Cities, streets, public space and survival. Alan Powers Cultural Context ENVT1036 2005. James Howard Kunstler, The Long Emergency , Atlantic Books, London 2005.
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Cities, streets, public space and survival
Cultural Context ENVT1036
Kunstler quotes a professor of geology from Princeton University, Ken Deffeyes, who predicted recently that the peak of oil production would occur on Thanksgiving 2005, with “an uncertainty factor of only three or four weeks on either side.”
American Vice-President Dick Cheney said in 1999, ‘By some estimates, there will be an average annual growth in global oil demand over the years ahead, along with, conservatively, a three percent natural decline in production from existing reserves.
‘That means by 2010 we will need on the order of an additional 50 million barrels a day.’
Photograph by Sarah Leen Blissfully free from bumper-to-bumper tie-ups, Tori Carman and Olivia Jeffery cruise down their cul-de-sac in Alpharetta, Georgia, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Atlanta. Developments like this one, with their acres of single-family homes that are miles from the nearest retail strip, drive opponents of sprawl crazy. But Kim Jeffery, Olivia’s mom, says seclusion was the whole point. “We wanted to live on a cul-de-sac,” she says, “so the kids could ride their bikes and scooters and play out front.”
The areas required to supply a city with food and forest products and to absorb their output of wastes, and particularly their output of carbon dioxide
‘Everyone is now in everyone else’s backyard’
Kunstler predicts a return to ‘the small town or city and its supporting agricultural hinterland. Those towns and cities will have to be a lot denser. Most of the towns and small cities of America are in a coma today. The luckier ones, which are generally tourist towns, have had a residue of boutique commerce barely holding the downtown buildings together. Typically, though, downtown buildings in small towns are unoccupied above the ground floors because the landlords will not invest in expensive renovation under strict building codes while new, suburban style garden apartments pop up on the fringe. The unluckier small towns of our nation – and they are the majority – lie in various stages of dereliction and ruin, their industry gone, their populations aged or idle, the infrastructure rotting. Even solid brick buildings fall apart in a few years when they are not inhabited. Once the roof leaks, all bets are off.’