10 June 2008

BIG SOCIETAL CHANGES LOOMING

Well, well, a finite resource upon which our civilization has been based (petroleum) has finally caught up with our profligate system of transportation (and diet) and because of this the way we have designed cities. This was all foreseen several decades ago. As I have been telling my students for years, when they asked about oil running out, that oil will not run out--but our money to pay for it will. We can purchase all the gasoline we desire at $4 and on up to $8 or even $15 per gallon, when peak oil hits.

The structure of our cities will have to change. Kiss goodbye the suburbs, built on cheap--subsidized!--transportation in the form of an orgy of public highway construction. Already suburban housing prices are falling. We will simply have to live closer to where we work. Everything must take place closer to where we live.

Think of food production. Cities will again be ringed by farm production like they were before WWI. Is it rational that most of my food is imported from California across the continent or Chile thousands of miles away? Instead of California almonds, I can consume locally produced pecans. Now perhaps von Thunen's model (1826) of the spatial structure of agriculture production around cities will again become a model that edges closer to reality. Local food production and home gardens will flourish, even tomatoes grown in pots.

Fortunately, expertise and experience exists in every city. America is not devoid of thinking people (even if most people do not analyze their own lifeways). There are people who have been living and modeling the lifestyle of the future which is now arriving. One of these lifeways is vegetarian eating habits. We have been saying this for many years that a meat-based diet is unsustainable. Whether or not you consider the ethical and environmental ramifications of your dietary choices, your pocketbook will soon dictate your diet.

A side issue, but one that will prove to be crucial in coming decades, is that, due to global climate changes, agricultural zones will likely shift northward. Possibly we here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast can begin to produce mangoes and bananas and other tropical fruits. What can your bioregion grow?

Speaking of bioregions, the bioregionalists have also been saying for decades that society should conform to the exigencies of the natural region in which each is located.

One of my messages here is that among us are the ideas and expertise and even models of actual people who have been living according to how the world would soon become. That time is soon, even now.

1 comment:

April said...

i do like your ponderings of the (near?) future... could get strange fast. gas is $1.37/litre here right now, which is already ridiculous (not sure what it works out to in US terms... around $5/gallon?). why the hell did i get a car?

(well, to make the trip home to SK to see the folks... even that may have to become less frequent... :( oh well... there's always the phone...)

and you're right about the food... but i haven't been able to give up my meat yet... sigh... such an omnivore...