by Kim Pederson…….
The November 15 issue of The New York Times Magazine carries the title “The Future Is…” and the subtitle “Making Sense of What We Cannot Know.” One of the many interesting and mostly scary takes on the future, written by Jon Gertner, promises to tell us “The Secrets in the Ice.”
Gertner begins by observing that the earth’s largest island, Greenland, is now losing more of the gigantic ice sheet (650,000 square miles and 10,000 feet thick in places) than it gains from snowfall, reversing a trend that had extended back millennia. In fact, Greenland’s ice is shrinking 303 billion tons every year. Then he cheers us up more by recounting how sea levels would rise 200 feet if all the ice in Greenland and Antarctica melted. But it wouldn’t take nearly that much to destroy New Orleans or New York or Miami or, ulp, Key West. Just a mere five to ten feet and a few Sandy-like storms.
Yikes. Or maybe I should say YIKES! Our house sits on top of KW’s tallest hill, all of 12 or 14 feet above sea level. It seems I should begin investigating whether it can be fitted with pontoons and an internal propulsion mechanism of some sort. But that’s being selfish. What about everyone else here…or on the planet for that matter? Fortunately, scripted television, as it often does, has already depicted something that could save every coastally challenged individual now and forevermore.
The solution, of course, is the dome. In the short-lived CBS series Under the Dome (based on the Stephen King novel of the same name), the inhabitants of Chester’s Mills wake up one morning to find that “a massive, transparent, seemingly indestructible dome” has completely cut them off from the rest of the world. The people inside attempt to find out what it is, where it came from, and how to make it go away. They are more than a little worried because, well, they now only have so much air, food, medicine, etc. to survive on. Given the circumstances, no one probably stopped to think that they suddenly had become totally safe from the dangers of a catastrophic sea level rise. If I were there, I would have pointed this out to make everyone feel just a little bit better about their future prospects.
CBS and King likely intended the show as an object lesson for us. The earth is, after all, sealed inside its own dome. Yes, most of the resources we depend on are renewable but they may not always be so. That problem, though, will likely not occur until long after the coastal waters close over our heads. So I think the powers that be here in KW should volunteer us to be the “dome crash-test dummies.” Unlike SK’s version, our dome would permit ingress and egress, so we would live pretty much the same as we do now except submerged. This would have many advantages in addition to saving us from rising seas. We could stop worrying about hurricanes. We would have natural AC provided by the cooling ocean waters. We could be self-sufficient electrically through tidal technologies. We could increase our tourist business by becoming the world’s largest underwater aquarium (take that Dubai!). And we could forgo that pesky sunblock.
What’s not to like? This could work. We could show the world the way to the future. As an SK character says in the novel, “Close your eyes and click your heels together three times…because there’s no place like Dome.”
* An artist’s impression of an iceberg viewed from the side, with the majority underwater. “Iceberg” created by Uwe Kils (iceberg) and User:Wiska Bodo (sky). Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.
Visit Kim Pederson’s blog RatBlurt: Mostly Random Short-Attention-Span Musings.