[permaculture] Peak-oil scenario fuels "go local", campaign

Robert Waldrop bwaldrop at cox.net
Sun Oct 9 19:03:29 EDT 2005

Well, I'm not giving up on cities, at least, my
city in particular, and I am one of the
co-moderators of runningonempty2 at yahoogroups.com ,
which presently has 5500+ members and has been
discussing peak oil since 2001, and I have read
every single message in that group.

There is certainly a group of peak oil folks who
favor a retreat to a remote rural homestead.  They
generally also believe there will be a fast, ugly,
and violent crash/die-off of the human species,
from the present 6+ billion to a few million in
the space of a few years.  See
http://www.dieoff.com for more information about

I tend to think the situation is going to play out
as a long, slow grind and general impoverishment
(in terms of energy and financial resources).  I
think my particular city is well positioned to
meet those challenges (I live in Oklahoma City).
We have a million people in the metropolitan area,
but it is low density by the standards of say
Boston or New York City.  We have 1/6th of an
acre, plus the city's easement, and you can do a
lot with that.

Regarding the suburbs, I wonder if they will
perhaps be reborn as market gardens for the
central cities. It is possible, for example, that
today's upscale suburbs could become the low-rent
areas of the peak oil future.  After all, many of
the poor areas of modern cities were once very
upscale neighborhoods.  In the early years of the
decline of fossil fuels, I expect that a lot of
people with resources are going to move back into
cities, and probably displace poor people.  Zoning
changes and the demise of neighborhood
associations will lead to these big houses being
chopped up into apartments.  Since many of these
houses sit on large lots, and there tends to be a
lot of green space, it is not a big jump to see
those lawns turned into intensive food producing
gardens, both to produce food for the inhabitants
and a surplus to sell in the city.

It's true, people in these retrofitted suburbs
won't be raising golden acres of grain, but I
personally expect that farming of basic staple
crops -- like beans and grains and corn for human
consumption -- to continue well into the future,
and that there will be enough fuel to move them
around.  I sent a series of messages to
runningonempty2 at yahoogroups.com which considered
the energy required to produce and deliver a basic
daily ration of beans and grains (2 pounds if I
remember correctly) to everybody in the country,
and assuming that (a) all imports were cut off,
and only domestic petroleum supplies were
available, and (b) that US oil production
continued to decline at its historical rate), it
would be 40 or 50 years out before there would not
be enough domestic oil production to provide that
amount of food to everyone in the country.

I also expect that livestock production for meat
will continue, although the feedlot/confined
animal feeding operation system will die.

Here in Oklahoma City, if I can get beans and
grain and some meat from farm country, I am pretty
confident that with what we can raise on our
former lawns we would have enough to eat.  As
things change enough, Oklahoma City will probably
change its city ordinances and I could have
chickens which would be a real plus.

I think over time the big megalopolises will
decline in population, and I think that more
people will move to rural areas, mostly to small
towns and that there will be some movement from
the colder parts of the country to the Sunbelt,
but I expect cities to endure for quite some time
and for there to be enough food to feed the people

Robert Waldrop

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Gryphon Danu" <gryphon at tripleaspect.com>
> I'm not so confident about that Toby. Humankind
has gotten along quite
> well over the ages from living off the land.
Afterall , it was energy
> from coal and oil that made life in the big
cities possible. Once that's
> gone, I don't see much hope there -- too many
people will be competing
> for too few resources; city dwellers are equally
dependent on
> transported goods, especially food.
> Yeah, living completely rural outside of a
community as you once did is
> probably a bad choice -- but leaving cities for
small, progressive towns
> that are in close proximity to agriculture and
other natural resources
> like timber, good soil, and clean water is
really the way to go. I
> personally like the ideas they're formulating
over at
> http://communitysolution.org
> Good luck.
> Gryphon

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