Waterworld? Floating Cities Turn Hollywood Sci-fi Into Reality As Sea Levels Rise

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“Coastal cities are literally the interface between man and nature. That is where it is happening,” spoke Marc Collins, the former tourism minister of French Polynesia and founder of Oceanix as we sat together in Bryant Park beneath the towers of Manhattan. Collins has a crazy dream: to build floating cities all over the world. I listen to him not just because I enjoy wild ideas and quixotic endeavors, but mostly because I know that he is probably right: for communities facing rising sea levels and municipalities looking to cash in on creating new coastal property, the sea is the final frontier.

Humans have always been drawn to the coast to build our cities, but today this draw has increased to epidemic proportions, as two to three million people globally migrate to cities each week, with coastal cities now containing over 50% of the world’s population. According to UN Habitat, by 2035 90% of all megacities — cities with over ten million people — will be on coastlines. This is where the high property values are, this is where the bulk of economic opportunities are, and across Asia governments have been going gaga over further developing their coastlines — even going as far as artificially creating massive amounts of new waterfront property via land reclamation. Meanwhile, sea levels are rising at an ever-accelerating clip, and many coastal cities — even entire island civilizations — are in danger of being washed away within the next century.