Think Long Term...
From: Ronald Frederick Greek (
Date: Wed, 4 Jul 2007 10:46:38 -0700 (PDT)

In a long-term sustainable and stable human community, there would essentially 
be no new housing construction, other than replacement for such as exceed their 
useful lifespan. 

Eventually, regardless of conservation efforts, we will have to end all fossil 
fuel use (oil, coal, gas, shale oil, tar sands, etc?) 

While the first-thought for alternative energy sources might be that prices 
will come down with more demand, and economics of scale for production, there 
is a barrier to face:

An annual human energy use of 30 billion barrels of oil is a lot of energy? Run 
the numbers in BTU or kilowatt equivalents, and compare to whatever renewable 
you like, I suspect you will find that there is no practical long-term approach 
that is going to allow humanity to continue to use energy at the current level. 

Absent some energy miracle, without the "free" energy from fossil fuels, what 
works, and what doesn't?  

Doesn't everything essential need to be re-localized?  

Soon, many choices will be based not on what is desired, or even economically 
beneficial, but what is physically possible.  Can you meet your life-support 
needs locally, or preferably at home?  If not you are dependent on working for 
someone, and having someone else produce sufficient surplus to trade with you.

I expect that eventually (perhaps soon) will will once again see 
multi-generation homesteads, potentially stablizing at an average of 8 to 10 
people.  In the long term, so long as the owners do not encumber the property 
with debt, and the real property taxes remain modest, this will eventually 
cover both young and old generations for a place to live. 

But, contrary to argument in favor of high-rise and small units, if you expect 
the population to subsist locally, I would argue that each family unit needs to 
be around 1/4 acre, more in those areas where the growing season is less.  


While the direct per day water use per person (drinking, cooking, cleaning) can 
be modest (The Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and 
Security puts the minimum daily intake at 3 liters, with 20 liters for hygiene, 
15 per bathing, 10 for food preparation, or an overall average of 50 liters - 
around 13.195 gallon), this ignores the water "embedded" in food.   In my 
desert climate, my minimum gardening water needs per person is around 175 
gallons per day.  (Based on 1,000 ft. sq. garden)


This would include the "yuch" factor of re-cycling of human effluent to the 
crop medium, which in a low energy situation puts the crop area close to the 
living areas.  It requires a minimum area for calorie crops, and a maximum area 
that can be fertilized using the effluent.  My estimates are 1,000 and 1,600 
sq. ft. respectively.  (All year growing season.) For an eventual 
multi-generation homestead, it works out to about 1/4 acre per family of good 
solar exposure.  

Shelter & More:  

How far into the future do you care about?  If you're planning for the future 
of your children, and their children, design and build for no fossil fuel use.  
I urge all though to avoid thoughts of running for the hills or otherwise 
thinking of solo-survival in a bunker.  

We do not need survivalist thinking, we need minds working toward 
re-engineering our infrastructure to allow for full service yet human scale 

"In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the 
next seven generations"  - From the Great Law of the Iroquois Nation

Ronald Frederick Greek
  Moderator (Electronic Janitor)
Sustainable Tucson
  "Stabilization of human numbers is no solution... To speak of an actual 
reduction of human population - exactly what is needed if the world is to avoid 
unprecedented human dieoff through famine, pestilence, and war - is unthinkable 
and unspeakable, at least in polite company.  Not just Catholics and 
conservatives, but liberals as awll become positively apoplectic if the subject 
is broached.  And so the discussion necessary to understanding our econlogical 
dilemma, and dealing effectively with it, never occurs."
  - Richard Heinberg, Power Down


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