The Rising Interest in Living on the Ocean and How We’re Getting There

Cities on the Ocean


The ocean covers most of the planet. Furthermore, it is expected to cover more and more of the planet as climate change continues to melt the ice in both the Arctic and the Antarctic, so much so that there are entire countries that are under threat of being submerged. As a result, it should come as no surprise to learn that there are a number of institutions interested in opening up the ocean for human habitation using methods that range from the plausible to those that would not seem out of place in even the most fantastical examples of science fiction.

With that said, it is important to note that living on the ocean is not as new a concept as it seems to most people. After all, people have been living on the ocean since ancient times, with one excellent example being the boat people of southern China. In short, these boat people are thought to be descended from minorities who were pushed out of the Chinese mainland but interacted so much with their neighbors that most of their culture has become Han Chinese with hints of other influences that can still be seen here and there. Some of them still live on clustered boats that resemble nothing so much as floating towns, subsisting on a combination of fishing and sea-farming.

Naturally, modern efforts to open up the ocean for human habitation are more sophisticated, though some of them are not actually that much different at their basis. (2) For example, some of the institutions are planning to build floating structures, which will exist out on the ocean in much the same manner as their predecessors. In contrast, other institutions are much more ambitious, whether when it comes to the outlandishness of their concepts or the sheer scope of the same. Summed up, it seems probable that more and more people will be living out on the ocean in the future, but it remains to be seen how they will actually do so, seeing as how the field is still relatively new.

Artificial Island

What Are the Institutions Interested in Living on the Ocean?

Here are some examples of the institutions that are interested in living on the ocean:

Blue Revolution Hawaii and Reignwood

There are a number of institutions that are interested in building bigger and better floating structures out on the ocean for a wide range of purposes. For example, the Blue Revolution Hawaii is a project that plans to build super-sized ships that will use the interaction between hot and cold water to not just power them through their voyages out on the open ocean but also create the conditions that are needed to sustain agriculture, without which human civilization could not feed itself.

Similarly, the Chinese group called Reignwood is planning to build a 10-megawatt power plant out on the ocean, which will provide the power needed to sustain sea-farming on a massive scale, while Shell is planning to build a natural gas facility that will measure an incredible length of four football fields and width of one football field. Although these are a far cry from floating cities that some people have imagined for the future, it is not hard to see how the techniques and technologies used to create them might form the basis for such projects in the even further future.

Jules Undersea Lodge

Underwater habitats are already possible, though it should be noted that these make living beneath the ocean possible in the short run but not in the long run. (3) For example, the Jules Undersea Lodge is situated close to the state of Florida, which is convenient for couples who are interested in romantic getaways as well as the sheer spectacle of undersea weddings. Furthermore, it is worth noting that there are a number of research institutions that can be found far below the waves as well, which have been built there because their locations make it that much easier for their inhabitants to access the subjects of their research.

At the moment, there is little interest in actually building underwater cities for permanent human habitation, not least because any such project is likely to prove not just complicated and time-consuming but also extremely expensive in the long run. Simply put, the will is not there to provide such projects with the support that they would need to become something more than speculation.

jules-undersea-lodge-in-florida

Artificial Islands

Finally, it is worth noting the existence of artificial islands, which are exactly what they sound like, which is to say, islands that have been built through human intervention rather than natural causes. (4) Technically, artificial islands are like floating structures in that they are not a new concept, as shown by the crannogs of prehistoric Ireland and Scotland as well as the chinampas that the Aztecs once used to grow food in Lake Texcoco. However, modern techniques and technologies have made island-building more practical than ever before, which in turn, has encouraged interested institutions to build them bigger than even before.

For example, China, the Netherlands, and the United Arab Emirates have all engaged in such activities in modern times for a number of reasons that range from establishing their presence to creating more land for real estate purposes. Although artificial islands might not be as exciting as some of the other projects mentioned here, they do seem to be more practical, particularly since they do not necessarily have to be built from nothing but can be based around preexisting formations such as coral reefs and sand bars.

Further Considerations

It is impossible to tell what will happen in the future as techniques and technologies become more and more sophisticated even as water levels all around the world continue to rise. Although it is extremely unlikely that we will all end up living in underwater cities right out of science fiction, it is not unreasonable to believe that some of us will be living on floating structures as well as other solutions to the problem. Something that should provide interesting food for thought, if only because living by the ocean is known to provide a host of benefits.

References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanka_people
  2. http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20131101-living-on-the-ocean
  3. http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20130930-can-we-build-underwater-cities
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_island

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