Sunday, January 22, 2006

City vs. Country Post Peak

Energy Bulletin published Toby Hemenway's follow up to an often-cited article he wrote after giving up on country living and returning to the city last December, but it just came to my attention today. As I have been collecting points of view about this topic, I wanted to be sure to cite it.

The bottom line? "Given two present-day urban and rural populations of equal size, the urban one has a much smaller ecological footprint."

Hemenway does not believe in the apocalyptic versions of life post-peak, but the only reason he gives for this is the fact that all of the previous doomsdayers were wrong. (That's not enough for me.) So he is not so concerned with social unrest. Therefor he believes: "The places with the best chance of surviving an oil peak will be cities of less than a million people, ranging down to well-placed smaller cities and towns."

He argues that heading for the hills is not what it's cracked up to be.

One of the most common responses to the Peak Oil panic is, 'We're planning on moving to the country with our friends and producing everything we need.' Let me burst that bubble: Back-to-the-landers have been pursuing this dream for 40 years now, and I don't know of a single homesteader or community that has achieved it. Even the Amish shop in town. When I moved to the country, I became rapidly disabused of the idea of growing even half my own food. I like doing one or two other things during my day. During my life.
He talks about what it takes to make a community: living near each other in a relatively homogeneous neighborhood. And finally he addresses the question of depression and concludes that "[b]readlines mean a community is pooling its resources. That can't easily happen where people are dispersed and don't have cars to connect them."

Food for thought.

1 comment:

UNplanner said...

Despite my relocation to Oregon, I continue to stand by my comments made in the earlier referenced post on your blog.

I continue to hedge my bets on the nature of the post-peak civilization. My goal is to be just outside (within 1-2mi at most) of a small town (4-12K) located 30-60mins from a major city. The whole region would need to be suitable for agricultural cultivation.

Failing that, I'd settle for a largish lot in the afore mentioned town.