Model seastead
Illustration of a seastead, modeled after a local flower to honor the Polynesian culture. Photo courtesy of Joe Quirk/Seasteading Institute.

While some people are planning for life on Mars, there’s a new movement of so-called “seasteaders” planning to colonize a frontier a lot closer to home.

Quirk: “Seasteading is building politically independent cities that float on the ocean.”

That’s Joe Quirk with the California-based Seasteading Institute.

He believes that man-made islands will someday be home to independent communities where people can experiment with new forms of government and launch innovative businesses. He says these islands may also have value for places threatened by sea-level rise.

Quirk: “The immediate imperative is to provide a solution for these Pacific Island nations that are sinking below sea level.”

As its first project, the Seasteading Institute plans to build a cluster of island platforms in a French Polynesian lagoon. Quirk says the technology to build the islands exists, and if all goes well, construction will start next year.

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There’s still widespread skepticism about the feasibility of seasteading, let alone its ability to provide an affordable solution for people displaced by rising sea levels.

But as we face a world changed by global warming, projects like this remind us that there are ground-breaking ideas waiting to be explored.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Daisy Simmons

Daisy Simmons is a freelance writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience in research-driven storytelling. In addition to contributing to Yale Climate Connections since early 2016, she also...