Rising Sea Levels, Disappearing Countries and Floating Houses

The Ice Age. The Industrial Revolution. Global Warming. The Gulf War. The Tsunami of 2004. Hurricane Katrina of 2005. Melting glaciers. Disappearing countries. This is the magic act that we have struggled to understand for three centuries.  These conditions are by fault of both nature and us. Since the Industrial Revolution, we’ve been emitting large deposits of carbon dioxide into the Earth’s atmosphere, drastically heating the Earth’s core, and thus creating situations we haven’t had to face since the onset of the Ice Age. On the brink of a major climate shift, nations are searching for practical solutions.

The issue of global warming and cooling has been on the table since the 1820s when Joseph Fourier proposed that gasses in the Earth’s atmosphere could make it difficult for penetrated heat to escape back into Space, resulting in what is known as the “Greenhouse Effect.” Once the levels pf carbon dioxide dispersed in Earth’s atmosphere were confirmed in the 1950s as correlating with planet temperature, the race for answers was on. Finding a solution to global warming is much more complexly involved than simply restricting gas and oil usage, both involving multi-billion dollar industries. With evidence of the planet’s climate shift more in the forefront now than ever, individual governments have to begin to take action  where big business won’t.

Rising seas and melting glaciers have posed a huge problem for nations whose land lies below, at or just a few feet above sea level. Some of these nations have already proposed environmental emergency plans. The Republic of the Maldives, an island nation that lies about 700 km (435 miles) southwest of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean, is one of them. Resting at an average height of 1.5 meters (4 ft. 11 in) above sea level with its highest point at 2.3 meters (7 ft. 7 in), it is the lowest country on the planet. Republic of Maldives view from SpacePhoto: NASA


Over the past century, the nation has witnessed a 20 cm (8 in.) sea level increase. In 2008, President Mohamed Nasheed announced mass emigration plans from the islands of the Maldives to the mainlands of India, Sri Lanka and Australia. He also proposed buying land in these countries in the event that rising sea levels threaten the existence of the country’s 1,192 islets (about 200 of which are currently inhabited). However, perhaps the most intriguing and most recent government proposal is artificially rebuilding the city on a sub-aquatic, star-shaped platform.

sub aquatic plan for MaldivesPhoto: inhabitat

An agreement was made in March 2010 between the Maldives government and the Dutch Docklands/Dutch Watervalley to execute development plans for floating facilities and amphibious mini-cities. With the decimation of the ozone-layer, climate shifts, global warming and the constant carbon dioxide print of urbanites, current sea levels are expected to rise by 59 cm (23 in) by 2100, creating a huge threat to the existence of the nation’s islands.

While floating houses and urban centers may seem like something out of a sci-fi movie, for nations like  the Republic of the Maldives that are in serious danger of losing their land and economy, nothing is too bizarre or ridiculous.

Sources: 1, 2, 3