I wrote this a couple of years ago and was reminded of it recently by a friend, so I decided to post it in a effort to make up for my lack of blogging and to make up for my otherwise boring econo-blogs.
A friend of mine asked me to describe Bahrain in 200 years time, as a sort of exercise in imagination. The first thing that came to my mind as I drove back that night, was of superconductor highways that crisscrossed over the land and electromagnetically charged vehicles floating along, their speed and course regulated by sophisticated circuitry. The idea had instant appeal, especially as I was cruising along watching complete idiots driving with absolutely no regard for their own or anyone else's lives. My mind was filled with images of fabulous sedans without wheels that hovered down to pick up passengers and then gently and silently rose up and sped away, their on-board computers in complete control of its course and trajectory. ‘Traffic’ computers would control the system and regulate the flow to prevent any form of accidents happening or any horsing around. It was promising. A bit too rigid, but a transportation system was only a beginning anyway.
I began to think on a larger scale and was soon brought to that supreme example of terra-forming, the Palm Islands of the coast of Dubai. Easily visible from space (not saying much though, cause so are the numbers on your credit card), it nonetheless ‘brands’ itself in a copyright-like circle as the land of the Palms (notwithstanding the fact that others might have a greater claim to that title). ** (Keep in mind I wrote this well over two years ago and we now have many similar examples of terraforming in Bahrain.)
However, landfilling and reclamation seems too physical intrusive and extremely damaging to the environment for my taste, but there was a limited amount of land available in Bahrain and with 200 years of population growth, it simply wasn’t enough.
So it had to be out at sea. And I love the sea. So here is my pitch: Build platforms onto the sea rather than bury it away. Keep the marine environment underneath you as it provides a source of food, income and much more. And you can shape them any way you want! My image was of Bahrain as un upside down teardrop, with arches that reached out from Budaiya and Muharraq to create a semi circle that met to create the new Bab to Bahrain. The gleaming metal and plastic superstructures would reflect the sun’s rays and shine like a pearl in the sea.
How would it work, you ask?
Advancing undersea drilling techniques used in building oil rigs to create a stable platform that multi-story structures can be built upon. The basic construction material used in filling out the aluminium (we’ve got tons of it) skeleton would be super toughened see-through plastic resin sheets (I figure with the world’s leading producer of petrochemicals and plastics next door, they’ll come up with this in 200 years time, easy). The overall effect would be of a large collection of shiny boxes built up. The lower levels would be clear and allow the sun light through to heat seawater collected in massive solar powered distillation tanks that could provide clean drinking water as well as using the steam to power turbines that can generate electricity. As one got higher into the heavy traffic areas, the resin sheets would be tinted darker and in a range of colors. This would enable both privacy and personal expression (with photoelectric cells, it could be done at the flick of a switch). Then you’ve got the fish farms to cultivate food and biomass, underwater turbines to generate electricity, and super-sophisticated waste processing plants. We could go on and on and on…..
Unfortunately, the Gulf is too shallow and warm, otherwise, we could really push the boat out and try to tap into cold deep sea currents for energy, horticulture and air-conditioning.
With all due credit to David Wingrove and John Pina Craven (whose ideas this is all based on)