Floating world

All this dutch design brilliance may soon amount to nought. Approximately 60% of the Netherlands are lower than sea level, not a good place to be in a century where sea levels may well rise 5 metres or more. Many studies are pessimistic about the country’s survival while others are already planning for a floating world,

from the domestic scale

to entire communities and even cities.

In a very real sense they face one of the greatest adaptive reuse questions imaginable – can the technology of seacraft really be adapted to the scale of an entire city? Is it even worth trying?

The technology is developing and prototypes exist already, such as this floating airport in Tokyo Bay. But despite its enormous scale it is puny compared to the scale required in the Netherlands. And not just in the Netherlands.

Here is a proposal for floating communities in a flooded Thames Estuary,

including the return of the adaptively reused hulks of superannuated ships and other vessels like oil rigs.

There is even a Seasteading movement which aims to adapt oil rig technology to create floating communities at sea.

It all seems a strange approach to the problem of climate change. Are we a bit naive in thinking that a more effective approach might be to make everything smaller rather than larger and to simply move somewhere else rather than waste scarce resources fighting the inevitable? Or is the explanation that there is money in grandiosity and none in downscaling? Will humanity end up like those lung cancer sufferers who still smoke even on their deathbed?

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