When we ate the rich.

On January 1, 2016, the Southern Fried Science central server began uploading blog posts apparently circa 2041. Due to a related corruption of the contemporary database, we are, at this time, unable to remove these Field Notes from the Future or prevent the uploading of additional posts. Please enjoy this glimpse into the ocean future while we attempt to rectify the situation.


The first floating city, Aquapolis, set sail in 1975 at the Okinawa World Expo. Aquapolis was intended to be a symbol of the infinite possibilities of life at sea. It would herald a new era of seasteading and create permanent colonies, even nations, that existed exclusively at sea.

Aquapolis was sold for scrap in 2000, her vision unrealized.

From Sealand to the Seasteading Institute, from the Republic of Rockall to China’s Reclaimed Island Territories to the tech pirates harbored aboard The World, the dream of a micro-nation at sea renews itself with every new generation.

The Maldives were the first nation-state to float away.

It shouldn’t be surprising that catastrophic sea level rise was the catalyst that finally ignited the first self-sufficient floating colonies. This tiny island chain, none more than a meter above sea level, had two advantages: The Maldives had already invested in developing floating platforms to expand their territory and develop novel luxury hotels and the Maldives were rich. Continue reading

Ocean Conservation Priorities for 2041

On January 1, 2016, the Southern Fried Science central server began uploading blog posts apparently circa 2041. Due to a related corruption of the contemporary database, we are, at this time, unable to remove these Field Notes from the Future or prevent the uploading of additional posts. Please enjoy this glimpse into the ocean future while we attempt to rectify the situation.


Another year, another set of ocean conservation priorities. As with the last 5 years, there will be some new ones, and some repeats. The biggest issues shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, plastics have been an issue forever and global norming is rapidly taking over the broader ocean conversation. For a refresher, check out our priorities for 2036, 2037, 2038, 2039, and 2040.

Sea Level Rise Induced Habitat Loss: This has been a big one on the docket the last few years. As the ocean rises many species are experiencing dramatic loss of habitat, especially sensitive coastal nursery grounds. Although we’ve known about this for a while, we haven’t even begun to quantify the extent of damage to marine populations. Salt inundation is also compromising coast terrestrial habitats, driving essential species further inland. Continue reading

To dyke, or not to dyke: A debate coming to a town near you

Finally, President Obama’s state of the union called out Congress’s problem with climate change. Their denial is merely a symptom of overall scientific ignorance, a simply medieval issue that has temporarily stalled many great nations’ progress throughout history. Yet, President Obama’s points about climate change and it’s relevance to the nation gives one hope that there is a small smoldering ember of collaborative-driven leadership buried under piles of Benghazi reports, and it couldn’t come a moment too soon. The USA has stalled its scientific and technological growth at a key time in global history and is already generations behind the modern world in technological advancements to protect its people against a rising threat – the ocean.

Let me present you with a case study. I live in Zeeland in the Netherlands, and this area is protected by the world-famous Oosterschelde surge barrier; a 9km system of dams, movable concrete slabs, and artificial islands.  The Oosterschelde is one of many ocean barriers strategically placed along the Dutch coast and has been deemed one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.  During storm events, the Oosterschelde’s massive concrete slabs shut and cut off Zeeland’s waterways from the surge of the North Sea.

By Nils van der Burg from Madrid, Spain (IMG_7446) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Oosterschelde Delta Works – 9km long: By Nils van der Burg from Madrid, Spain (IMG_7446) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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#DrownYourTown Coastal States Road Trip is coming to your (virtual) town

Last week, I kicked off the #DrownYourTown Coastal States Road Trip with a cruise through California. Over the next few weeks, we’ll visit every coastal US state (and territory) and see what they look like after 5 meters of sea level rise. The first week of images is available at the #DrownYourTown tumblr and you can follow along in real time on twitter @DrownYourTown.

Panama City, FL after 5 meters of sea level rise.

Panama City, FL after 5 meters of sea level rise.

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A scientist writes science fiction – thoughts on self-publishing my first novel

Early this month, I completed and self-published my first science fiction novel through Amazon’s Kindle Direct publishing service (and, a few days later, as a paperback through Createspace). The ideas for the book were conceived over a long week in August, while vacationing with my parents at a rental house in St. Michaels, Maryland. Wandering through the low-lying eastern shore towns started me thinking about the kinds of stories we would tell hundreds of years from now. Thus, the central conceit of Fleet — that it was not a tale of environmental devastation but of people living their lives in a post-sea-level-rise world — surfaced.

Writing Fleet was a marathon. All told, from the first day that I started outlining characters and deciding what the central story of Fleet — uncovering a human disaster caused by desperation and betrayal, then buried at sea — to the day I hit publish on the Amazon server, Fleet took a little over 3 and a half months, during which time I was also moving across the country, finishing several scientific manuscripts, and looking for a job.

Having now had a few weeks to decompress, I think it’s a good time to reflect on the book, what I tried to accomplish, and where it goes from here.

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