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Post Info TOPIC: Ocean Colonies As the Next Frontier


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Ocean Colonies As the Next Frontier
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4/24/2011 @ 1:32AM |1.902 views

Ocean Colonies As the Next Frontier

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In theory, ocean colonies can float on platforms on the ocean surface, or be secured to the ocean floor, or float in various intermediate positions.  Interestingly, these ocean platforms, in legal terms, existing “outside” national sea boundaries, may develop in the future as “micro-nations” (one former World War II British anti-aircraft platform in the North Sea was declared by its new inhabitants as the Principality of Sealand – and the ruling “junta” issued stamps, designed an official flag, and named a national athlete).

One heavily promoted long-term project (hit by the recent global credit crunch) was an artificial archipelago in Dubai, United Arab Emirates – dubbed “The Palms” (actually there were several phases).  Major beachfront commercial and residential projects were planned on these reclaimed islands, yet these “new properties” were not real ocean settlements, but in the Dutch or Japanese tradition of creating more land along coastal areas (unfortunately, in the March 11 earthquake, Urayasu, a district famous for Tokyo Disneyland, suffered from flooding and road fissures due to the reclaimed land sinking).

Although the giant “The Palms” project is not the best example for future ocean colonization, the planning yields many clues and insights on how to design/promote future ocean settlements, since the hype for beach-front lot sales and luxury hotels attracted global attention.

At the core of the branding of “The Palms” is a real estate/leisure marketing angle, not unlike any resort market.  Yet, only tourists or pensioners will not create a long-term ocean colony viable. The best mix would be: long-term residents + workers/researchers + tourists + business deal-makers in a “colony/state” that is not based on one national “culture” but is beyond nation-state and “culture” (for example, what “official language” should the residents speak?  How is the colony governed?  Do residents have votes?  Is the colony administered under the laws of a near-by country?  How “near”?  Also, would a country or island-state object to an artificial ocean colony, even if it was hundreds of miles away from the neighbor’s own shoreline?)

Ultimately, the project (the first one is the model for many more, throughout the oceans) should be a fusion/blend of tourism/education/research/ entertainment/leisure/health programs.  The project should have luxury hotels, apartments, international schools/research universities, hospitals, top-rated restaurants, monorail (no cars), marinas, parks, museums, concert halls, shopping malls, sports facilities and health spas – like an ocean-based San Diego.  In fact, the planning for one section of “The Palms” projected 4,000 homes over several years and theme parks, including Discovery Cove, Sea World, and Bush Gardens – a sales brochure would point out: why not live next to a year-round aquarium/sea attraction theme park?  And taking the cue, an ocean colonization project brochure would state boldly: “Why not live IN an aquarium/sea attraction all year round?”

Aside from real estate/leisure development and sales angle, there must be academic research/education projects to give an ocean colony a solid scientific, environmental foundation.  (By coincidence or not, the Kennedy Space Center in Florida – for visitors to be educated about space exploration – is located a hour’s drive from Disney World and other Orlando-area theme parks – plus, there are many wildlife sanctuaries around the restricted Space Center area).  This leads back to an unusual experiment called Biosphere 2, built in Arizona and used as a laboratory from the late 1980s into the 2000s.

In hindsight, the sprawling Biosphere 2 (“1” was planet Earth, in the Gaia model) can be seen now as an early test for ocean colonization, since its objective was a “sustainable” closed environment, but on land, a micro-Planet Earth.  Anticipating the ocean colony concept, one section in the Biosphere 2 was an tiny “ocean” with a coral reef, plus there was a small rainforest, a wetland, a grassland, a fog desert, and an agricultural section – imagine a covered greenhouse, over several football fields.  Small fields toiled by researchers produced a variety of crops, including rice, wheat, and potatoes — food for the inhabitants (without artificial fertilizers).  (Studies showed that the teams living in the Biosphere were indeed healthy – although the periods were probably not long enough to be conclusive for long-term results.)

The Biosphere 2 project provided a laboratory to address some fundamental issues about energy, sustainability, agriculture, and human health – a future ocean colonization project can be filled with researchers and scientists working on many projects, like aquaculture, that could lead to enormous changes in sustainable fisheries, and create new materials, energy sources, and new inventions and industries.



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http://www.forbes.com/sites/raytsuchiyama/2011/04/24/ocean-colonies-as-the-next-frontier/2/

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