* To establish feasibility, it is necessary to include some items in the energy invested term that are normally not thought of as investments. For example, the cost of sequestering such carbon dioxide as will be produced by the energy technology under investigation should be added to the energy invested term because feasibility requires that our society be sustainable (until astronomical events intervene). In this thought experiment, the support of an alternative energy technology would be the sole concern of every citizen.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sustainable Land Use

I would like to thank Azniv Petrosyan for suggesting the use of remote imaging to assess land use, in particular to assess bio-diversity in wilderness areas.  Other than that I do not see how her paper “A Model for Incorporated Measurement of Sustainable Development Comprising Remote Sensing Data and Using the Concept of Biodiversity” can be at all helpful.  In particular, although it mentions population, it does not seem to recognize that the population must be shrinking or steady at its optimum in any sustainable community.  Most important of all, the paper does not recognize the limits to growth nor does it insist upon a closed energy balance that does not consume fossil fuels.  It is unlikely that research in sustainability that does not somehow depend upon Howard Odum’s beginnings can be relevant.  But, then, I do not expect any help in our present dire crisis from the employees of universities, corporations, governments, or private labs – except insofar as they violate the bounds of their employment, which sometimes happens.  It’s unfortunate that most of us must find a way to make a living.  Not many scientists will thank me if I tell them that they should earn it in some other way than from science and that they should do science unfettered by the restraints of their employment.  At the risk of being labelled an elitist, I must point out that many giants in the age of giants were independently wealthy or employed outside science.

Now here is the new thinking that Azniv’s paper inspired:  Let us divide all land use into (1) wilderness, (2) park-like areas, (3) garden-like areas, (4) residential, (5) agricultural, and (6) industrial areas.

1.   Wilderness Area:  This must be growing and bio-diversity should not be diminished.

2.   Park-like areas:  These may grow at the expense of all other areas except garden-like areas and wilderness.  They constitute the most important scenic outlooks and recreational areas such as beaches where there can be vigorous (but not destructive) human behavior (hiking, swimming, camping, fishing, perhaps even hunting – but not the use of off-road vehicles).   Ideally, wild and domestic animals might have free access to parks depending upon mutual tolerance.

3.  Garden-like areas that are cultivated but where vigorous human activity and, of course, industrial activity including agricultural is excluded.  I have extolled the notion of Earth as a Garden in my earlier writing and I still like the concept.  Humans may enter such areas but only gardeners may interact with it.  The growth or maintenance of such areas should be similar to park-like areas.  A certain amount of food should come from gardens; but, it must not be “farmed” with heavy equipment.

4.  Residential areas should be shrinking or less populous but not growing.  They may have an index associated with them that accounts for gardens and parks within them.

5.  Agricultural area adjusted for partial or intermittent use should be steady or shrinking and should employ sustainable methods.  I do not know much about permaculture; I must assume that it is truly sustainable.  Further, I assume that no fossil fuel is employed.

6.  Industrial areas – even after adjustments for the areas required to harvest sunlight and prevent pollution must not be growing.

Although I have not discussed mixed use areas, I have said enough for now – considering that these ideas originated only an hour or two ago.  Let me sleep on this.  In the meantime, I hope to hear from others.

I should have been back here editing this entry the daay after it was posted, that is, just as soon as I realized that I did not list urban areas separately.  Clearly, we shall have cities for yet a little while longer, although they should shrink until the last vestiges of commerce and finance have vanished.  Cities should be centers of art and entertainment.

7.  Urban areas should be shrinking rapidly for quite awhile.  Let us say that they are changing to mixed use, as it is difficult to compactify urban sprawl.