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Floating city is our future

Rising sea levels have long been considered a major climate catastrophe. As sea levels rise, the lowlands of many countries are at risk of drowning.

Partially submerged or floating habitats have been discussed for a long time as a long-term solution to this problem.

Although seemingly a science fiction, such a settlement can be found in Waterburst, Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands. It is called ‘floating mahalla’. A wide white jetty defines the boundaries of this neighborhood.

Residents of a three-storey house built on a small lake on the eastern edge of the capital can be seen fishing or diving in the afternoon. Next to the wide, white jetty railings of the lake are some benches, bicycles and barbecue stoves. There is an orange security fence 10 meters apart.

An organization called Monteflore has been working on the submerged housing project. The project consists of about 100 floating houses.

The Netherlands has a reputation for considering the environment and using innovative designs in construction. For these reasons, the capital Amsterdam is suitable in all respects for experimental projects like the floating city. In addition, the Netherlands has the lowest altitude among European countries and is at risk of sinking if global warming increases.

The floating city alone is not the only pilot project in the Netherlands.

There is a state-of-the-art farm 55 kilometers south of Amsterdam. There, a farmer is seen walking along the sidewalk or gangway to the stables, taking several cows. The artificial path, which is made up of large tankers and cargo ships at the wharf adjacent to Rotterdam, leads to floating stables.

The Dutch farmer told the BBC while feeding the cows a handful of hay that the night the cows first came there, he did not get a single drop of sleep that night due to various worries. However, everything went according to plan and the cows were able to adapt easily to the environment around the sea.

Hurricane Sandy, which struck New York, has been the inspiration behind the idea of ​​building a floating farm. Farmer Van Wingarden and his partner Peter are the architects of this plan.

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Transportation and food supplies in New York were severely disrupted after Sandy’s injury in 2012, and Manhattan City stores were closed for weeks on end. At that time Peter, a Dutch citizen, decided to build a climate tolerant farm. Back in the Netherlands, he and his partner Van Wingarden set about building this floating farm.

The activities of this state-of-the-art farm started in 2019. Now there are 40 cows. There is a natural meadow and a floating farm next to the jetty as a place for cows to roam. They use a ladder-like gangway to get to and from these two places.

This is the first floating farm in the world. Milk, cheese and yoghurt are produced as food items from this farm. In addition, a large quantity of dung obtained from here can be used for fuel production. The goods reach the consumer by motorbikes or electric vans over short distances. Organic waste from the city is recycled and fed to cattle. This organic waste includes everything from restaurant leftovers to the grass left over from the local football team’s own stadium in Feyenoord.

Van Wingarden said he also has plans to build floating vegetable farms and poultry farms in the future. “I think a bright future awaits the floating farm,” he said.

The people of the Netherlands are living successfully in floating houses and have even built farms on the water. The next question is, when will it be possible to build a floating city?

According to a BBC report, Oceanics, a US-backed US agency, is leading some such initiatives. They are building livable, large floating habitats for humans. They said they would build the world’s first tolerant and sustainable floating habitat for 10,000 people on a 75-hectare site.

Mark Collins Chen, CEO of Oceanics, said coastal cities have two options for tackling sea level rise. The first is to build a large wall on the beach, which is not really an effective solution. It is never possible to build a high wall to stop the tide. The second and only viable solution is to build floating housing.

Although called a ‘floating city’, Oceanics’ initial plans include a large floating ‘district’, not a city. These floating districts could be an extension of large cities such as Jakarta and Shanghai, which are already struggling with rising sea levels. The new cities will be built on 2 hectares of wide, floating triangular land, where 300 people can live comfortably. In addition to accommodation, there will be separate areas for farming and recreational activities. Small villages or mahallas can be formed by joining multiple triangles together.

Chen added that Oceanics plans to build infrastructure that is tolerant of hostile weather. According to the plan, these habitats will not use fossil fuels. All work will be done through renewable energy. In addition, the company plans to meet the full demand for protein internally in floating cities.

While it may seem strange to hear such plans as science fiction, will such a city really exist in our lifetime?

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In response to this question, Chen said that the idea of ​​a floating city has already been implemented on a limited scale and we will see a prototype city in the next few years.

Interestingly, the idea of ​​a floating city seems to have emerged from the pages of science fiction, but in reality, people have been living in this type of habitat for centuries.

In a book on ethnic culture, Harvard University lecturer Julia Watson describes at least 64 incidents of different ethnic groups. Where ancient peoples also built floating habitats, which were durable and climate tolerant.

Yet some small ethnic groups live in such settlements. For example, on the border of Bolivia and Peru, on the island of Titicaca, there is a reed island made by the Uru people.

Reviewing the successful and happy lives of the floating human community in Amsterdam’s Waterburt, it is possible to build a floating city in any country of the world. Cities, especially those located on rivers or seas, can be easily expanded and transformed into floating cities.

But floating cities are not a permanent solution to the global climate crisis. This may lead to a temporary solution, but in the long run, environmental pollution, sea level rise and other climate problems must be addressed.

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