A Super-Green Future for an Island Capital

Islands are generally thought of as extremely vulnerable to future climate change tragedy. Here, using Thomas More's novel about the island Utopia as a starting point, the Ecotopia 2121 project forecasts a super-ecofriendly 'Green Utopian' future for the island capitals across the globe, from Singapore to Zakynthos to Havana and many more. Today, we highlight the eco-futuristic development of the capital city of the Maldives...

The capital of the Maldives in an eco-futuristic scenario

The city of Malé--the capital of the Maldives--has over 100,000 people occupying a one square mile island. It’s the smallest capital city in the world in terms of area and also one of the most densely populated. The coral island that Malé rests upon reaches a maximum height of eight feet above the sea. Although, if you count the garbage dump on the island, this height more than doubles.

The diminutive presence of Malé renders it extremely vulnerable to changes in environment, such as sea level rise and the increasing acidity of the ocean -- both of which erode and kill the coral which make up the island. To contend with this, Malé in the future adjusts to grow upwards and just a little bit outwards over the sea in order to both increase living space and to make the infrastructure high enough above any projected sea level rise. At times, this will involve imaginative construction techniques that may relinquish lower levels of buildings to the rising tides. The slow decay of these buildings will also add alkaline solution to the coastal sea, negating the coral-corroding effect of the sea’s increasing acidity

Another problem for present-day Malé is the shortage of freshwater, exacerbated by the increasing number of tourists arriving every year. Presently, when the water supply suddenly dries up, via disaster or mismanagement, planes and ships from India are quickly sent at vast expense to make-up the shortfall. In the future, though, India’s response may not be so accommodating, especially if the Maldives start voicing its concern about India’s lackluster performance against global warming.

Therefore, in future Malé , water conservation and water recycling becomes imperative, with strict water quotas per person, to the point where shower-minutes are rationed and baths and pools are banned. Throughout the city, and around its perimeter, there are also extensive ecology zones where wastewater can be processed through plant-based recycling systems. An engineered wastewater factory, or a desalination facility, is likely to take up space and to repulse tourists but one highlighting the wetlands of the Indian Ocean makes the capital more attractive.

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