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Danny Bloom, a freelance writer, translator and editor living in Taiwan, 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 “polar cities” 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 (a frequent comment poster on Dot Earth these days) teamed up with Deng Cheng-hong, a Taiwanese artist, and set up Web sites showing designs for self-sufficient Arctic communities.
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. Read more…
I’m immersed in four different reporting threads today so I can only add a quick update on the Antarctic ship accident — the Chilean Navy has rescued the passengers — and some fresh statistics related to Antarctic tourism. The graph above shows the rise in numbers of people visiting the frozen continent (click on the image to expand it and see the numbers). Ian Austen wrote an excellent overview of the issues related to ever more people exploring an essentially uninhabited and ecologically pristine place.
One quirky Antarctic question for me — on a much longer time scale — relates to the prolonged warming along the Antarctic Peninsula. In the end, will there be rising pressure to settle that arm of land as the ice continues to pull back and grass grows in Antarctica? (I know there’s a treaty, but time has a way of changing things.) Danny Bloom — inspired by James Lovelock — long ago proposed “Polar Cities” but was mainly focused in the far north. Will the first such settlement be down south?
Earlier this week I spoke at Arizona State University on ways to pursue a least-regrets approach to human development. My talk (building on one you can watch here) launched an interdisciplinary workshop on developing the capacity to manage the climate system in the face of relentlessly rising emissions of greenhouse gases.*
The university already has initiatives on everything from “urban resilience to extremes” to “negative emissions” — developing ways to extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in amounts large enough to matter at climate scale. (Think billions of tons a year, a scale that the Paris climate agreement presumes, without much evidence, will be possible later this century.)evidence, will be possible later this century
But leaders of the university’s sustainability initiatives want to inspire more cross-cutting collaborations, particularly including the humanities and social sciences. There’s plenty to draw on there. How many schools have an “Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative“?
That kind of linkage is essential given the mix of values and science that will implicitly shape human pursuits in the decades and centuries ahead. It was invigorating to join an array of scholars and students stepping out of their disciplinary silos to grapple with overarching questions like these: Read more…