The “Floating Ecopolis for Climate Refugees” (aka the Lilypad City) by French Architect, Vincent Callebaut was a concept design proposed in 2008 to deal with the effects of Global Warming as the polar ice caps melt and oceans rise; displacing land fairing inhabitants along the coasts.
Callebaut asserts that the earth’s temperature may rise as much as 1° Celsius in the 21st century, causing our oceans to rise as much as one full meter and displacing as many as 50 million people. He further asserts that if the oceans rise two meters, as many as 300 million people could be displaced.
So instead of the people moving inland (slowly over the span of 100 years as the water rises) the architect has designed a “unique” solution for all those people who have been (or will be) displaced by global flooding – move them onto the water.
But this city doesn’t just rise up and down with the tide. Callebaut wants the entire city to be able to float all around the world, moving on natural ocean currents. Callebaut says his lily pads can hold up to 50,000 people and won’t just sit there, they will move all around the world.
Oh my, where do I start?
Putting aside the controversial nature of whether global warming is or is not actually occurring, if (for the sake of argument) we give environmentalists the benefit of the doubt, the 1 or 2 meter rise that they speak of would occur over a time span of 100-200 years. So it not like people living along the coast are going to wake up one morning (in a surprise) and find that their feet are wet. There is plenty of time to clear land and move inland.
So, I’m puzzled as I try to figure out exactly what problem Vincent Callebaut is trying to solve. I’m even more puzzled in how he thinks that this design solves anything.
From the renderings, it appears that the facility will use built in windmills for power generation and we may assume that the other obvious problems such as desalinization plants (for water), sewage treatment & refuge may be worked in to the design. But where exactly are these 50,000 people going to grow their food? It takes .5 acres of land per person just to grow enough to survive and the design presented shows hardly any open land that could be used for agriculture.
Are there massive hydroponics facilities? Are these people going to be forced to live on fish & hydroponic vegetables? Or is there a cattle ranch and slaughterhouse somewhere within the “pad” interior? What about chickens or sheep? So, what exactly is the plan, to import everything?
I’m also curious as to what keeps the facility from smashing on the rocks or bottoming out on the ocean floor. Surely there must be some sort of propulsion, right? I’m not exactly sure how reasonable it is to think that you can get enough power to move such a monstrosity with electric batteries fueled by wind power, but maybe there are diesel engines that can be used for emergencies. Or better yet – Nuke Power.
Once a Lilypadian, always a Lilypadian. I guess once you become a citizen of the Lily pad city you are pretty much stuck there. It’s not big enough for an airport, sea planes don’t land in open water and helicopters pilots don’t fly out into the open ocean. I guess if the city happens to be close to shore (and near a city that had the foresight to move inland) you could just take a boat into town.
While you are there picking up supplies, (and wondering why you live on a boat with 50,000 other people when you could be living right here, on dry land) you might consider going into the import business, since your city would have no natural resources with which to manufacture goods.
But then again, how would Lilypadians pay for those imports? What does the Lilypad economy look like? Do they make – anything? Do they have textile facilities? Metallurgy? Or do they only import and consume? What value would these people bring to the world ports they visit?
Then there’s the legal stuff. What do you think the odds are that any nation is going to let the lilypad city, which is owned by some other nation, pull up and park off their coastline? And if their old country still exists, and wasn’t wiped off the map by the flood, then what the hell are they doing living on the damn lilypad in the first place?
Perhaps the Lilypad city not a city at all, but a gigantic ocean liner with people who are on vacation and have money to spend. This would actually make more sense. Maybe it is just another themed resort where one could buy a condo or timeshare and vacation for two weeks a year. For that matter, who financed this dream city, the displaced “refugees”? Not likely.
At the end of the day, the design is poorly thought out and doesn’t provide a solution to anything. Unless the earth gets completely covered in water like the movie Waterworld; which isn’t possible even if every ounce of ice melted; the whole concept is really just a dumb idea.
Two Thumbs Down.
Video Source: YouTube