Cities and urbanisation

How will oil depletion affect the way we live? What will the economic impact be? How will agriculture change? Will we thrive or merely survive?

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vtsnowedin
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Post by vtsnowedin »

I would think that every city large or small would be able to have the right mix of public and private transport to meet it's needs. Also it would seem apparent that those problems are much easier solved in small to mid sized cities compared to the large cities where history congestion and logistics conspire to make the solution much more elusive.
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Post by kenneal - lagger »

Just reducing private car travel and then using the extra space in roads to plant trees and shrubs down the middle of roads helps to reduce the carbon footprint and make the air breathable again, especially if the public transport and distribution systems are electricity based.

In some of the wider roads there would then be space for food growing as well. The additional green areas would reduce the urban heat island effect which would reduce the demand for cooling in the summer which is often a greater load than heating in the winter. The slightly increased winter heat load could be reduced by insulation.

Turning some of the parkland over to composting and food growing would also help reduce the carbon footprint of food. Using roof tops to produce solar energy again helps energy generation and reduces the heating effect on buildings.

Integrating heating and cooling systems, as has been done to an extent in Southampton and Woking, also contributes to more efficient energy systems. Waste systems, especially sewage, rely heavily on pumps to move the waste from sumps to treatment plants. Although sewers largely work on gravity the modern trunk interceptor drains taking the outflow from local sewers to treatment plants tend to be very deep when they reach the treatment plants and very heavy duty electric pumps carry out this function. Yes, they could be run by solar power or even from sewage derived gas powered generators but that machinery would need to be repaired/replaced at some time and that is one of the functions that is provided by a vulnerable, complex society.

There is obviously an optimum size for a city which, I would think, would be much smaller post fossil fuel than in the fossil fuel era where transport of food into and waste out of the city is much more mechanised. How that dilemma is addressed will be crucial to how many people will survive in the cities of the future.
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vtsnowedin
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Post by vtsnowedin »

kenneal - lagger wrote:Just reducing private car travel and then using the extra space in roads to plant trees and shrubs down the middle of roads helps to reduce the carbon footprint and make the air breathable again, especially if the public transport and distribution systems are electricity based.

In some of the wider roads there would then be space for food growing as well. The additional green areas would reduce the urban heat island effect which would reduce the demand for cooling in the summer which is often a greater load than heating in the winter. The slightly increased winter heat load could be reduced by insulation.

Turning some of the parkland over to composting and food growing would also help reduce the carbon footprint of food. Using roof tops to produce solar energy again helps energy generation and reduces the heating effect on buildings.

Integrating heating and cooling systems, as has been done to an extent in Southampton and Woking, also contributes to more efficient energy systems. Waste systems, especially sewage, rely heavily on pumps to move the waste from sumps to treatment plants. Although sewers largely work on gravity the modern trunk interceptor drains taking the outflow from local sewers to treatment plants tend to be very deep when they reach the treatment plants and very heavy duty electric pumps carry out this function. Yes, they could be run by solar power or even from sewage derived gas powered generators but that machinery would need to be repaired/replaced at some time and that is one of the functions that is provided by a vulnerable, complex society.

There is obviously an optimum size for a city which, I would think, would be much smaller post fossil fuel than in the fossil fuel era where transport of food into and waste out of the city is much more mechanised. How that dilemma is addressed will be crucial to how many people will survive in the cities of the future.
As much as you would like to recycle all the biowaste from the city back to the land in reality wastewater plant sewage sludge often contains enough heavy metals and drug residues to make it unfit for topsoil land spreading where food is to be grown so it is often land filled or regulated to non food producing areas such as Christmas tree farms or highway beautification projects.
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Post by kenneal - lagger »

In the UK most trade waste has been regulated for decades now and no heavy metals are allowed into the sewage system. My wife worked on this sort of thing thirty years ago. Outfalls from industry are monitored and heavy fines are in place if infractions of company limits are detected. The treated sludge is monitored and so is the land upon which the sludge is spread. If levels of chemicals in the soil go above safe limits those fields are taken out of the spreading regime until levels are safe again.

There are strict limits on what the water authority can put into watercourses as well to protect the environment and heavy fines in place for any treatment plants that don't do their job properly. During one particularly dry summer a sewage treatment plant provided almost 100% of the flow through the Duke of Wellington's trout farm. He wrote to the treatment plant to thank them because the river was cleaner during the drought than at any other time!

Such socialist regulation wouldn't be countenanced in the US, I suppose. ;-)
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Post by vtsnowedin »

kenneal - lagger wrote:In the UK most trade waste has been regulated for decades now and no heavy metals are allowed into the sewage system. My wife worked on this sort of thing thirty years ago. Outfalls from industry are monitored and heavy fines are in place if infractions of company limits are detected. The treated sludge is monitored and so is the land upon which the sludge is spread. If levels of chemicals in the soil go above safe limits those fields are taken out of the spreading regime until levels are safe again.

There are strict limits on what the water authority can put into watercourses as well to protect the environment and heavy fines in place for any treatment plants that don't do their job properly. During one particularly dry summer a sewage treatment plant provided almost 100% of the flow through the Duke of Wellington's trout farm. He wrote to the treatment plant to thank them because the river was cleaner during the drought than at any other time!

Such socialist regulation wouldn't be countenanced in the US, I suppose. ;-)
Actually I think our regulations are very similar when it comes to the heavy metals. The problem is that even though disposing of them down a sewer is illegal they keep showing up down at the plant and there is no way to trace back to which toilet flushed them. The latest thing is the drug residue and antibiotic problem which they are just getting their head wrapped around. We have fish out there that have grown up on a steady diet of penicillin and percocets.
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Post by woodburner »

Oh, the antibiotic problem. Never mind, better to use them for scarlet fever rather than a bandwagon compound like vitamin C which would have been non-toxic to the system, the environment and more effective as a treatment. Never let facts get in the way of making a profit for some mega-corp.
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Post by Lurkalot »

I find it a little amusing that the congestion and problems that are the surge of many old towns are caused by trying to introduce thousands of cars into an envoiroment which never envisioned such a thing and here we are now suggesting making that city sustainable by removing those cars . Full circle and all that.
On the whole the appeal of repurposing areas currently devoted to the car for other things such as ken suggests sounds good but as to how people would take to the idea of turning their drives into allotments is another question entirely. I can't help thinking it would take a radical change in the economy for such a thing to happen , similar to how the Cuban economy had to change with the collapse of the Soviet Union .
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Post by woodburner »

The Cuban health system is able to look after people in a way most western countries struggle to achieve.
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Post by kenneal - lagger »

vtsnowedin wrote: .....Actually I think our regulations are very similar when it comes to the heavy metals. The problem is that even though disposing of them down a sewer is illegal they keep showing up down at the plant and there is no way to trace back to which toilet flushed them. .....
Heavy metals aren't usually flushed down toilets in large quantities. They are used in industrial processes which are quite readily traceable or they are in the UK.
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Post by kenneal - lagger »

woodburner wrote:The Cuban health system is able to look after people in a way most western countries struggle to achieve.
Probably because they pay their doctors about $30 a month. Not something our doctors would contemplate!
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Post by Little John »

kenneal - lagger wrote:
woodburner wrote:The Cuban health system is able to look after people in a way most western countries struggle to achieve.
Probably because they pay their doctors about $30 a month. Not something our doctors would contemplate!
Well, they are clearly not short of people wanting to sign up to be doctors in Cuba given that they have, I believe, the best doctor/patient ratio in the world.

So, either Cuban doctors get a lot of perks or they just... you know... believe in their system because, in Cuba, they really ARE all in it together.

Just a thought.
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Post by fuzzy »

Quite so, my experience of institutions that pay the riches of Cresus is that they just attract the money grubbers from around the world. I believe the Cuban medical system trains other S. American medical staff which might pay the bills.
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Post by kenneal - lagger »

Little John wrote:... they really ARE all in it together. ...
Unless they are a Cuban who works in the tourism sector when they can get an awful lot more in tips.

They "export" a lot of doctors to other countries in exchange for goods and especially oil.
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Post by Potemkin Villager »

A city for tomorrow built from scratch would be an interesting design concept. Someone must have done this already.
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Post by clv101 »

Potemkin Villager wrote:A city for tomorrow built from scratch would be an interesting design concept. Someone must have done this already.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masdar_City

"Masdar City will be the latest of a small number of highly planned, specialized, research and technology-intensive municipalities that incorporate a living environment, similar to KAUST, Saudi Arabia or Tsukuba Science City, Japan."
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