The Blue Boulevard Vision
The pioneering spirit that shaped Israel’s thriving society and developed sophisticated technologies may once again launch a dream that could shake the imagination of many, rattle unbending ideologies and constructively transform the Middle East. Professor Michael Burt calls it “The Blue Boulevard” option. The idea is to build progressively a number of artificial islands along the country’s coastal plain that could absorb 3,000,000 people and infrastructure. Unlike artificial islands built elsewhere, Prof. Burt invented a new technology that uses only 7% of material to build the islands’ volume and is friendly to the marine ecosystem.[youtube=http://youtube.com/v/aDzgMfXdk9s]
This technology is in full contrast with the ones used to build artificial islands and land reclamation around the world, which are all based on the use of filling materials. Since Israel does not have enough filling materials to build artificial islands in a conventional way, the use of prefabricated “Sponge Breakwaters” is a practical solution. Eventually, it could be used in similar situations elsewhere, considering that over 50% of the world’s population lives along coastal areas.
Prof. Burt’s ideas confront the “laissez-faire” and the implicated dangers of environmental deterioration, agricultural extinction and skyrocketing real estate prices. The time is ripe for such an approach because:
- The cost of building the islands has been calculated is to be a fraction of the cost of land along the coastal plain;
- Polluting industries and dangerous materials’ storage in the vicinity of populated areas could be relocated to some of the islands, thus freeing valuable land for new development and open spaces;
- The islands could generate tens of thousands of jobs close to densely populated areas;
- Coastal cities will become a place to expand for future populations;
- A new international airport could replace the negative impact of the existing Ben Gurion Airport;
- Some of the new islands could be built across Gaza, thus creating an important tool of development for the Palestinians.
In spite of the gloom into which the world seems to be submerged these days, Prof. Burt’s artificial islands present a pragmatic vision for the future capable of easing many of Israel’s problems, trigger economic growth and stimulate a constructive alternative for the region.
Oh, the seductiveness of grand utopian vision!
What Prof. Burt is not telling us is that Israel’s cities are actually not that dense, Tel-Aviv has a density of about half that of central Paris, and many other cities are actually much less dense – so there is much room to grow into within existing city boundaries, as well as much land available in the Northern Negev, where better transportation connections, and the price of land in the center will make development more attractive. The island environments are financially feasible at very high densities – and if we could build the same densities on land we wouldn’t need the islands anyway.
The real, hard task for the next generation is rebuilding and re-configuring the developed areas of the past 60 years and not investing precious resources in “colonizing” the sea. Not as sexy as these pipedreams, but much more satisfying in the end.
A debate on the subject is welcome. Let’s do some math for Burt’s vision (“Utopia” implies “not possible,” which I don’t think is the case.) He talks about 3 million on islands out of a population of 18 million (without counting the population growth in the West Bank and Gaza.) That’s 16% of the total. There’s plenty of room for urban densification on the rest. But let’s say there are no islands, The likelihood is that most of the 3 million will be added to the coastal plain. How much more infrastructure will be needed? Will all the polluting industries, army bases, airports be moved to the Negev?
I forsee intense water pollution surrounding those islands. I also see them as excellent targets for today/s modern weaponry (i.e. drones,etc.) I also feel that t here is so much diviseiveness among the Orthodoxy to the Progressives, they could become religiously diverse instead of ethnically rich with people from all over the world asI believe ishappening here in the US. Howver, they could do wonders for the tourist Industry and become vacation retreats and fun zones and artistic masterpeices.
This is most interesting, astoundingly daring and important. Congratulations to Ricky for producing such an excellent video which informs us about ideas we have not even dreamed of.
Thank you. I really think its a brakethrough.
Astounding! Will there be enough drinking water and other natural resources such as energy sources (sun, wind, etc.Can this be the bginniing of true integration of the ethnic populations that might flock to such a beautiful area? Are there enought natural resources to sustain a large population of poor people from overpopulated countries who can find employment in business and industry and move toward a homogenous country, not unlike the U.S. The troubled middle East must find something to elevate instead of nuclear competitiveness. I would like ti learn more about this wonderful possibility.