With over six billion people living on Earth, cities are becoming more crowded every day. One way of treating this problem is to expand onto the oceans, not just land. After all, three quarters of our planet's surface is covered with water. Centuries ago the Aztecs lived on artificial islands, so why not people in the twenty-first century? Dubai made the now-famous palm tree islands—man-made islands shaped like palms when viewed from above. A man-made island concept, the “lilypad city”, is another solution.

The lilypad city would be a self-sufficient floating metropolis. Residents would enjoy ocean views and a community removed from the mainland. The whole structure floats so it can drift around the world, gradually accumulating a globally diverse population. Imagine traveling from New England to Great Britain without leaving your house. Your entire neighborhood casually wonders from one major coast to another. Floating cities would be perfect for people who love to travel, and they could give emergency residence to coastal flood/tsunami victims. With so much more area than land, the seas should have plenty of room for “seasteaders”. Perhaps we will populate the oceanic frontier before we more thoroughly explore the “final frontier”.

An interesting complication arises with this situation: independence. When groups of people live on international waters, they can, and have in the past, decide to become micronations. With sufficient resources a floating city can form its own government and try to be internationally recognized. Many people have wanted to do just this—starting fresh with a politically clean slate. In the future, groups of like-minded people might simply build floating cities or islands and start new governments, experimenting more freely with power structure than today's slow-changing developed countries. A floating micronation would have the luxury of choosing its geographic neighbors. When mainland political/economic conditions become undesirable, a floating city can move to a more desirable shoreline. When a city moves somewhere else, it takes its consumers—and their business—with it. In much the same way that cruise ships cause economic booms in coastal communities, floating cities could become a source of competition in the tourism industry. Ground-based cities might cater their economies to the tastes of wandering metropolises in order to attract the cultural and monetary exchanges that follow. If the floating cities could be made to interconnect with each other, then popular ones could grow larger by combining with others. If your city likes the government, economy, culture, etc. of another one, then you can physically join with it and form one city that is twice as large. Then floating nations' existences and sizes are determined by the free market system. Maybe, eventually, a new country would emerge with a government that functions better than any in the world today.

If floating cities will ever catch on, there are some serious obstacles to overcome. The first problem is the huge initial capital needed to build such a city. As mentioned on Create your Cosmos, cities like Hong Kong and Dubai are well suited for this job. Another problem is protection. If a group of people renounce their mainland citizenship to become a micronation, then who do they call on when attacked by a hostile country or pirates? What about storms? Hurricanes, tsunamis, and other oceanic phenomena would pose real risks for structures not built to withstand them. Are the potential benefits worth the risks?

Featured Image 02/17/2011


I can imagine a lot of people have been wishing for less snow lately. The desire to control the weather is not new; in fact it is ancient. Rain dances have long been used in cultures around the world. Various deities have been deemed responsible for weather. Praying or sacrificing to these gods were ways of trying to influence the forces of nature. To this day, we are still trying to gain power over the elements.

The most common way of purposely affecting the weather is cloud seeding, or enhancing water droplet formation. Various materials, such as silver iodide, are dispersed into the atmosphere and cause water vapor to collect and form water droplets. If there is enough water vapor present, then rain should soon occur. The effectiveness of this technique, however, is not always accepted. Other ways of impacting weather have been devised, but many people are skeptical of them. Perhaps with today's advanced weather monitoring technologies we will soon be able to definitively test methods of weather control. If we can observe a phenomenon more precisely, then we should more clearly see any effects our actions have on it.

Is it a good idea to govern our atmospheric conditions—disrupting nature's harmony? If one town forces rain to fall, then the next town will be deprived. A hurricane that is steered away from one coastline will probably devastate another. In the wrong hands, these capabilities could be far more destructive than life-saving. This prospect has been seriously considered enough to be illegalized. Do we really want the power to direct the paths of storms?

Featured Image 02/03/2011