Is America’s coastline going to be swamped in a few decades by rapidly rising sea levels due to climate change? Yes. Has the virtual certainty of this happening already affected certain markets? Also yes. Is there anything we can do about it other than stock up on water wings or move to Nebraska? Yes, there is. We can build ourselves some darn islands.
That’s impossible, you’re probably saying. An island is a natural, geological occurrence; you can’t just build one out of thin air. But that’s where you’re wrong. A lake is a natural geological occurrence, too, but that didn’t stop my high school girlfriend’s parents from building one in the front yard of their McMansion. (After I drove my car into it at 3AM, I convinced them it was because my brakes had gone out, but really I was just on mushrooms.) In fact, Qatar is almost done building the world’s largest artificial island, a $15 billion monstrosity called the Pearl-Qatar.
Started in 2004, the Pearl-Qatar is already home to 12,000 people and will eventually have almost nineteen thousand dwellings. Modeled on Venice (isn’t it bad luck to base your new island on the world’s most famously sinking city?), the Pearl has an extensive canal system, and plenty of pedestrian-friendly plazas. (According to Wikipedia, they also have a Caribou Coffee.) Why did they build it? The same reason professional athletes have like 850 pairs of shoes; because they have too much money. Still, the project proves that island-building can be done on a large scale. If Miami, which is being swamped at a truly alarming rate, has 5 million people, and the Pearl-Qatar can hold 50,000 when fully completed, that means we only need to build a hundred of these, at a cost of $1.5 trillion. Should be a cinch, since America has so much extra money lying around, and it’s so easy to get our government to do important stuff. (Just ask Flint, Michigan!)
But yeah, I could imagine someone looking at the Pearl-Qatar and saying, “sure, I like the idea of having an artificial island as the flood waters visibly rise around me, but at the same time, I don’t want to be tied down either, you know, man?” I know, man. It’s a good thing they also make mobile islands.
Manufactured by Migaloo Private Submersible Yachts, the Kokomo Island is essentially a huge rectangular submarine with a massive platform on top of it. Standing 250 feet tall, this opulent but, quite frankly, hideous structure has eight engines below the water, and can bake the lake at speeds up to eight miles per hour. It features hanging gardens, an artificial beach, a penthouse on stilts (reachable by elevator), a helipad, a theater, and a below-the-water dining room so while you eat you can ponder the fact that you’re sitting in a hundred ton steel structure somehow suspended over what’s, for all practical purposes, a bottomless void of death. Fun! No word on exact price, but a similar luxury portable island costs $12.5 million, so it’s safe to say you can’t afford it.
But no matter your budget, you can still build yourself a private island. In the New Zealand town of Whangmata, drunken New Year’s festivities had gotten so out of hand that the city government banned alcohol on the holiday. But a group of resourceful locals gathered some wooden planks, shovels, and a bunch of sand, and built an island out in the middle of the bay at an approximate coast of “nothing.” Since the new island was in “international waters” (probably not really, but whatever), they were allowed to set up a picnic table on their new sovereign island and get drunk, well out of the reach of the long arm of the law. It didn’t look pretty, but it got the job done. And I couldn’t think of a better cause. Saving humanity from rising ocean levels is fine, I guess, but I think we can all agree that getting drunk on New Year’s Eve is more urgent.