Suburbia Rules

January 20, 2006

More on this urban v rural debate – last thing I have seen being  a comment from Jason Godesky on Heretic Fig seeming to challenge the idea that being able to grow food in the city is not that great a trick because we need to grow ALL our food in the city. I think I can agree with both sides of that particular argument. Long term our aims do indeed need to be total self sufficiency and a complete absence of civilised technology, hierarchy and behaviour. It’s where I want to go but I don’t expect to get their in my life time. Where I agree with the other side of the argument is that the first step is to find a new way of living that will work post peak oil and I’m interested in how the masses will survive because a well fed population means security for me and because I’m not going to be happy watching most of the population dropping like flies.

There are references to how Cuba in it’s recent peak oil experience is growing 30% of it’s food in the city. First of all I want to know how built up their cities are, because from what I have seen it is more built up than suburbia and second of all; isn’t that great? 30% sounds like an ideal first step – enough to enable people to survive until the next stage can be worked out.

Back to suburbia though, I ranted in my previous post about how it could be adapted to a post-peak lifestyle and again this is a only a step along the path to our uncivilised utopia. Even if it proves to be too densely populated to feed all the people I don’t imagine that all the people will actually stay there – many will clear off to the countryside and other’s will perhaps die, but at some point post peak suburbia must reach equilibrium and become sustainable – for a time, maybe a very long time.

The reason I am talking about these steps is that I’m not entirely comfortable with that idea that large sections of the population will just die-off. I know that if they do the planet will be better off. (As an aside I also imagine that certain sections of the global elite will be happy for this to happen so that they might be able to maintain civilisation a while longer with a much smaller population base). Logic says that the planet would be better off if the human race was dramatically reduced and I am well aware of this but only a psychopath could ever act on that knowledge – hence the reference to the global elites

I am a human and no matter what logic I bring to the situation there is an overriding instinct (called caring I guess) that demands that I lookout for other humans and because of that I want to put myself in a position where I can do that rather than have to repress the urge like civilisation makes me do already. I don’t want to be the sort of person who ends up in a bunker with a small armament defending my lifetimes supply of tinned spam and clinging grimly to my love of  civilisation but nor do I want to be someone who would see humanity sacrificed for the sake of the planet. Personally I think that’s civilised thinking applied to environmentalism.

I know a lot of people, especially primitivists will take issue with this because I’ve heard people say as much (I also know I’m a little off topic…)  but  I think to be fully human demands that we attempt to find a solution whereby we save the planet and all of the people. Even if it’s not possible.
And don’t we want to be fully human? Isn’t that what getting away from civilisation is all about? Peak Oil is our first chance at heading in that direction en masse but so far everyone but the permaculturists seem to be enjoying the prospect of death a little too much for my liking.


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