Photo: Daily Mail
The race is on again.
Russia has released plans to build an outpost city in the Arctic Circle to colonize the vast oil and gas reserves allegedly stored under the polar ice caps. Located on a remote frozen island 1,000 miles from the North Pole, the city will take the form of a domed mega-structure housing laboratories, farms, factories, schools, houses and various attractions, including sport facilities, hotels and an Aqua complex.
As the Daily Mail reports, architect Valery Rzhevskiy presented the over $6 billion proposal to an approving Vladimir Putin, promising a state-of-the-art hermetic cocoon with an artificially sustained climate to provide a “luxury lifestyle” to those committed to Moscow’s pursuit of Arctic mineral riches.
The impetus and zeal of the Umka project (named after a popular cartoon polar bear) seems to pick up where the Soviet Union left off in the late-20th century “Space Race.” Sending probes, satellites and heavily bundled Soviet men into the stratosphere, the USSR hinged its international supremacy on monopolizing the great unknown, claiming dominance over resources of indefinite value. Coupled with increasingly viral media coverage during the 1960s and 70s, the Soviet stronghold on “space” worked more to colonize the popular imagination than to settle the hostile environs beyond Earth’s atmosphere.
U.S. astronauts upgrading trusses on the International Space Station, photo via.
Today, Russia is approaching the inhospitable Arctic climate as if it were no different from the celestial vacuum of outer space: the Umka designs are directly based on the International Space Station, with its main difference being the vast jump in scale. Spanning just short of one mile long, the domed city will be “the only project in the world with an artificial climate and integral life support, just like on the space station.” According to Rzehevskiy, the project is “designed to work on any surface, even on the Moon if needed.”
What Rzehevskiy and Russia have dreamt up is a colonizing machine, a theoretically self-sufficient organism invested with aero and space technologies and designed to sap unclaimed territories of resources, whatever and wherever that territory may be. Though there is no timetable for the project as of yet, tensions are palpable, as the U.S., Canada, Norway and Russia are all increasing naval presence in Arctic waters in anticipation for what could be an even colder Cold War.