I don’t remember the date of my first encounter with the subject of floating cities. I would guess that the documentary I view on the subject might have appeared as early as a decade ago. At that time, it seemed that the engineering problems were already well along the way to being solved. The proposed substructure consisted of hundreds (or potentially thousands) of discrete units that created just enough flexibility to even out wave-effect virtually to nothing. Shocks were simply absorbed. I can’t recall how the whole was to be motorized—but the claim was made confidently that these islands would be capable of averting dangerous weather systems. Perhaps independent ships would drag them from harm’s way.
That, as I say, was a while back. Having brought the subject up casually last week, I continued to ask myself where the technology might be today—and why one hears no more about it. And I began to think about all the problems that “sea cities” could effectively resolve. Let’s say that the polar ice caps start to melt: that doesn’t seem to be happening at all, but let us stipulate that our coasts begin to creep in on us. All of the plans on the board to reduce carbon dioxide emissions (assuming that these were responsible for “coastal creep”—another whopping and unsubstantiated assumption) would merely plunge us into abject poverty while applying far too little antidote to the crisis far too late. Such “plans” are idiotic, to be blunt. A floating city, on the other hand, is an obvious and complete solution. So where are the drawing boards featuring that plan?
As I also wrote last time, floating cities could tightly control access. Crime would diminish to a fraction of current measures. Undesirables and unwanted substances could be kept out with high efficiency. Indeed, one of my concerns about the paradigm is that we could be contemplating crucibles for horrendous despotism, where abject obedience is enforced and flight is about as difficult as we find it, say, from Castro’s Cuba. But if we really wish to grow more Balkan and more tribal, as appears to be the case… then here’s our chance. Island A could be all heterosexual or all gay, if you like; B could be all Mormon; C could speak only Breton, an enclave of Celtic revivalists; D could require all citizens to carry a gun—or to give up even their pocket knives. Landbound communities are always compromised in such endeavor by the ease of “infection” from the outside. Here such frustration would be virtually removed.
It occurs to me that islands might also exert an influence against despotism in this respect. The greater federation operating on the mainland would face a challenge in enforcing its most Procrustean decrees if dozens of island-cites declared, ‘Hell, no!” and slipped their moorings. What would Mainland Nanny do? Send patrol boats out to harass the rebels? But the islands would be equipped with their own defense systems (necessary to stave off piracy and invasion), ratcheting up any such act of chastisement into a bloody civil war. From the air, islands would pose slowly moving targets—but targets capable of movement, nonetheless. Given an hour’s warning, their security officers could probably draw them out of an ICBM’s bull’s eye, if not liberate them from the ruin rained down by coastal rocket launchers. Yet I imagine them having anti-aircraft capabilities as well as their own small defensive fleets, which might well include submarines—useful for hauling them about, but also equipped to take out hostiles along the coast.
This discussion opened as a response to “global warming” hysteria, so it is worth remarking that an island environment could greatly reduce energy consumption and facilitate energy production. Trailing islands supplied with solar panels could be created, and perhaps something less cumbersome and space-consuming than the standard wind-turbine could be designed. Ocean currents could be harvested for energy. Inhabitants would live in a relatively confined area, so they would do much walking rather than gadding about in wasteful, needless conveyances. Life could also be lived in a less horizontal, more vertical manner to address temperature extremes. A substantial underwater community could serve as a retreat when the surface became either very cold or very hot (for water provides excellent insulation against both cold and heat). Surface activities, however, would keep residents in touch with their Circadian rhythms—and often, as we know, the temperature at sea level is very pleasant.
With plenty of sun, the surface would also feature roof-space and slanting walls thickly planted in edible vegetation. Naturally, as with solar panels, food provision could also be addressed through a kind of archipelago whose trailing islets were dedicated to agriculture. And need I say that the sea herself is an abundant provider? If the island produced quantities of “garbage” fully edible and healthy for populations of marine animals, then these latter could be harvested regularly and readily without any risk of depletion incurred.
How to make garbage edible or recyclable? That may be the golden question… but it appears answerable, if one considers that designers of interplanetary transport are already well along to creating biospheres where all waste products are put back into service. Why, may I ask, are we so very far advanced in our plans to leave Earth, yet we seem in no hurry at all to develop a healthy and secure method of existing on her oceans?
Could it be because populating the ocean, as I have shown, would likely liberate our planet’s various peoples to a degree of political independence and cultural autonomy that her megalomaniac elite begrudges the human race? Could it be that the only dreams we are allowed to pursue on any drawing board are those that promote centralization? Why is it that “progress”, in the warped minds of certain Global Warming Hystericals, necessarily involves the transformation of the human species into an anthill?