Seasteading Part 1: Technology Overview

By: Shafer Higgins, Cheyenne Keeler, and Alexia Coston

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Concept

“Seasteading” is a term that was originally coined by author Ken Neumeyer in his 1981 book Sailing the Farm and it stems from the movement of homesteading. Seasteading refers to “building politically independent cities that float on the ocean”.  In 2008, Patri Freidman founded The Seasteading Institute, “a nonprofit think-tank working to provide a machinery of freedom to choose new societies on the blue frontier based on the notion that the most successful floating cities can inspire change around the world”.  The Institute has become the main driver of the seasteading movement and sees seasteading as the solution for ecological disasters such as rising water levels, flooding, and overpopulation. In this series of three blog posts, we will cover seasteading’s progress, benefits, market applications, and barriers to success.

Progress to Make Seasteading a Viable Option

On January 13, 2017, the French Polynesian government signed an agreement with The Seasteading Institute to start developing the Floating Island Project. The goal of this project is to allow French Polynesia to adapt to rising sea levels and form an island that creates an environment of innovation. The island is planned to be approximately the size of a soccer field and should be ready for habitation by 2020 for between 250-350 residents.

In addition to building the island itself, the Floating Island Project will also have to plan for all the necessities that residents will need. These necessities, shown in the diagram below, include elements of the total solution, including food and water sources, reliable power and energy, and emergency services.

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Figure 1. Elements required for Seasteading to be viable

How Seasteading Will Benefit the World

The Seasteading Institute believes seasteading can help solve global challenges based on what it calls The Eight Great Moral Imperatives. The following diagram shows the Eight Great Moral Imperatives, which are described below the diagram.

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Figure 2. The Eight Great Moral Imperatives
  1. Enrich the poor: According to The Seasteading Institute, “when an island or peninsula breaks free from a larger country and creates its own legal structure, dramatic increases in prosperity often occur within one generation”.
  2. Cure the sick: Seasteading plans to eliminate restrictions on medical innovations such as stem cell therapy.
  3. Clean the atmosphere: According to The Seasteading Institute, “large algae store more carbon than the world’s forests and can be sustainably farmed to transform CO2 into food and fuel”.
  4. Feed the hungry: Algae can be transformed into food and fuel and it is high in protein.
  5. Mariculture research: In addition to algae, seasteads will serve as epicenters for mariculture research, designed to cultivate fish and other marine life for food. The world is currently overfished and seasteads plan on reinventing current fishing practices.
  6. Power the world: According to The Seasteading Institute, “The ocean is the largest solar panel in the world. Every day tropical oceans absorb three times the amount of energy that the world currently consumes”.
  7. Living in balance: The Seasteading Institute states that, “DeltaSync, an aquatic engineering firm, calculates that ecological harmony with nature can be attained with only 13% of Earth’s human population living on water”.
  8. Stop fighting: The concept of seasteading believes that governance will improve. The Seasteading Institute claims that, “Governments with one-size-fits-all solutions are not appropriate for contemporary global problems…On a fluid frontier, citizens could sail about and choose the states they want. When we can vote with our homes, governments will compete to serve citizens”. Hence, seasteading can offer radical changes in governance.

Conclusion

This overview of the history, progress, and objectives of seasteading demonstrates that seasteading is no longer an unrealistic idea. As the Floating Island Project progresses, it will be interesting to see the technological advancements and ecological impact that seasteading has on the world.

Our next blog posts will discuss use cases and barriers to entry.

Sources

[1] The Seasteading Institute. (2017, October 14). Retrieved October 1, 2017, from https://www.seasteading.org/

[2] The Seasteading Institute. (2017, October 14). Retrieved October 1, 2017, from https://www.seasteading.org/

[3] The Seasteading Institute. (2017, October 14). Retrieved October 1, 2017, from https://www.seasteading.org/

[4] The Seasteading Institute. (2017, October 14). Retrieved October 1, 2017, from https://www.seasteading.org/

[5] The Seasteading Institute. (2017, October 14). Retrieved October 1, 2017, from https://www.seasteading.org/

[6] The Seasteading Institute. (2017, October 14). Retrieved October 1, 2017, from https://www.seasteading.org/

[7] The Seasteading Institute. (2017, October 14). Retrieved October 1, 2017, from https://www.seasteading.org/

Pictures

[1] http://vincent.callebaut.org/zoom/projects/151223_aequorea/aequorea_pl041.jpg</strong

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