Saturday, May 20, 2017

Slow Saturday Special: Unflushed Turd

It just wouldn't go down....

"As climate change accelerates, floating cities look like less of a pipe dream" by Mike Ives New York Times   January 27, 2017

HONG KONG — You might call it a Noah’s Ark for an era of melting polar ice sheets.

An audacious plan to respond to climate change by building a city of floating islands in the South Pacific is moving forward, with the government of French Polynesia agreeing to consider hosting the islands in a lagoon.

The project is being put forward by a California nonprofit, the Seasteading Institute, which has raised about $2.5 million from more than 1,000 interested donors. Randolph Hencken, the group’s executive director, said work on the project could start in French Polynesia as early as next year, pending the results of some environmental and economic feasibility studies.

“We have a vision that we’re going to create an industry that provides floating islands to people who are threatened by rising sea levels,” Hencken said.

The group’s original founders included Peter Thiel, a billionaire investor and prominent supporter of President Trump, although Thiel is no longer donating to the institute, Hencken said.

Hencken said that the project’s pilot islands would cost a total of $10 million to $50 million and house a few dozen people, and that the initial residents would most likely be middle-income buyers from the developed world.

He added that the institute was seeking to build the islands in what would be a nautical version of a special economic zone and that it would showcase innovations in solar power, sustainable aquaculture, and ocean-based wind farms.

The project’s leaders face many hurdles, such as building waste-management systems for the islands and convincing investors to buy property in such an untested environment.

Joe Quirk, a spokesman for the Seasteading Institute, said in a 2014 video that the cost of housing on the artificial islands would initially be on par with real estate in London or New York City.

But the project also shows how the acceleration of climate change has prompted technology entrepreneurs to devise innovative solutions to climate-related problems such as rising sea levels.

“The oceans are the most ignored part of the planet, so I’m excited by the possibilities which will emerge when you get some of Silicon Valley’s more adventurous souls focusing on the sustainable use of our coastal and marine areas,” Lelei LeLaulu, a development entrepreneur from Samoa who specializes in the Pacific islands and advises the International Finance Corporation on sustainable business, said in an e-mail from French Polynesia.

But the project has critics in French Polynesia and beyond.

Why spoil the agenda-pushing?

Hencken said that he expected the project to eventually include dozens of artificial islands and that similar projects could eventually be built in other atoll nations or coastal areas threatened by rising sea levels.

He added that the cost of housing on the islands would decrease as the island platforms became cheaper to manufacture.

“I certainly don’t think this is a project that is exclusively for the wealthy,” he said, adding that his background was in social justice activism.

But experts familiar with climate change and the South Pacific said they doubted the project would be feasible on a wide scale in a region with some of the world’s poorest countries. They also wondered whether the money could be better spent on education or health care.

“I wouldn’t write it off entirely; I just come to these things with a healthy skepticism,” said Matthew Dornan, deputy director of the Development Policy Center at Australian National University in Canberra.

“There is a tendency for very technologically focused solutions to the challenges in the Pacific without any real input from the Pacific Islanders themselves,” Dornan said....

I didn't see anything about the impact of weather, typhoons, cyclones, or any of that stuff.


What's next, floating nuclear power plants?