Unknown is an examination of two responses, one of "resistance" (shown
here), the other of "adaptation," to potential
sea level rise caused by global warming. The San Francisco
of Central California is used as a case study of this issue.
A precedent to the resistance approach can be found in
the dikes of the Netherlands, that of adaptation in the
of preservation of ancient Egyptian temples, such as Abu
Simbel, moved in response to the flooding of the Nile river
by the construction of the High Aswan dam and creation
of Lake Nasser, in the 1960's.
The resistance response in Prometheus Unknown, as in the Netherlands
dike system, takes as it main strategy, the construction of sea walls
to resist the incursion of the sea to a possible height of over 50 meters
above current sea level across the Golden Gate entrance to the San Francisco
Bay and other areas of the coast vulnerable to inundation of that degree.
The height is controversial, as there are numerous models of potential
sea rise to a maximum of 80 meters if all present day ice sheets of Antarctica,
Greenland and other glacial areas were to melt. Many additional issues
are involved with a damming of the Golden Gate, including the vast amount
of water exiting the bay from California rivers, ecological change resulting
from the change from a sea/brackish water to a freshwater environment,
fish spawning, the assumed continuation of the bay as a commercial port
and the extraordinary sum of money and materials required to build and
maintain such a system.
The "adaptation" response
looks at a range of current and historical models world wide
of living with the sea and sea level change, such as: marinas,
floating structures and cites and aquaculture of all kinds.
The high cultural value placed on ancient Egyptian temples
and temple complexes that determined their worthiness to
be rescued from inundation by the filling of Lake Nasser, gives
an indication of both the potential and problematic issues
surrounding this approach. Like the resistance approach,
is also complex in the changes that could occur to current
ecologies, landscapes and infrastructure are potentially
extreme and without precedent in human time.
Prometheus Unknown, inspired in part by the Greek myth of Prometheus,
Aeschylus' play, Prometheus Bound and Percy Byssche Shelly's poem, Prometheus
Unbound, which refers to the gift of fire to humanity by Prometheus and
his subsequent punishment by the gods. Prometheus Unknown's ultimate
goal is to look beyond given resistance and adaptation scenarios, which
it is now studying as a preliminary exercise, towards an unknown assemblage,
system or condition somehow at a similar scale of thought, spirit or
depth as the problem itself.