Wednesday, July 18, 2012
''Polartrons'' Will Be Havens in Warming World?
Danny Bloom is on a one-man campaign to get people to seriously
consider a worst-case prediction of the British chemist and inventor
James Lovelock: life in “polartons" arrayed around the shores of an
ice-free Arctic Ocean in a greenhouse-warmed world.
Dr. Lovelock, who in 1972 conceived of Earth’s crust, climate and
veneer of life as a unified self-sustaining entity, Gaia, foresees
humanity in full pole-bound retreat within a century as areas around
the tropics roast — a scenario far outside even the worst-case
projections of climate scientists.
After reading a newspaper column in which Dr. Lovelock predicted
disastrous warming, Mr. Bloom teamed up with Deng Cheng-hong, a Taiwanese artist, and
set up Web sites showing “polartons" designs for self-sufficient Arctic
Mr. Bloom told me his intent was to conduct a thought experiment that
might prod people out of their comfort zone on climate — which
remains, for many, a someday, somewhere issue.
“At six going on eight billion people,” Dr. Lovelock says, “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.”
The retreat, he insists, will be toward the poles. Therefore, says Bloom, “polartons" ....
It’s a dubious scenario, particularly on time scales shorter than
centuries. But — as we’ve written extensively in recent years — there
is already an intensifying push to develop Arctic resources and test
shipping routes that could soon become practical should the floating
sea ice in the Arctic routinely vanish in summers.
Sensing the shift, the Coast Guard has proposed establishing its first
permanent Arctic presence, a helicopter station in Barrow, Alaska, the
northernmost town in the United States.
It’s not a stretch to think of Barrow as a hub for expanding
commercial fishing and trade through the Bering Strait.
The strategic significance of an opening Arctic recently made the
pages of Foreign Affairs magazine, in an article by Scott Borgerson, a former Coast Guard officer
who is now a scholar at the Council on Foreign Relations.
“It is no longer a matter of if, but when, the Arctic Ocean will open
to regular marine transportation and exploration of its lucrative
natural-resource deposits,” he wrote.
So even if humanity isn’t driven to Arctic shores by climate calamity
at lower latitudes, it’s a sure bet that the far north will be an ever
busier place. Urban planners, get out your mukluks, the “polartons" are coming.
In the meantime, scientists, marathon runners, and others are already
making the North Pole a busy place.
Posted by DANIELBLOOM at 9:06 PM