertiliser.
Another promising project is that for the USA’s San Francisco Bay Area. Faced with losing huge tracts of coastal land to flooding by rising ocean levels, designers from One Architecture + Urbanism, Bjarke Ingels Group and Sherwood Design Engineers made proposals for floating communities, a sky park, tide barriers, and more.
The project will take shape at Islais Creek, and while it will not feature the floating communities envisioned for the future, it will see a pier and a section of freeway converted into a bike track, a sky park, and a sewerage-treatment plant.
Like the famous saying goes, if you can’t beat them, join them. We may not be able to stop rising ocean levels, but we can float above them.