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Archive for the ‘Carrying-capacity’ Category

In order to solve the current economic crisis we need to put many unemployed and/or underemployed people back to work rebuilding small/medium-sized towns, farms, villages, and hamlets.  There are hundreds if not thousands of small to medium-sized towns across the USA with declining populations that could be revitalized with an influx of people in to them (from America’s overgrown cities) which would revive local/regional markets.  People keep cramming in to cities/suburbs (major metro areas) where the employment market is vastly over-saturated and this only serves to exacerbate employment problems.

Small and medium-sized farms which surround towns and villages should be re-started to provide employment opportunities and secure America’s food supplies for the future.  We should also work to revive local/regional factories and artisan shops in towns and cities, rebuilding America’s domestic manufacturing base.  There are far too many paper shufflers in the American economy and as such we must begin to revive key hands-on industries – agriculture, manufacturing, focus on long-term ecological sustainability, etc – which actually produce things locally and regionally.  The USA manufactures more than it ever has yet industry/manufacturing has become so overmechanized that one machine now does the work that dozens (even hundreds) of people used to do by hand; as such, we may also need to begin to de-mechanize certain manufacturing sectors in order to provide more jobs, i.e. begin to make and produce more things by hand as in the past (artisans of yore like the local butcher, baker, and candlestick maker) instead of relying too much on machinery in far away places.

This economic crisis and only be solved by de-centralization, re-localization, and re-regionalization of people, industry, artisanry, manufacturing, and especially agriculture.  In a mature American market facing the typical and predictable capitalistic crisis of overproduction, oversupply, and overmechanization (along with almost total agricultural and industrial monopolies), so called ‘green collar jobs’ are the only way to fix the current mess now and in the coming decades/centuries.

Cousin Charles’s feeling about the depression is that it serves the “industrialists” right. He pointed out in a magazine article seven years ago that the present trouble with the country was that the cities were getting overgrown – Megalopolis, as Spengler calls it. Strange that it should have been left for a German to diagnose our American disease. But the effect of the depression should be salutary, because it ought to make the government get rid of the high tariff and send people back to the land. There’s always a living on a farm – and he himself has been a dirt farmer, not a white-collar farmer. – http://xroads.virginia.edu/~MA01/White/anthology/tennessee.html

Even the apologists of industrialism have been obliged to admit that some economic evils follow in the wake of the machines. These are such as overproduction, unemployment, and a growing inequality in the distribution of wealth. But the remedies proposed by the apologists are always homeopathic. They expect the evils to disappear when we have bigger and better machines, and more of them. Their remedial programs, therefore, look forward to more industrialism. … Opposed to the industrial society is the agrarian, which does not stand in particular need of definition. An agrarian society is hardly one that has no use at all for industries, for professional vocations, for scholars and artists, and for the life of cities. Technically, perhaps, an agrarian society is one in which agriculture is the leading vocation, whether for wealth, for pleasure, or for prestige-a form of labor that is pursued with intelligence and leisure, and that becomes the model to which the other forms approach as well as they may. But an agrarian regime will be secured readily enough where the superfluous industries are not allowed to rise against it. The theory of agrarianism is that the culture of the soil is the best and most sensitive of vocations, and that therefore it should have the economic preference and enlist the maximum number of workers. – http://xroads.virginia.edu/~MA01/White/anthology/agrarian.html

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It is increasingly obvious that American suburbs – as well as the suburbs of other nations – are environmentally and socially unsustainable on many levels.  As such, an immediate mass-retrofitting and greening of American suburbs must begin in the coming years due to the increasingly unsustainable American transportation system, food production system, and so on; this retrofitting must begin to transform suburbs again in to centers of production instead of solely centers of consumption.

Each suburban neighborhood must begin to think of itself as a village of sorts, as a semi-self-contained town within a town.  Suburban neighborhoods should immediately begin to incorporate a certain amount of walkable retail space as opposed to solely residential space — a few houses from each neighborhood could be removed to build a few shops or a neighborhood mall of sorts which carry the basics and essential goods and services needed for each neighborhood, i.e. food, tools, childcare, local shops and places of employment, etc.  Each house ought to plant to a garden – or the neighborhood as a whole should have a well-kept community garden or gardens – to supply a steady amount of fresh local produce.  Land surrounding the neighborhood, if available, could be used to raise a certain amount of livestock, thus supplying fresh local meat.  Additionally, as solar panels and wind turbines come down in price due to increased production in the coming years each house ought to also become as self-sufficient as possible in terms of energy production, producing a certain amount of energy on-site via solar panels, windmills, water wheels, and so forth.  The cars found in suburban driveways in coming years ought be filled with electric cars, electric-gas hybrids, 2-seater smart-cars, and other fuel efficient automobiles.  All of this would serve to create jobs and also stimulate lagging local and regional economies.

It is especially essential that suburban retrofitting occurs in the USA in the coming years due to the possibility of shortages of gasoline and fuel as well as the unsustainability of shipping essential foodstuffs thousands of miles for consumption.  Again, it is imperative that each suburban (and urban) neighborhood begin to think of itself as a village of sorts, with consumption at least equaling production as much as possible therein.  This would not only help to revive local and regional economies by producing many millions of local green-collar jobs which are unable to be outsourced but would also increase community cohesion.

The concept known as agriburbia (written about here numerous times before) is beginning to take steps in this direction, though it is not nearly enough in a rapid enough time frame.  The founders of the agriburban movement ought to also focus on retrofitting and greening existing neighborhoods instead of solely building new developments.  Overall it is clear that suburban retrofitting and greening must begin as soon as possible to provide jobs and increase local/regional socio-environmental sustainability.

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As referenced in a recent post, the USA and other nations must begin to build ecovillages, ecotowns, and ecosuburbs for a substantial portion of its population due to the growing instability and over-reach of petroleum-based living systems.  This is especially important for the growing underclass in the USA and elsewhere, not just the middle classes.  This is due to the fact that large numbers of the underclass are in many senses unfit for working and living in any other manner — the modern techno-industrial world has grown too complicated for large numbers of the population (especially the underclass), and thus they must be encouraged to live in ways that are more fit for their skill-set and socio-cultural mindset, i.e. in ecovillages, ecotowns, and ecosuburbs (or ‘agriburbs‘).  Green-collar jobs are the only way forward for a substantial portion of the population and as such many nations must begin to create such jobs en masse as soon as possible.

This large underclass labor pool can be intelligently utilized to repopulate and rebuild various rural and suburban areas, improving and repairing the Earth in many ways by growing or raising local/regional food, improving degraded soils, cleaning up polluted waterways, installing alternative energy sources, replanting and managing forests, rebuilding a local business/artisan base, and overall beginning to work again in many ecologically-focused sectors that have been neglected or forgotten in the past few decades of hyperindustrialism.

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From Lester Brown, an important movie: Journey to Planet Earth — Plan B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization —  http://video.pbs.org/video/1864227276

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A great article: read “How Relocalization Worked

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A recent news-story from The Denver Post entitled “‘Agriburbia’ sprouts on Colorado’s Front Range: Combines Homes and Harvests.”

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A few recent links about the possible future course of humankind on Earth if we do not begin to change our unsustainable ways:

+ “Could Food Shortages Bring Down Civilization?” by Lester Brown (in Scientific American – May 2009) – this article posits that the increasing fragility of the world’s food supply could lead to shortages that would further destabilize many developing (as well as developed) countries
– Also see: “RETHINKING FOOD PRODUCTION FOR A WORLD OF EIGHT BILLION” by Brown (July 2009)

+ “What the future looks like” by Martin Rees (in The Guardian – May 2009) – a rather gloomy assessment of the socio-environmental situation that could lead to major problems by 2050.  In relation to the burgeoning world population and the impact that this is having on the environment, the article states:

“But there are some trends that we can predict with confidence. There will, barring a global catastrophe, be far more people on Earth than today. Fifty years ago the world population was below 3 billion. It has more than doubled since then, to 6.7 billion. The percentage growth rate has slowed, but it is projected to reach 9 billion by 2050. The excess will almost all be in the developing world where the young hugely outnumber the old.

If population growth were to continue beyond 2050, one can’t be other than exceedingly gloomy about the prospects. And the challenge of feeding such a rapidly growing population will be aggravated by climate change.

The world will be warmer than today in 2050; the patterns of rainfall and drought across the world will be different. If we pursue “business as usual”,

CO2 concentration levels will reach twice the pre-industrial level by around 2050. The higher its concentration, the greater the warming – and, more important still, the greater the chance of triggering something grave and irreversible: rising sea levels due to the melting of Greenland’s icecap; runaway release of methane in the tundra.”

+ ABC News ran the TV special “Earth 2100” back in early June 2009 – it also paints a grim portrait of Earth overwhelmed by major economic, political, and socio-environmental problems by the year 2100 if humanity does not soon change course and begin upon a more ecologically/environmentally sustainable path. I didn’t hear about or get to watch the program when it first aired, but I hope to watch a rerun of it on the internet sometime soon when I find the time.
– Also see the following related links:
“Earth 2100: the Final Century of Civilization? – Planet At Risk: Experts Warn Population Growth, Resource Depletion, Climate Change Could Bring Catastrophe in Next Century”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_2100

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