Tag Archives: permaculture

Concrete Modular Floating Islands Could Solve Poverty, Pollution, and Refugee Crises

There are currently about 100 million people who are living homeless because they had to flee a war zone, and there are just as many homeless people living in “peaceful” countries. A billion people live on less than $2.50 per day, and two more billion people live below the poverty line because they don’t have access to resources or opportunities.

Despite the world spending over $100 billion dollars on humanitarian aid and trillions more on public infrastructure, poverty is only getting worse, because traditional cities separate people from sources of jobs, food, water, utilities, entertainment, and education. The current housing system is designed to make real-estate more expensive, the more conveniently located it is, which means the poorer you are, the more expensive, dangerous, discouraging, unhealthy and opportunity-less your life will be.

If every country pitched in to pool together $50 trillion, they could solve extreme poverty and refugee crises by building a self-sustainable apartment complex/office building in the shape of a ring, 100 miles in diameter, where every resident will have immediate access to food, water, shelter, jobs, and transportation. As long as predatory capitalists don’t take over the city and raise prices and lower wages to extortion levels, every resident would be able to live fear-free for life.

A project of this size would face many hurdles. One of the biggest would be, where to build it? One solution to that problem is to build it on water. This approach would be more expensive, but the benefits might outweigh the cost.

It wouldn’t take much engineering to build a floating city. Instead of building a huge, floating base and then putting a city on top of it, build hollow modules that connect together. Then, a big wave wouldn’t knock any houses or businesses over, because everyone would be living and working “underground.” The surface area could be used to grow food and raise animals.

All you need to make a floating house is a boat hull. You could cast them out of concrete. Engineers have been building hollow concrete boats and caissons for years.

The technology could be easily adapted to mass producing floating houses. Or you could make the hulls out of fiberglass or steel. It might be more expensive, but it would cost less to build a modular fiberglass bobber house than to build a shack in Honolulu or New York City.

Even the sturdiest buoy city would be capsized by a mega wave on the open ocean eventually, but instead of building a monolithic island in international waters, you could connect a line of modular floating homes along the coast of a relatively protected body of water, like the Caspian Sea or the Great Lakes.

If this mega structure were built in the Mediterranean Ocean, you could create a walkable path from Africa to Europe. Refugees wouldn’t use it to invade Europe because they would already have ocean-front property and everything they need to raise a family. You could use that path as a new trade route, and the new most popular tourist destination in the world.

We wouldn’t need to fight over one location for the project. The governments of the world could build one hundred module factories around the world and gradually build a chain around every protected body of water. Life might be so idyllic, the majority of humans will flee the mainland and leave it to Mother Nature.

I believe the environmental benefit of a floating civilization would outweigh the risks. Since all the food, water and utilities would be created in-house, less packaging and transportation would be needed to get the necessities of life from their point of creation to consumption. The modules could be equipped with traps that filter pollution out of the water, and the hulls of the boats would provide new artificial reefs for fish to eat from.

This idea is crazy for being outside the norm, but not because it’s unfeasible. The richest 1,200 people in the world have over $50 trillion sitting in their bank accounts not doing anything. That’s more than enough money to house every refugee and homeless person in the world off-land. Even if governments footed the entire bill themselves, the money they’d save in humanitarian aid and social services would pay for itself quickly. Plus, it would create jobs, lower unemployment, food scarcity and real estate costs.

Sadly, that’s why the governments of the world would never conspire to build this. If governments cared about their people, they wouldn’t have invested their tax dollars on building unsustainable habitats to begin with. The rich need the poor to live in constant fear and danger because that gives them the leverage to exploit the helpless. Our cities are designed to create scarcity because it lowers workers’ and consumers’ bargaining power, which allows businesses to raise prices and lower wages. Extreme poverty and refugee crises exist because the global economy is designed to oppress and exploit the poor.

It’s almost impossible to get rich without gouging your customers and/or employees. So most rich people would be acting contrary to their past behavior if they donated their fortune to building a self-sustainable floating refugee camp, but there are a lot of philanthropists out there with more money than they know what to do with. Hopefully, some of them find the motive to give back to the world they’ve taken so much from.

If compassion and foresight won’t compel the rich to mass-produce floating city modules, greed should. The first person to streamline the process will become the Donald Trump of the seas. After Trump runs America into the ground, building a new nation at sea might be his only hope of redemption. Granted, being the greedy sociopathic narcissist that he is, his city would probably be full of slaves serving masters. However, if he can establish and improve floating island technology, it would be worth it as proof of concept. Then better people can copy his architecture and build the humanitarian communities we’ve been waiting for.

As a compromise, an island-loving billionaire like Mark Zuckerberg, could build a modular island factory, produce a string of islands, and after all the agriculture jobs are filled, train new residents as computer programmers, give them jobs that generate a profit, and keep a portion until the cost of construction is repaid, then give the employee ownership of their module.

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Sustainable Monasteries Could Solve Poverty, Pollution, And Refugee Crises

The most popular Youtube vlogger is Pewdiepie, a Swedish man-child who posts videos about playing video games and acting silly in his computer room. Pewdiepie currently posts about one blog each weak, which means, in the time between each of his posts, at least 1,900 civilians died horrible war-related deaths somewhere in the world, and that’s a very conservative estimate.

List of war-related deaths by country. At the top are Syria, South Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Nigeria

The civilians who survive these conflicts are only technically lucky. Over 22 million people are living in foreign countries right now because they’ve had to flee the apocalyptic death, destruction and destitution in their birth-land. That’s not counting the 65 million people who have fled their homes but haven’t left their country. This means there are about 100 million people who are homeless because they would die if they went home.

There are 65 million forcibly displace people worldwide including refugees, homeless, and stateless people

That number doesn’t count the 100 million people in the world who are just old-fashioned homeless, or the 1.3 billion people who have homes and jobs but are working themselves to death while starving in a shit-covered tin hut with no water, electricity or sanitation.

In conflict zones, it’s hard to get real numbers how many people are suffering, but we know that over 3 billion people live on under $2.50 per day. These statistics don’t highlight a few isolated travesties. Almost half the population of the world lives in extreme poverty, and there are still several billion more who make more than $2.50 per day and live below the poverty level.

Basically, if you have running water, air conditioning, heat, a bed, pornography and an education, you’re one of the most privileged people in the entire world. Drop to your knees and thank God if the worst problem in your life is that nobody loves you.

If you factor in all the money countries and nongovernment agencies spend on humanitarian aid each year, the cost easily eclipses $100 billion dollars each year. The world could afford to spend more money to fight poverty, but it spends over $2 trillion on the militaries which are displacing people. So taxpayers are spending more money on creating humanitarian crises than solving them.

We already spend trillions of dollars every year on infrastructure that is supposed to help people live functionally, but it hasn’t solved the problem because it addresses the problem in a roundabout way that creates more problems than it solves. All the roads, plumbing, and power lines haven’t saved the poor in Detroit or any other major city in the world.

This makes the problem seem unsolvable, but the solution is really very simple. All people need to be happy and healthy are food, clothing, shelter, water, electricity, jobs, transportation and access to markets. If you built a ring-shaped apartment complex with 100 million condos and offices, then dug a man-made river encircling the entire building and used that to water gardens and orchards, you could give the people living there agriculture jobs and a never-ending supply of food and water.

With those problems solved, some workers could specialize in other jobs, which they could reach by walking across the hallway in their apartment complex. Every business would be connected by one road that would never get congested. The bigger you make the diameter of the circular building, the more external markets it would have access to.

Basically, the complex would operate like a secular monastery the size of a major city. You could also think of it as a permanent, self-sustaining refugee camp. As long as the residents don’t have to pay rent, receive an equitable percentage of the profits their work produces, and aren’t overcharged for the goods and services the monastery sells, then everyone will always have everything they need, and nobody would live in destitution or fear thereof.

How would you pay for such a mega project, and who would build it?  It costs about $120 per square foot to build a traditional house, but if you built the refugee camp/monastery using earthbags, you could bring the construction cost down as low as $10 per square foot. Since all that dirt will need to be dug up anyway, you can use the dirt from digging the reservoir/water channel/moat around the complex.

It would take thousands, if not millions of people to build a structure the length of a small country, but earthbag construction is relatively simple. You could simply have the 100 million refugees do the work and then move into the home they built when they’re done. Then they would have a sense of ownership, pride and shared identity with their fellow coworkers/neighbors.

The richest 1,400 people in the world have $5.4 trillion dollars just sitting in their bank accounts, not doing anything. If each apartment unit in the earthbag megastructure is 500 square feet and costs $10 per square foot, you could build 1 billion, eighty-five million units with $5.4 trillion. This figure doesn’t take all the building costs into account, but to put this in perspective, it costs $1 billion per mile to dig an underground tunnel to reduce traffic congestion. You could build a mile of earthbag apartments with a road, gardens, utilities and an aqueduct for far less than $1 billion per mile, especially if you built it in the middle of Africa, Russia or China where property values are low.

We have the money to end extreme poverty in less than five years. We just need to stop spending it on constructing and repairing inefficient cities full of economic dead zones, and build a mega-home that fills all its residents’ basic needs.

The picture below has the aquifer in the center of the building instead of a moat around it, but it still illustrates my proposal.

1. Buy a field. 2. Build a circular sandbag monastery. 3. Build greenhouses. 4. Work and expand. 5. Replace suburbs and refugee camps with sustainable eco-ring monasteries

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Secular, Intellectual Monastery Designs

I’ve come to believe that if businesses treated their workers more like modern day monks in a for-profit secular monastery instead of disposable slaves then the economy would be more stable and (more importantly) the quality of life for human beings would be higher, which would, in turn, reduce all the social ailments that come along with an impoverished, discontented population.

Below are two architectural models I’ve designed that illustrate potential floor plans for secular monasteries as well as IKEA instructions for building walls and roofs. These models are not drawn to scale and are not final drafts. They also represent best-case (i.e. best funded) scenarios. Click on the pictures to enlarge them.

Brochure showing a 3-D design of a circular, sustainable monastery

Brochure showing the layout of a circular, sustainable monastery with a focus towards office work

Illustration of how to build sandbag walls. You stack sandbags.

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Dear Generation X, Please Build A Better World

“Generation X” refers to people born in America between 1965-1981. That time frame obviously encompasses more than one generation. For the purpose of this letter, I’m mainly referring to the youngest members of Generation X (born 1976-1981). 

I’m a member of Generation X, and I don’t have many good things to say about the Baby Boomer generation. Suffice it to say that I blame them for most of the world’s problems, but I don’t want to dwell on things I can’t change. What I can change is myself, and I feel like my generation can listen to reason. So I want to point out to my generation that anytime we find ourselves resenting our parents’ generation for abandoning us and throwing us under the bus, we should be vividly aware of what kind of big brothers and big sisters we’ve been to Generation Y and what kind of parents we’re being to Generation Z.

As it stands, I’d say that despite all the blood, sweat and tears we’ve poured into making old people rich and fighting their wars we’re actually failing pretty miserably as a generation.  We haven’t protected Gen Y’s freedoms. We sat by while privacy became a thing of the past. We didn’t do a diligent job of raising them. We sat by and let the television warp their minds into cartoons. Generation X hasn’t done much for generation Y other than to make better apps to amuse them into not caring how unfulfilling the rest of their existence is. I’d go as far as to say that Generation X is well on its way to becoming Baby Boomers 2.0.

When Gen Z takes over the world I don’t want them to resentfully dismiss Gen X as senile old roadblocks to a rational society. When my generation passes the baton I want to get a sincere handshake and a meaningful nod. More importantly, I  want to die knowing the world is headed in a better direction because of the role my generation played in history.

But we have to earn that by doing something other than fighting old people’s wars and making old people richer. The biggest way Gen X can fail is by carrying on the Baby Boomer’s legacy of screwing their customers and workers to get obscenely rich.  We can do better than that. We are better than that, and I will be very disappointed if Gen X becomes Baby Boomers 2.0.

What can Gen X do for Gen Y and Z that the Baby Boomers didn’t do for us? Well, if you don’t know what Gen y and Z want or need you could try asking them. Their answers shouldn’t surprise you. They’re bitching about the same things you’ve been bitching about your entire life: that life sucks because we have to follow archaic ideals that nobody actually believes in and that business is war, and war is hell. The corporate culture our elders based the world economy on makes life hell for workers. Even after you leave work there is a war going on between every business in existence to get as much of your money as possible, and this problem is ubiquitous  Every time you take out your wallet to put money in or take money out someone skims off the top. You get charged for not having enough money. You get charged for having too much money. You get fined for not telling the government how much money you have. You get bills in the mail telling you that you owe money for things you don’t even understand. In this dog-eat-dog, cutthroat world the cards are so stacked against the young and poor that they’re basically just set up for failure. Life is hard because our elders gave us a system that makes life as hard as possible so the rich can get as rich as possible.

There’s no big mystery about what young people want. They want what all young people have always wanted: to not get screwed and not have to live according to irrational, archaic, obsolete ideals. If we’re currently screwing the young, then we shouldn’t be asking what we can do to help young people. The answer is to stop screwing them. Stop overcharging them for all the basic necessities of life and stop paying them barely enough to survive for working as hard as they can for the majority of their waking hours. The rest of the time, just let them be themselves.

This really isn’t profound. People have been talking about this since before “We’re Not Gonna Take It” first aired on MTV. The story of our generation has always been leading to the point where we either build a better world or sell out to the old one. If the old guard won’t let their young change the old system then all that’s left to do is stop asking for permission to build a more humanitarian, rational, sustainable world and just build it.

How do you rebuild an entire world? I don’t know, but I know if you can build one city that works properly then you can copy that pattern. So until Gen X builds the city of the future my generation can’t say it’s done everything in its power to make the world a better place. Gen X owes the world a city.

If the Baby Boomers finish the job of driving the world to apocalypse we’re going to have to rebuild a better kind of city anyway to adapt to post-apocalyptic conditions. Some young people in this country are so scared of an apocalypse they’re willing to fight to prevent that, but violence only begets violence until the only thing left to do is rebuild. If we’ve got time and resources to fight then we’ve got time and resources to skip the fighting and just get straight onto the rebuilding. You might think the idea of building a city is downright stupid, but if you hear people whispering about doing stupider things to “solve” the world’s problems you might want to try to sell them on the idea of building anyway even if you don’t personally believe in it.

This raises the question, how do you set a project of that scale in motion? The answer to that question isn’t profound either. If you need inspiration just go back and watch some of the old 80’s coming of age movies you were raised on. What did our television heroes do when they had to have a showdown with the preps from the fraternity across the lake? They threw a party. Then everybody pitched in to complete a monumental task.

Generation X needs to have its Woodstock, except instead of getting muddy, doing drugs and dancing to pop bands from major record labels, we need to get all the right nerds together to figure out how to build a city right there on that field that doesn’t treat people like shit. If we can make one good city then we can rebuild broken ones later. If we can’t make at least one then we don’t really have a leg to stand on when we complain about the ones we’ve got.

One city isn’t too much to ask from a generation that wants to live in a city that reflects its own values anyway. Most of us hate our jobs. We’d all love to escape to a place where you don’t have to constantly agonize over bills and feel insecure about the future. So I don’t know why we haven’t built X City already.

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

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