The only way is down: subterranean survival warning

Part of the Bourbon Tunnel under Naples
Part of the Bourbon Tunnel under Naples

Solutions to the biggest threats facing our planet lie underground, according to experts who insist climate change, overpopulation and food shortages can all be tackled by going subterranean.

"We are coming to a point in our history in which we need to start looking for more ," Han Admiraal, a civil engineer with over two decades of experience in underground space, told AFP on the sidelines of this year's World Tunnel Congress.

Efforts to meet seven of the United Nations' 17 —from cleaning up pollution-clogged metropolises to ending —could be given a big boost by repurposing spaces below street level, he said.

"We don't seem to realise that we're losing a lot of arable land at an alarming rate each year (to soil degradation, urbanisation and intensive farming), where we should be increasing it to feed the growing .

"Underground spaces could easily be used for growing crops," he said, as he toured the cavernous Bourbon Tunnel, dug deep under the Italian of Naples as a potential escape route for King Ferdinand II of Bourbon after the 1848 riots.

Scientific developments in areas like aquaponics—where vegetables and fish are farmed together—could help relieve the pressure on the food supply chain, and dramatically cut transport costs if such new farms were situated under cities.

Dutch civil engineer Han Admiraal in the cavernous Bourbon Tunnel dug deep under Naples
Dutch civil engineer Han Admiraal in the cavernous Bourbon Tunnel dug deep under Naples

'New lease of life'

Micro greens—tiny seedlings of plants such as fennel, radish or coriander usually harvested when they are full size—are already being grown underground, as is lettuce, Admiraal said.

"We could look at adding products like soy or lupin, which can be used as the basis for creating more protein-rich products that can be used as a substitute for meat," reducing our reliance on one of the biggest climate destroyers: the meat industry.

"You can also think about underground car parks: we know that cars are killing cities. We're moving towards electrical vehicles, autonomous vehicles. So the question is, will those spaces still be needed in the future in the way they are now?

"You could give them a new lease of life that actually supports the livability of the city," he said.

From Boston to Oslo, Rio de Janeiro, Seattle and Sydney, structures such as multi-lane highways are being moved underground, with the disused spaces converted into parks, according to urban planner Antonia Conaro.

Micro greens—tiny seedlings of plants such as fennel, radish or coriander usually harvested when they are full size—are already
Micro greens—tiny seedlings of plants such as fennel, radish or coriander usually harvested when they are full size—are already being grown underground

"Cities where the population growth is very strong, and which are struggling with resources, with the impact on their ... are looking at innovative ways to expand," she said.

"They're looking at floating cities but are realising that's not the solution, because it affects marine life and is difficult to build, so why not go downwards," added Cornaro, who is on the ITACUS international underground space committee with Admiraal.

Shelter from natural disasters

Metropolises like Singapore and Hong Kong have already begun changing legislation to allow for everything from universities to libraries, shopping centres, cinemas and sports facilities to move underground.

Trees planted in new green areas will do their bit to help rein in , as well as help prevent soil degradation.

Going underground can also help protect populations from the severe weather events climate change is expected to spark.

An aquaponics farm in southwest France, combining farming of aquatic animals with hydroponically cultivated plants
An aquaponics farm in southwest France, combining farming of aquatic animals with hydroponically cultivated plants

"For flooding, and also for other , it can really help make the city more resilient to exploit the underground for shelter," Cornaro said.

"Fibre optics can bring sunlight below the surface, and also you can simulate daylight nowadays," she adds.

A lack of sunlight has certainly not stopped ferns from growing among the dust-covered wrecks of cars abandoned in the Bourbon Tunnel decades ago, when it was used as a police pound.

How well plants can grow without the sun's rays is the focus of current studies looking into the optimal frequency of artificial light for photosynthesis, Admiraal said.


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© 2019 AFP

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May 10, 2019
I would like to know where the energy is going to come from to provide the artificial sunlight? Not solar, because it is 2D and needs to be used "up ground". Not wind, because it, too, is too diffuse to support everything up and down. Not conventional nuclear, because it WILL meltdown in the eventual CME or EMP events. Not fossil fuels, because the consequences of converting hundreds of CUBIC km of them into excess CO2 is what everyone will be "going under" for... (crop failure due to excess heat).
Which leaves one, already technically possible energy source - MOLTEN SALT FAST REACTORS. Safe, meltdown proof and no long lived rad wastes. The only problem is that all the above energy companies and the politicians (paid off) by them will not allow for it. They like to spread false info (fear) about the good kind of nuclear (MSFR) and insist that today's nuclear is "kinda Ok".

May 10, 2019
The bullshit "science" from the AGW Cult, is descending beyond the stupendous.

May 10, 2019
Again otto knows more than the world of people.
https://phys.org/...ies.html

-The dangers of global annihilation have been understood and the tech has been available for gens. Chances are that there are already cities beneath our feet, interconnected worldwide with nuclear-bored tunnels and nuclear sub traffic. Prototypes of off-world colonies.
I would like to know where the energy is going to come from
You may want to waste time considering geothermal. Perfectly capable nukes have been available for decades. Plenty of water for cooling underground.

And of course the tech will only improve. Perhaps 10% of the 10k tons of fissiles we have already created over the years is unaccounted for.

The problem with underground cities is that if the general pop knew about them they would object to having to pay for them. Best to keep them secret, totally isolated, dark-funded, full of volunteers and their families in sufficient breeding pops.

May 10, 2019
Infinite free energy from wave power, not sure why we still debate energy policies.

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