Sunday, November 18, 2007

Of course, we hope it never comes to this. We hope that polar cities are never necessary, and we hope that human ingenuity, and human intelligence and human will power to achieve the goal of stemming the tide of climate change and global warming will do the trick. But ....if this trick cannot be done, if the tipping point was passed long ago and we are not going to undo what we have done, then we just might need polar cities sometime in the far distant future. Again, repeat, far distant future. Not now. Like year 2500, for starters. Some people have told me we might need them earlier, say year 2100 or so. Or year 2399. Or maybe not until year 2999.

Thing is, we just might need them someday. And while we still have time and talent and money and fuel and transport and ideas and the UN and the IPCC and civilization, maybe the time to start thinking about polar cities -- 100 good quesitons about them -- is NOW!

So in the spirit of human imagination and peering into the future, here are 100 questions about polar cities that must be asked, and maybe you have more. Please add them to the comments section. And please comment on these questions, pro or con. We need all the imput we can get here. And when we say "we" here, we mean "us" -- the human experiment on Earth. We've been here a few million years, and we should have a few millions more years to go. Should. However, this global warming thing is not going to go away just by wishing and praying. We have some big battles to fight in the future, and one of them will be: who will get to live in these polar cities, who will administer them and guard them from marauders and roaming bandits, and how long will these polar cities be needed? Some people say maybe 100 years, maybe 1000 years, maybe 10,000 years, maybe 100,000 years. Thing is: big trouble ahead.

Question time.... . . . . . .
Visual images link: Go here first:

1. Who will govern these polar cities, the countries in which they are located -- Canada, Norway, Iceland, Russia, USA (Alaska), Greenland, Finland, Sweden, Chile, New Zealand, Antartica -- or the United Nations, or a new kind of world ''polar city'' government?

2. Who will protect, guard and maintain these polar cities? Will there be large armies of soldiers to guard the entrances? Private or public armies? Mercenaries a la Mad Max?

3. And who will pay for these guard services, and how will money to pay for such armies be generated in those far distant days?

4. Medical services, terminally ill, banking, clothing, food supplies, power generation, education of young, higher education, libraries, document archives, entertainment/leisure, movie theaters, computers, medical services, E.R., O.R., surgery, transportation within and outside the polar cities, old age, letting old people die early to conserve food resources?, chidlren born with disabilities, gender mix, men women children, pets, animals for food, power generation, fuel, paper, newspapers, computers, teachers, craftsmen, artisans, cooks, artificial foods, etc, money, banking, inheritance, etc

5. Who will be the teachers, and what will they teach, how will they teach, what materials, textbooks, will they use?

6. Religion: will a new religion arise with new kinds of pastors, or will the old religions of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Shinto, Hinduism, Taosim, Buddhism, etc, survive and endure in these polar cities?

7. What kinds of counselling services will be provided for survivors of global warming, who may have to live in polar cities for several centuries, passing on their genes to a new generation, perhaps for 30 generations?

8. SOME ANSWERS HERE, FROM A REGULAR READER OF THIS BLOG: "I think the food source will be mold or fungus grown on recycled biomass (poop, leftovers, and bodies), but you can always say "hydroponics." I doubt open air surface agriculture and husbandry will be practical.

"I think the power source maybe nuclear, bio-electric, solar, or wind, but you can always say "renewable." I doubt fossil fuel, wood, or geo-thermal will be practical.

"I think polar cities will be constructed with stone and earth, but there is always the possibility that technological advances will allow it to be bio-materials. I doubt imported plastic, wood, or metal composites in large amounts will be practical.

"As far as the social, economic, and political structure of the community, it will probably be communal with a strong restrictive authority, but you can always say "democratic" (i.e. consensus based), although I doubt that will be practical. Privacy will be minimal, and the individual would have to subvert themselves to the group. There are models for this, both successful and unsuccessful.

"Obviously there will have to be draconian internal security, but less resource intensive external security, but you can always just let people think it will be like today's nation/states. The bottom line is that today's mindset would find such a stable isolated and resource scarce community obnoxious and prison like. Living on the surface of the Earth gives workable societies the luxury of personal freedom, but imagine such folly inside a self-contained structure. It sure would be nice if everyone in such a community was a model citizen, but individuals have free will, so expected deviance would have to be stifled harshly."

"I always thought that you citing the year 2500 was too conservative (why sugar coat it?)."

9. What kind of medical services, hospitals, clinics, medicines, drugs, operating rooms, will be available in these polar cities, and how will each generation of doctors be trained? How will operating rooms and hospitals be powered?

10. What kind of entertainment facilities will there be, movie theateres, email cafes, bowling alleys, TV rooms, libraries, bookstores, coffee shops?

BLOG BREAK: "By 2050 or so, the world population is expected to reach nine billion, essentially adding two Chinas to the number of people alive today," writes New York Times reporter Andrew Revkin in his blog titled DOT EARTH ( "Those billions will be seeking food, water and other resources on a planet where, scientists say, humans are already shaping climate and the web of life." [In Dot Earth, reporter Andrew C. Revkin examines efforts to balance human affairs with the planet’s limits. Supported in part by a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, Mr. Revkin tracks relevant news from suburbia to Siberia, and conducts an interactive exploration of trends and ideas with readers and experts.]