Colonizing Mars? How about the oceans first. The company Blue Frontiers is building the world's first "Seastead" in French Polynesia. And it will also be the world's most sustainable mini-city. Everflux plans to help.
I first learned about the idea of "Seasteading" at a conference in San Leandro, CA, called Prototyping The Future. It was an apt name - I had no idea how far some of these people were already sailing into the future, The final keynote address was given by Randy Hencken, then Managing Director of the non-profit Seasteading Institute, and now also one of five founders of a for-profit company called Blue Frontiers. He spoke of "colonizing the oceans" in a way that would not only protect, but restore ocean ecosystems, help humanity adapt to climate change, and relieve the resource and environmental strain of the world's crowded land-based cities.
I loosely followed the Seasteading Institute and subsequently Blue Frontiers' activity over the next nine months. The idea intrigued me, and the feeling that I somehow had to get involved wouldn't go away. I had always been interested in the idea of colonizing Mars, but having missed my opportunity to become an astronaut a long time ago, I felt like the possibilities of me ever being involved in Mars colonization were remote. But this... this was something much more accessible, and almost more admirable. "Let's learn how to take better care of the planet we've got, before going and messing up some other planet" a friend had once said to me about the idea of going to Mars. That sentiment stuck with me.
Then I read Joe Quirk's book, Seasteading. It outlines the entire, detailed case for Seasteading, addressing every reason for and against it. The book convinced me. This had to be the future. When I saw Joe and Randy at the Startup Societies conference in August, I offered to join what I soon learned was a large group of volunteers, envisioning how to make the first floating island a reality. Because this is not just a techno-fantasy - they already have a real project in the works.
In the last year there has been a flurry of media activity about the project. One such article appeared in the New York Times. The idea is to build a small floating platform off the coast of French Polynesia, in a special economic zone called a Seazone, that will showcase how larger floating cities could work. The French Polynesian government is right now considering legislation to legalize the Seazone, and after that Blue Frontiers will begin finalizing designs and planning construction of the project.
How does this all relate to Everflux? Anaerobic digesters will be really nice to have on floating cities. In fact, they may even be absolutely necessary. On a super-sustainable floating city, everything will have to be recycled. Not to mention the economics of such a project become three times better than on the mainland, because utilities like energy and waste management are typically three times as expensive.
So I've been working with the volunteer groups focused on food, water and energy, looking at how anaerobic digesters could be integrated in, as well as other sustainable technologies like solar, wind, heat pumps, water recycling, and many others. My ten plus years in the field of renewable energy and sustainability has given me knowledge of many technologies that could be useful on a Seastead.
And hopefully one day I will see my dream of recycling everything come to life on a floating island in the beautiful South Pacific.
About the Author
Daniel Enking is the founder of Everflux Technologies. He is a life-long environmentalist and practical dreamer who is obsessed with resource efficiency and imaged an "everything recycling machine" at age 10.