Earth has seen much better days, and science says it's largely humanity's fault. This week, the antarctic ice sheet's eventual collapse was declared "unstoppable" by research teams. How might we survive unprecedented rises in sea level? No one's sure, but games like BioShock and Brink may have the right idea.
Scientists are estimating a 10 foot rise in overall sea levels as a result of the ice sheet's untimely (read: any time at all, ever) demise, and that'll usher in all sorts of environmental catastrophes. The most obvious concern? Large portions of land stand to be enveloped by water, leaving many members of an already fairly crowded planet without a place to live.
Though it'll likely be hundreds of years before the effects of the most apocalyptic ice cream spillage in history are fully felt, this is still a disaster of epic proportions. Motherboard, then, took a rather unexpected approach by looking toward utopian solutions—not the hopeless, helpless dystopia's it's hard not to imagine when words like "unstoppable disaster" start flying.
Self-sustaining water-based cities certainly sound like they could get the job done, and it's hard not to think of BioShock's undersea "utopia" (gone, er, horribly, genocidally wrong) Rapture when looking at pictures like this:
Russian architect Alexander Remizov's "bioclimatic" sea city
Or intriguingly inventive (though ultimately mediocre) Bethesda multiplayer shooter Brink and its floating final bastion of humanity in a waterlogged world when you see:
The Seasteading Institute's mock-up of a floating libertarian paradise
The Brink comparison, I think, is especially eerie, with the two even sporting similar color schemes and architectural styles. Looks like game makers have been doing their homework.
Of course, there are plenty of hurdles to get over in turning these bobbing science fiction monoliths into science fact. The idea of an undersea civilization is pretty out-there, but a floating city? Potentially doable. The Seasteading Institute is a real, shockingly BioShock-esque thing, albeit one more concerned with getting Silicon-Valley-style business away from government regulation than saving humanity from the slowly encroaching hands of Mother Nature's vengeful grip. It's still all largely conceptual, but there are people sinking tremendous amounts of money into realizing this idea.
On the more hopeful/existent side of things, there's also the African Water Cities Project, which is in the process of engineering an entire city to float in Lagos, Nigeria. Phase two of construction, which is set to be complete by the end of 2014, includes some seriously interesting tech like: "a state-of-the-art device designed by Japanese company Air Danshin Systems Inc that detects certain movements (such as earthquake tremors) and activates a compressor that pumps air into a chamber below the structure so that the dwellings may navigate safely over a flood plain."
Motherboard further points out that MIT has figured out how to make nuclear reactors float, so that takes care of the energy portion of the self-sustaining equation—assuming, of course, that people are willing to accept the risk of radioactive discharge or even meltdowns, which could easily turn their sunny sea homes into watery graves.
Those are only a few options, but it's certainly interesting food for thought. The future is terrifying, but we're not necessarily doomed. We've got options! Kinda. Just ignore the part where BioShock and Brink ended in horrible bloodshed, and everything should be totally fine.
Floating Utopias for the Age of Rising Seas [Motherboard]
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