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I would want to start from scratch

Huh?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 05:18:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...this is going just too hypothetical... I was thinking of the Apollo 13 movie - have you seen it? There is a scene where the NASA engineers need to pull an electronical trick without crossing a certain volts (or watts?) threshold. I was just moulding a similar thought experiment.

This is what I wonder: if you take away all of the advantages of the fossil fuel society since the Industrial Revolution - you end up in a world that would probably resemble the Amish communities quite well. I believe that the Amish are practically self-sustainable - I still have not confirmed whether they truly are, but let's assume just that.

So. Boundary Condition:
1) Self-sustainable

Parameters:

  1. Ecological Foot Print of X
  2. Carbon emissions of Y
  3. Others

You take that as your basic structure, then add chunks of our modern society into the Amish "model" and track at what point self-sustainable turns into unsustainable. It's merely a thought experiment of finding the breaking point of sustainable communities.

By taking the modern world as starting point at the premise of being unsustainable, you'll have to take stuff away to get to your sustainable society - eg, you model backward. I would like to know what stuff of the modern world can be slotted into a working sustainable model - modelling forward. That's "working from scratch".

I just realise that the phrases forward and backward modelling may be just typical earth scientist expressions... I've never seen it in other literature. Anyone here to contradict me?

by Nomad on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 06:34:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is what I wonder: if you take away all of the advantages of the fossil fuel society since the Industrial Revolution - you end up in a world that would probably resemble the Amish communities quite well. I believe that the Amish are practically self-sustainable - I still have not confirmed whether they truly are, but let's assume just that.

...

By taking the modern world as starting point at the premise of being unsustainable, you'll have to take stuff away to get to your sustainable society - eg, you model backward. I would like to know what stuff of the modern world can be slotted into a working sustainable model - modelling forward. That's "working from scratch".

Except that the "modern world" has a knowledge base and a technological infrastructure which allows you to do things that would be impossible from the Amish starting point. But I get your point: assume you start from just an undeveloped plot of land [but in contact with the modern knowledge and technological base] and see where you can get.

I just found this:

The Japanese experience of complete self-reliance in the Edo period demonstrated the sustainability of more than 0.3 hectares per capita given for agriculture, even though the country was not very rich. With less than 0.1 hectare per capita it would be very difficult to maintain even the minimal nutrition level. Note that the world average has decreased from 0.25 hectares per capita in the 1950s to 0.15 hectares per capita in the 1990s, which may be critical for a sustainable level in the future.
Does that mean that you can get away with 1/3 of a hectare per person? I seemed to remember something like 2.5ha were necessary to sustain one person. The world's population density is indeed equivalent to 2.3ha per person. The EU's population density corresponds to .87ha per person (wiki).

Anyway, Barbara and I have this concept we call ETopia, which is basically the 150 most active ETers and their immediate families on enough land to support everyone. If you have 500 hectares of land, €5M of capital and 150 ETers of human capital, can you build a sustainable community for 600 people somewhere in Europe?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 07:33:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That idea has legs. It's the first time I see the concept here; have you or Barbara written about this before?  

Except that the "modern world" has a knowledge base and a technological infrastructure which allows you to do things that would be impossible from the Amish starting point.

Well, otherwise it wouldn't be possible to "upgrade" an Amish community! I agree that the technological infrastructure is something off a cheat; it would need rethinking. (How do the Amish get their asphalt anyway?)

by Nomad on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 04:31:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, we've been hashing the idea around and thinking about writing a diary about it.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 04:35:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps you could reach for a solution for the agonising inferior kiwi problem too?
by Nomad on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 04:43:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What is the most productive [yield per hectare] sustainable technique for growing crops, and how tasty are they?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 04:48:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Growing in New Zealand?
by Nomad on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 05:26:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You have a narrow definition of "crops".

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 05:40:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Only for kiwis.
by Nomad on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 06:47:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One also has to think of economies of scale, or rather of limitations imposed by small scales. There are technologies that simply cannot be deployed by a community below a certain size.

My point is that the technological infrastructure is not a cheat, it's precisely what allows you more control of the way to get there from here, and it may be what makes it possible to begin with.

I mean, suppose the Amish wanted to build a wind turbine. Are the turbine blades going to be made or wood, or wrought by an ironmonger? Where do you get advanced materials from?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 04:45:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On available infrastructure - it's the one I was going to blithely ignore to avoid instant headaches, but you've me cornered now. Like your turbine question, the same is applicable for plugging in televisions, radios, washing machines, etc - you'll need materials, facilities, transport. It relentlessly enlarges the perspective - perhaps to the point it's actually realistic to integrate the community within an equally sustainable society. But that's too much for my bookkeeping skills...

Therefore I thought to simplify: I'd start by ignoring all of the above, and just begin with everything that's presently available. From iron wind turbines, to chemical toilets, just assume you've a giant stockpile of everything at hand, Community SimCity 2000 with unlimited funds. Then, move on to the larger perspective and see how sustainable the community can actually stay.

On scale: Also very valid, and in connection to the above point. Adapted to a simplified community, lifting on the technological advantages of the modern world, I'd use scale for at what point modern techniques can be adopted for a community. Say, greenhouse techniques, or housing. At what point could your community cook on poop? 500 people? 1500?

Anyone interested in programming SimCommunities 2000?

by Nomad on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 05:24:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At what point could your community cook on poop? 500 people? 1500?

According to professor Nomad of the Netherlands, never

There, the waste material is brought to normal air pressures and a yeasting reaction starts - producing methane and CO2 which can be used to produce electricity. The first estimates predict that about 10 percent of the houses (so 3 out of a total of 32) can be sufficiently powered this way.
So 50 people can cook out of the poop of 500?

Or are you wondering how large a community has to be before it can build the infrastructure necessary for 10% of its energy to come from poop?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 11:03:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes to your question - What's the minimum limit of people in a community to get a 10% return? If we take the Sneek example, some 32 families (100-120 people?) now forms the lower limit.

But also: Is there a point (scale) that the return gets larger than 10 percent? If we have 500 people, do we get a larger return, say 15%, or will it always be 10%? I've learned in Sweden that a follow-up for some 500 houses in Sneek with the same sewage system is practically go, so we might actually get an answer on that question - in a few years.

by Nomad on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 12:21:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have no practical competences whatsoever. What would you want me for in your ETopia?

Stuck on a pole as a target for pagan non-ceremonies?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 06:12:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You could be the mayor.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 06:17:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If instead of 600 people and on 6 Km^2 I give you the whole of France, are you of any use?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 06:19:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe you could come up with some complicated mechanism for financing it?
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 06:19:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And how many practical competences do you think I have?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 08:52:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 12:26:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Come now. Your job is: produce kiwis so good you forget all about NZ kiwifruit. And ETopia eats wonderful kiwis all winter.

Signed: Kolkhoz Manager.

(Well, kibbutz? Kommune?)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 12:33:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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