Monday, December 5, 2011

Polar Cities — the Ultimate in Long-Term Real Estate Speculation?

December 5, 3011 A.D.

Zachary Shahan wrote for PLANETSAVE.COM in 2011

We’ve got two extremes when it comes to climate change predictions: we’ve got the most extreme climate science predictions based on worst-case scenarios, some of which have the world becoming completely unlivable, and we’ve got many of the world’s politicians thinking or acting like we’ve got all the time in the world to cut our emissions.

I was recently contacted by Danny Bloom, who is putting his heart and mind into the “Polar Cities” project, basically arguing that due to our sloth in acting to prevent catastrophic global warming and climate change today, we could be headed for a world where that is barely livable, where humans can mostly just live close to the poles. To highlight the urgency of the issue we’re facing, just as a thought experiment, it seems, Bloom contends that it would be wise of us who are not fooled by the fossil fuel lobby to start looking at real estate in such regions… today! Of course, this is a little ridiculous, but it does serve a purpose….

“Polar cities? Well, on one level, my project is just a wake up call, an alarm bell, shouting from the rooftops that we must do all we can now to avert climate disasters in the future,” Bloom writes. “On another level, purely architectural and philosophical, let me put it gently this way: Polar cities are envisioned as safe refuge communities where
climate refugees can live if — and only if — worst comes to worst.”

While this is all a bit of fantasy thinking, I do think that we are putting off action for too long to not run into massive droughts, floods, and other natural disasters.. which will lead to massive famine and death. And what I like about what Bloom is pushing that I think it can help to wake some people up to the scale of the issue facing us. I hope it can. And, I think Bloom is looking at it this way himself, more or less.

“Of course, I hope it never comes to that. We must work our tails off now — now! — with as many geoengineering and technology ideas as we can to save our planet. It can be done, and I am optimistic that it will be done. We will not go gently into that good night of climate chaos that the doomsayers like to speak of. I am not a doomsayer. I am a Bloomsayer.”

Bloom is clearly having a bit of fun with this. And trying to wake people up using a mixture of extremism and humor. Regarding the quote above, while I don’t think we should be fiddling with geoengineering, I do think the important thing is that we act now to address this issue. And that should be our #1 focus when it comes to this topic.

But Bloom is clearly working on his Polar Cities project with vigor, and I think that’s still infinitely more useful than what the fossil fuel industry, numerous banks, and numerous politicians (ahem, the whole Republican leadership) are doing.

More from Bloom:

I’ve lived in Asia since 1991, and began working on the polar cities alarm bell project in 2006, James Lovelock is my teacher. He’s 93. I’m 63. You who are 43 and 23, please listen: we need your help. Check out my Polar City site here and remember that it is just a what-if project and not something I ever want to see happen. Imagine: I am the head of a global project that I hope never becomes reality. I want to fail. I want you, dear reader, to succeed, to survive and flourish and persevere.”

The polar cities website may be the best site on the internet for long-term real estate speculators — really long term speculators! Humor helps here. In fact, I’ve put together a map of where I think the best polar real estate lies.

Sometimes I like to think of myself as “James Lovelock’s Accidental Student” because while I am an optimist, and I think everything will work out fine, eventually, one way or the other, it was Dr Lovelock in Britain who first woke me up with his calls for deep thinking about our future on a warming Earth. Before that, I was, like most people, asleep at the wheel of my own SUV. Now I am fully awake, alert, concerned. I hope you are, too, and I hope you plan to do something about it.

Dr. Lovelock has seen the polar cities images that Taiwanese artist Deng Cheng-hong has designed for the future. Lovelock told me in an email two years ago that these polar city ideas might even be useful later on.

Okay, look, I admit it: I am an affable, avuncular, slightly loopy eccentric, but certainly not a dangerous end of the world survivalist at all. Polar cities are just something to think about. Again, I repeat, a wake up call so that we never have to live in such God-forsaken places.

I know that there is a huge team of climate activists and engineering experts the world over, all working in our own ways to raise the alarm about global warming and climate change. I’ve had my say here. Would love to hear your comments as well.

Danny Bloom, a 1971 Tufts graduate who now lives in Taiwan, can be reached at danbloom AT gmail, if you’re interested in chatting more about this.

Now, luckily, is not the time to think about migrating to the Arctic. However, now is the time to put in some real effort to preserve the world full of life’s basic necessities that we have today. Please, help to spread the word and do your part! And, if you want, have a little fun dreaming about polar cities.

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