Conceptual artist and "experimental philosopher" Jonathon Keats is one of our favorite people here at Discovery News World Headquarters. His past projects include the 1,000-year exposure Millennium Camera and an employment service for bacteria. So whenever a new dispatch from Keats comes in, we know we're in for another interesting collision of science and art.
Keats' latest project involves a radically ambitious new plan to promote ecological conservation and manage climate change. The idea is to merge all the planet's land masses, by way of colossal geoengineering projects, into one giant supercontinent.
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Specifically, Keats has established the San Francisco-based Political Tectonics Lab, which specializes in the emerging field of diplomatic geoengineering. The goal is to shift and merge entire continents to offset historical and political rivalries. Using cutting-edge geoengineering techniques to gradually move tectonic plates, Keats' team hopes to bring nations together - quite literally - to combat climate change.
By closing the Pacific Ocean, for instance, the United States could be brought into geopolitical alignment with China and Russia. The nations would literally have common ground for working together on climate change. The new geoengineered supercontinent would be called Pangaea Optima, in reference to the planet's last supercontinent.
The project, as you may have intuited, is not entirely serious. But the way Keats sees it, the issues just underneath are as serious as the end of the world.
"The world climate is in crisis, a disaster that must be addressed at a global scale," Keats says. "We clearly don't have the political cohesiveness as a planet to counteract environmental ruin. We need a new approach. We need to enlist the grand scale of geoengineering in global politics by re-engineering political boundaries to literally bring the world together."
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The details of Keats' proposals will be officially unveiled in an exhibit at San Francisco's Modernism Gallery starting Thursday, October 22nd. Various surface and tectonic maps will be on display, as well as some technological prototypes such as the "plug-in nuclear power plant" and "multichannel magnetron." There will also be kits that visitors can use to design their own Pangaea Optima, for submission to the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris this December.
"We must take command of plate tectonics, geoengineering the next supercontinent, and we need to make it the best supercontinent possible," Keats says. "The last supercontinent broke up approximately 250 million years ago, and geologists predict the natural formation of another in approximately 250 million years. What we need, and much sooner, is Pangaea Optima. The job of the Political Tectonics Lab is to facilitate the creation of just such a supercontinent."