Artificial Island Structures: The Future of the Pacific?

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Fabrizio Bozzato discusses the consequences of rising sea level for Pacific island nations and suggests a possible solution for them: artificial islands. 

 

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Interview by Daniel Pagan Murphy

Read below the speech pronounced by Fabrizio Bozzato at the 2012 International Austonesian Conference in Taipei (November, 28th, 2012).

Dry Land: Artificial Islands as New Oceanscapes

Fabrizio Bozzato

Abstract

Climate change induced sea level rise now threatens to redraw the physical geographical map of the world, radically altering coastlines and creating new ocean areas. Not since the submersion of the legendary Atlantis has the world witnessed the actual physical disappearance of a state. The extreme vulnerability of low-lying coastal areas and islands to sea encroachment is now notorious, with the most serious threat being to the continued viability and actual existence of island states such as Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Marshall Islands. Among the likely scenarios for some of these vanishing islands countries in the course of the next century, there is the possibility that, by relocating their populations on artificial islands, they could continue having some sort of status analogous to statehood even if they were to lose all territory. As some political leaders in the Pacific Islands Region have already suggested, artificial islands could become alternative human habitats for landless island peoples. Developed during the 1960's with the appearance of private-owned experiments in creative sovereignty, the habitation of the oceans on artificial islands and structures now starts to find more acceptable, and thus practical, applications. Major examples of inhabited artificial islands or structures are already in existence in the Caspian Sea, Dubai and the Maldives. Therefore, artificial islands are possible future "oceanscapes" that embrace the rising sea instead of resisting it. However, the narrative of oceanic artificial islands is not limited to new "Noah's Arks" for otherwise environmental refugees, but it includes social and technology utopians envisaging libertarian floating countries, conservationists planning to turn the plastic flotsam of the Pacific Ocean into inhabited and environmentally-friendly islands, and visionary architects designing futuristic energy self-sufficient floating islands or self-assembling sea-cities. This paper argues that the idea of using artificial islands as new national territories and/or futuristic human habitats is noteworthy, and it is yet to be taken under consideration by both the scientific community and policy makers. Today's and tomorrow's diverse "New Atlantises" pose legal, scientific, political, moral and ecological questions that warrant investigation and reflection, independently of the actual realization of those projects and utopias.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 08 January 2014 17:33
Fabrizio Bozzato (杜允士)

Fabrizio Bozzato, born in 1973 in the Veneto Region (Italy), is a political analyst with a double expertise in Pacific Studies and China-Holy See relations. He holds an M.A. in International Relations (University of Tasmania, Australia) and a Master in Political Science (Milan State University, Italy). He also attained a Grad. Dip. in International Politics with high distinction (University of Tasmania, Australia). He has worked with the Centre for International and Regional Affairs at the University of Fiji (Fiji Islands) and is currently living in Taiwan, where he is an Associate Researcher at the Institute. Fabrizio is presently pursuing a PhD in International Affairs and Strategic Studies at Tamkang University. He believes that "the currents of the global ocean are shifting from the Atlantic to the Pacific Rim, and especially Asia." [Langi Kavaliku].

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