Sunday, January 8, 2012

Will Norway Be the Future Home of 'Polar Cities' for Survivors of Climate Change?

Deng Cheng-hong - polar city artist in Taiwan

As you know, there are two extremes in Norway when it comes to climate
change predictions: we've got extreme climate science predictions
based on worst-case scenarios, some of which have Norway facing a
flood of millions of climate refugees from Europe and Africa by the
end of this century, and we've got many of the world's politicians
thinking or acting as if we've got all the time in the world to get
our act together.

An American climate activist based in Taiwan has been stuyding these
issues for a few years and he says: "Let me tell you about some great
real estate deals in Norway and Alaska! How about Greenland or
Siberia? I call these investment instruments "polar cities" and I'm
serious. Polar cities are the ultimate in long-term real estate
speculation. Just ask anyone in the business. Of course, I am kidding
here. But I am also serious. Sure, if you listen to the doomsayers, we
could be headed for a world which is barely livable, and I, for one,
don't want to go down that road."

Polar cities? Bloom, 63, says that on one level, his idea 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. On another
level, purely architectural and philosophical, polar cities could
serve as safe refuges for climate refugees if -- and only if -- worst
comes to worst.''

He adds: "Of course, I hope it never comes to that. We must work our
tails off now -- hear that, politicians and business leaders of
Norway? -- with as many geoengineering and technology ideas as we can
to save Norway and the rest of our planet. It can be done, and I am
optimistic that it will be done. We should not go gently into that
good night of climate chaos that the doomsayers like to speak of. I am
not a doomsayer."

Bloom has been working on his polar cities ideas since 2006, and
claims James Lovelock of Cornwall, England, is his teacher.

"He's 93. I'm 63. You in Norway who are 43 and 23, please listen: we
need your help. We need young engineers and scientists and climate
visionaries to persevere. I'm betting on you guys."

Bloom, who does not have a PHD and is not a scientist, and works in
Taiwan as a freelance reporter and college English teacher, says:

"I must confess: Dr . Lovelock was the the one 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
gas-guzzling car. Now I am pretty much fully awake, alert, concerned.
I hope people in Norway are, too, and I hope they plan to do something
about it."

"Polar cities are just something to think about. Again, I repeat, a
wake-up call so that our descendants -- our
great-great-great-great-great grandchildren -- never have to live in
such God-forsaken places."

"I know that there is a huge team of climate activists and engineering
experts in Norway and the world over, all working in their own ways to
raise the alarm about global warming and climate change. Now, luckily,
is not the time to think about migrating to Norway and the rest the
Arctic. However, now might be the time to start planning polar

In related news, a Norwegian official says: 'Absolutely no doubt' climate change is real

Norway's minister of foreign affairs stood at a Petroleum Club lectern recently and delivered a few blunt words on climate change, about which, he said, "there can be absolutely no doubt." "If you want to see evidence, go to the Arctic," Jonas Gahr Støre said.
His resource-rich country borders the polar region, where melting ice has expanded shipping lanes and cut sailing time on certain routes from Asia to Europe by 40 percent during parts of the year. Last year, Støre said, 34 ships used this "northeast passage," up from six in 2010.

Environmental impact notwithstanding, governments risk political "revenge," as Støre described it to an attentive World Affairs Council crowd, unless they start addressing this warming. Failure to set ambitious targets for cutting emissions and enact environmental regulations, he said, will erode the public's confidence in its institutions.
"I think the time is comparatively short and the imperative is clear," Støre said at the close of a question-and-answer period that drew so many written questions about his views on climate change that the moderator combined them into one final broad query.
Yet the foreign minister was hardly a flamethrower. He spoke warmly of Houston's energy sector and encouraged more ventures in the "High North."

He noted proudly that Norway is the world's second-largest exporter of natural gas - providing a third of the gas used in Germany, Britain and France - and the sixth-largest exporter of oil.

He pointed out that those new thaw-induced shipping routes have the benefit of cutting fuel usage. And he did not address the contentious issue of human contribution to climate change until that final question, when he expressed "no doubt there's a man-made dimension."

Støre was equally clear that Norway does not intend to stop producing fossil fuels. Cutting natural gas supplies to Europe, he said, would only increase the use of more-polluting coal there.

He stressed that while it is dangerous to deny climate change, it also is dangerous to deny the world's energy needs.

"I think denial is the worst," he said, "and it can have a backlash that none of us should live to see."

The crowd - mostly male, lots of suits, strongly representing the energy business - applauded Støre, and lines to greet him formed immediately once he'd finished speaking. In a cramped elevator afterward, one attendee noted to murmured agreement that the climate-change remarks appeared to have struck a nerve.
"It's the man-made part that I think is a bunch of hogwash," responded an elegantly dressed woman who appeared to be in her 60s. "I'm sure at the end of the last ice age there was global warming, too. The Earth warms and the Earth cools. God made it that way."

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