Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The New Frontier of Polar Cities: by Nicole Scarmeas

Ice: The New Frontier

by Nicole Scarmeas in PLENTY magazine online

There’s a real cool up-and-coming-neighborhood emerging (and no, it’s not in New York City); all you’ll need are your skis, snowshoes, and polar-bear language CDs.

Sustainable Polar Retreats. They’re not your next vacation hotspot, but they will be the only place left to live once global warming takes its toll on the planet, says Dan Bloom, a leading member of The Polar Cities Research Institute. He is calling for fully-sustainable cities to be built in the Arctic Circle. Options will include such solar panel-equipped havens in Alaska, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, and Russia. The Polar Cities Research Institute is ready to construct a functional prototype polar city in Longyearbyen, Norway in 2012, and "volunteer testing occupancy" is to launch in 2015.

Varying climate change reports prompted Bloom, an English teacher living in Taiwan, to wonder which theory was accurate. He began to research global warming about a year ago. The idea for sustainable polar cities sprung to life when he read James Lovelock’s fire and brimstone op-ed in the Independent newspaper

Lovelock, a British scientist, believes that “global heating” will melt the Earth faster than Britney loses her underwear. He wrote, “…Before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Artic where the climate remains tolerable.”

Living in a polar city will basically be like living on a snowy, college campus—everything will be in walking distance. Polar retreats will have indoor crops and trees to harvest fruits and vegetables. Security will be posted outside the entrance to make sure the 200,000 occupants are safe, and residents will commute through tube-like tunnels that connect people from their sleeping quarters to their work and living areas. These communities are fully sustainable and secure against the elements. Supplies could be carried by the Navy as they have before when a team of scientists was 500 miles from the North Pole.

Global warming scares have prompted people to seek refuge in the most unlikely of places. If polar communities don’t work out, well, there’s always the moon.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Doomsday Vault in Norway: Seed Vault & Polar Cities For Survivors

The seed vault in Svaalbord, Norway, in a little town called Longyearbyen (named after US industrialist John Longyear --really, google his name! -- who went mining there long long ago)opens today, February 26, 2008 [or Year 4,000,008 Earth Era if we are keeping time the right way! -- it's hardly year 2008 on Earth!]. My take on the seed vault project is this:

I love it. Great idea, great project, wonderful global PR and public awareness about climate change and global warming. Why? Because for the first time, because of this project's immense news value in print and online, with hundreds of reporters covering the opening ceremony today in Svaalbord, including Becky Anderson of CNN, and print reports in the newspapers worldwide tomorrow about the seed vault, people around the globe will be reading about these special scary terms: climate change, global warming, catastrophe, calamity, possible end of civilization as we know it, and terms and phrases like that. And why is this good? Because the seed vault project, while it's only about SEEDS for now, it is paving the way, in the human mind, to also think about what might happen if global warming gets out of control and sometime in the far distant future, humans must migrate north to live in "sustainable population retreats" (OR, "polar cities" to use another term) to continue the human species, where Lovelock's "breeding pairs" in the Arctic will live to propagate the human species generation after generation, for as long as it takes for the Earth to become habitable again in the middle and central regions.

So the seed vault project is helping people to better grasp the idea of polar cities, as a worst case scenario for humankind. Of course, one hopes we will never need polar cities. I certainly hope not. But .... we might need them, and the goal of the Polar Cities Research Project (Google the term) is to help prepare people worldwide for what might happen in the far distant future. Images such as these:

also help people visualize the unthinkable.

If we need to keep seeds in a special storage vault, then it might be that someday we will need to house humans in special northern population retreats, (polar cities or polar villages or polar retreats -- in Alaska, Canada, Russia, Greenland, and yes, even in Svaalbord, Norway). In fact, one side project of ours is to start a test model polar city in Longyearbyen in the year 2015, with volunteers assembling for the team in 2012. Again, this is not science fiction, and to learn more about the model polar city idea, google the words. Already people have emailed in to sign up.

Preserving seeds is a vital, important idea. Wonderful! And in the future, we might need to draw on some of the same ideas and engineering feats to build polar cities for human beings to live in.

Geekologie blog
Google ("polar cities" and "model polar city")

NOTA BENE: Jeremy Hawker, at Dot Earth comments, mentions that there should be some mention that Norway has an official, government-funded organisation for art in public places (KORO). It hired conceptual artist Dyveke Sanne to design the outside of the seed vault. She made the small, polished-steel reflectors you can see on the roof, and on the front above the entry. They are in boxes, over 2 meters wide (as wide as the entry) and the roof panels are eleven meters long; they are set under glass and lit with 200 meters of fiber-optic cables. Interesting side note!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

On Polar Cities: Will the Future be Secured?

Nina Munteanu's blog from Canada: THE ALIEN NEXT DOOR


In The Revenge of Gaia (2006), James Lovelock describes a dark future when heating suddenly escalates because of positive feedback. Says reviewer, Richard Mabey of the Times: “At the current rate, global temperatures will rise by nearly three degrees in the next 50 years. At this point, the rainforests begin to die, releasing vast new amounts of carbon dioxide. Algae fail in the ocean and stop generating cooling clouds and absorbing carbon. The Greenland glacier goes into meltdown, releasing enough water to flood many of the world’s cities. Crop failures, human migrations, the emergence of “brutal war-lords” follow. We know the story, but not in our “real world” minds. Global heating is not yet part of our collective unconscious in the way the bomb was.” At some point in his dissertation, Lovelock describes the ragtag journey to and survival of a few humans in the Arctic, the last hospitable place on the planet.

But, as they make their journey there, what do they see? Clusters of modular Polar Cities, designed for this very catastrophe, nestled in the natural fabric of the arctic’s environment. Someone was prepared!

For my Friday Feature here, I explore the concept of “Polar Cities” with Danny Bloom, director of the Polar Cities Research Institute in Taiwan. In January, 2007, Bloom’s started assembling a team of architects, civil engineers, industrial engineers, urban planners and scientists to set up the Polar City Project to design and build a model polar city. The city will be built in Longyearbyen, Norway, in 2012and will be ready for its first volunteer residents by 2015. The project will house up to 100 volunteer residents with the ability to expand. Funding will come from sources in the UK, Japan and Dubai, and the government of Norway, if all goes according to plan.

Bloom, a 60-year-old American (give or take a few years here and there), lives in Taiwan, where he teaches English and has served in the past as a reporter, editor and author in the USA and Japan. He credits his idea for polar cities on the writings of -- and a Financial Times interview by Fiona Harvey with -- James Lovelock, who claimed that global heating was likely to produce an apocalyptic six-degree C. rise in the global average temperature before the end of the century. Fired with a mission to educate at the least and prepare us at the most, Bloom is currently assembling his international team and has begun to design in earnest, commissioning some interesting illustrations of various aspects such as living quarters, recreational centre, eateries, etc., pictured throughout this post.

Bloom was lately featured in, one of the top 10 blogs (by Technorati authority), who called Bloom a “visionary futurist” then went on to say that his idea all sounded a little Dr. Evil or just plain far-fetched. Polar cities is an idea many climate change experts refuse to consider, saying that to imagine such a future was not productive when humanity needs to focus on “how the world can drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
Bloom insists that he is not a doomsayer or a gloom-and-doom survivalist, but rather “an eternal optimist who cares about the future of humankind.” Bloom confided in Stephen Leahy at IPSNews that “I’m going to spend the last years of my life pushing this idea of polar cities to wake people up. I don’t care if people don't understand the method in my madness.”

One of those people might be Franklyn Griffiths. Referring to Lovelock’s Revenge of Gaia (2006), Griffiths laments the use of clever technology and new-science to solve global warming without an associated paradigm change: “To think of [preserving] civilization [as we know it] in the Arctic is to have learned nothing. It is to dwell on hard science when it is humanity, its practices, and how to alter them that should have first claim on our attention. The new prevailing narrative ought to be one … in which we treat nature with renewed respect and, in so doing, see whether we might reinvent what it means to be civilized.”

Bloom wasn’t the first person to conceive of polar cities. In January 25, 1959 the Chicago Tribune ran this picture of the “Polar City of the Future” as part of the Closer Than We Think! Series. Said the Tribune: “…How would isolated polar cities ringed by icebergs and mountains be supplied? Our armed forces have a solution—the dirigible. Recently the Navy told how its blimp Z PG-2 successfully flew food and other supplies to an ice island team of scientists only 500 miles from the North Pole.”

Key words: arctic, Dan Bloom, Franklyn Griffiths, Gizmodo, global warming, james lovelock, polar cities

Monday, February 11, 2008


Who's talking and what is he saying? The discussion is about global warming and climate change, and that's St. Peter in heaven giving these two blokes the thumbs down, meaning, they were not admitted to heaven for some reason or other having to do with how they did or not fight against climate change. One of those guys might be a lawyer. Try your hand at writing your own caption, and put it in the comments section below, anonymous comments allowed or email the comments to us at danbloom at the gmail account. You know the drill.


A young blogger in Tahiti, that lovely French island in the Pacific, has picked up our idea of "polar cities" and blogged in French about them:

Cette idée de ville polaire me fait froid dans le dos. Et si? Et si le réchauffement climatique empêchait la vie dans certaines régions du monde? Le pire peut-il arriver? La Terre va-t-elle se réchauffer?

Des questions que Danny Bloom se posent sans arrêt et qui a fini par avoir eu raison de sa “raison”-- Désolé pour le jeu de mot, mais ne vous en faites pas il n’a pas peur qu’on le traite de fou, la preuve en images:

C’est une ville du future, près du cercle polaire Arctique, énergies renouvelables, infrastructure de transport, et agriculture bio sont au programme. Même si le projet est louable, je vais tout faire pour ne pas y vivre, c’est d’un glauque.

Pour ceux qui sont intéressés, les travaux commencent en 2012, et vous pourrez y vivre à partir de 2015. Pour ma part. je vais tenter de convaincre le monde de changer! Oui je suis optimiste, pas vous?

Later, Allain wrote to me:
"Thanks for visiting my blog, and to answer your question, i guess that in 20-30 years we are going to see the first "victim" of global warming here in Tahiti, the Tetiaroa atoll (the one from Marlon Brando). This atoll is only at 3 meters above the ocean. Tahiti might be ok, nothing is sure."

[Maheanuu Allain]


Keith Farnish in the UK characterized our polar cities idea as "a potent warning rather than a hopeful future," and he is completely right in looking at it this way. I am not predicting that we will need polar cities, I am just speculating. I hope we never need them. But if all else fails, and all the techno fixes fail to work, or stop global warming in its tracks, then some kind of sustainable population retreats in northern areas might be needed, 30 generations down the road. Not now. Not now, of course. Now it the time to party like there's no tomorrow, right? Burn! Slash! Consume! (Kidding)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

6 Things You Must Do!

Keith Farnish in the UK has a very good article online here:


Greg said to me today: "Look at the upper right hand corner of this map from 1597: Hyperborea. The northern arctic kingdom!"
And Elizabeth Tjader over at Dot Earth said a wonderful thing today, too: "There is nothing more exciting than imagining this planet "well" again."

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

First Polar City Themed Movie Script Penned

The first known movie script using polar cities as a theme for the location and storyline, in the year 2600 or so, has been written by a team of scriptwriters concerned about global warming. It's a spec script, which means that no Hollywood producers have seen it yet, and it was not commissioned by anyone. But the existence of this script marks the first time the concept of a "polar city" has ever been used for a Hollywood movie or TV script. Bravo to the writers! The short story may never be filmed or shown on TV, but the very fact that a group of writers has taken the idea seriously means that the concept is worth thinking about. It begins like this:

[GENRE: Science Fiction
LOGLINE: A minstrel seeks shelter in a polar city in the future, but
can they use his skills?
1. Opening Image: Ragged, drab farmers harvesting in the fields,
sweating in the unbearable heat. We'd think we were in the Dark Ages,
except for the futuristic, self-contained city gleaming in the b.g. 1
2. Theme Stated:
3. Set-up: SIRENS BLARE, warning of the coming hydrogen sulfide gas.]


Cold rush: The coming fight for the melting north

Arctic regions
Canada, Northern
Global Warming
Military policy
Northwest passage
Strategic aspects

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Monday, February 4, 2008


Attempts at such green communities have had mixed results. Arcosanti, the ecotopian town in the Arizona desert, was started three decades ago. Still a work in progress, it is now being encroached on by Phoenix’s suburban expansion.

-- Andrew Revkin, New York Times reporter, February 4, 2008



Who is this man and what is the documentary that he is making? Ask and I will tell you in the comments section below:

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The true visionary

James Lovelock


Representative Peabody 2008 coal sales in tons: 22, 177,999