Monday, July 25, 2005

more on community preparation

Jan Lundberg of Culture Change has written another installment on her series on petrocollapse. I blogged about #5 earlier. She revisits "Plan B" (Preparations and policies for petrocollapse and climate distortion). In this article she says: mustn't think this is all up to government officials. Individuals and households, and then neighborhood communities, need to take matters into their hands now to prepare for major upheaval ahead and to build a sustainable society.

And goes on to outline her recommendations. The sixth article is particularly interesting because it includes her responses to her reader's comments on the first one.

The sentiments out there seem to fall into two main groups: (1) We despair and are doing something, at least, by talking about the issues of peak oil, climate change, etc. (2) We are preparing and resolute, and more philosophical than afraid.

She writes about those that aren't aware of the coming challenges and her meeting with Berkeley mayor Tom Bradly, but I could not tell from her rather obscure writing style what her point was for either of these items.

Nevertheless the rest of her letter is worth noting. The first issue she addresses is people's responses to the idea of depaving to gain more arable land by moving houses onto the roads. Clustering the houses will foster community. One problem is that the land under foundations may have been treated with pesticides, although remediation with mushrooms may be possible. One that felt this was impractical offered

"...a state-wide amendment removing the ban on growing food on any land in the state, except land which would provide a pollution risk, or is protected for preservation reasons. This would override any ban which could be made by townships, homeowner's associations, etc. Next, you could expand this into poultry keeping, under certain mandated conditions. Plus tax breaks for NOT growing a lawn, and instead growing a free-growing ground cover like Boston Ivy, Bamboo, or Hemp. No money down. All costs borne by the innovators. To each his own - it's the American Way."

The next topic is permaculture. A key idea is that "in nature, there is no waste, everything is food for something else." Composting and vermiculture (using worms) are mentioned. Conservation is important as well.

Overpopulation is a major concern. For two million years population growth was at the rate of three people a day. Now it is over 265,000 people per day.

Lundberg predicts hemp sowing will make a comeback and the war on marijuana will be abandoned. This brings up the issue of the existing laws and what other changes need to be made.

There is a long discussion about the place of rail in a post petroleum world. The internal combustion engine and limited disbursement patterns are problems that need to be addressed. Lighter freight cars and special settlement zones could do this. Kunstler, of The Long Emergency fame, adds

"the restoration of the US rail system is crucial for one other reason beyond the obvious benefits vis-a-vis energy use: it's the one project that the American people could accomplish that would give them some confidence in facing this very difficult future of a permanent global energy crisis."

However Lundberg does not think it is possible to invest in this now--she feels it is too late. Another respondent pointed out other problems, including politics, right of way, and funding.

In the next section she discussing feedback she has gotten over the course of the whole series (including the first, second, third, and fourth letters). One writer imagines riots when too many people try to get on the bus (he obviously hasn't ridden in San Francisco.) (Perhaps we would need to institute the pushers like the ones in Japanese subways.)

One reader posted her concerns of surviving without insulin. She is not alone.

We received many letters expressing fear, and others revealing strategies and kinds of possessions. Just how to live, and where, and how to have a piece of countryside instead of an urban trap -- and whether it is best to do go rural or wild -- will be dealt with in an upcoming Culture Change Letter.

I look forward to reading it.

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