I recently read one of those blog posts you come across these days–the kind that is so ridiculous, so insane, you assume–usually correctly–that it’s another urban legend. But this one bothered me, so I investigated, and found confirmation in the very reputable Guardian.
Like many countries, Nigeria has already begun to see the effects of climate change. So the wealthy are building a new, privatized city that will be insulated from the effects of the rising waters.
It’s a sight to behold. Just off Lagos, Nigeria’s coast, an artificial island is emerging from the sea. A foundation, built of sand dredged from the ocean floor, stretches over ten kilometres. Promotional videos depict what is to come: a city of soaring buildings, housing for 250,000 people, and a central boulevard to match Paris’ Champs-Élysées and New York’s Fifth Avenue. Privately constructed, it will also be privately administered and supplied with electricity, water, mass transit, sewage and security. It is the “future Hong Kong of Africa,” anticipates Nigeria’s World Bank director.
Welcome to Eko Atlantic, a city whose “whole purpose”, its developers say, is to “arrest the ocean’s encroachment.”
And who will occupy this new, privatized fortress against the elements? Certainly not the millions of poor Nigerians who will be left to fend for themselves–quite literally abandoned to the elements.
Those behind the project – a pair of politically connected Lebanese brothers who run a financial empire called the Chagoury Group, and a slew of African and international banks – give a picture of who will be catered to. Gilbert Chaougry was a close advisor to the notorious Nigerian dictatorship of the mid 1990s, helping the ultra-corrupt general Sani Abacha as he looted billions from public coffers. Abacha killed hundreds of demonstrators and executed environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa, who rose to fame protesting the despoiling of the country by Shell and other multinational oil corporations. Thus it’s fitting for whom the first 15-story office tower in Eko Atlantic is being built: a British oil and gas trading company. The city proposing to head off environmental devastation will be populated by those most responsible for it in the first place.
Evidently, once it is no longer possible to deny the reality of climate change, the self-identified “makers” of the world–in the US that would be folks like the members of ALEC, the managers and owners of energy companies, and of course the infamous Kochs and their ilk–will simply secede from the earth they’ve polluted.
Welcome to our dystopian future.