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Self-Sufficience v. Sustainable Cities

The question is which idea is better. Maintaining an individual or group's self-sufficience by way of the green construction of "off-the-grid" homes that depend entirely on on-site green energy, and growing one's own produce and livestock to sustain themselves and those in their community. This is an argument to DISPURSE the concentration of populations that happen in cities, and in turn decrease crime and the massive polution that comes from cities. OR Agenda 21, which is the plan to concentrate populations INTO cities to creat single places of higher density populations while leaving the rest of the environment out in the country to heal itself, without the presence of humankind. Which is better?

Closing Statement from Evan Young

I think Scott and Alex proved the came to the table with the best points here. Both types are, in fact, necessary. I agree with the the statment about anyone who has land that does NOT grow, being a waste. When one owns a their own land, it is their responsibility to utilize it , and at the same time maintain it and better it.
I'll agree with Scott's statement about their being better transportation in the cities as well. the very few times I have had my misfortunes to find myself in the high density center of Boston, i did find it was certainly easy to get around with minimal to no fuel usage.
Everyone who had something to say here had fantastic points, and I thank you for the well thought responses. But know as a closing item, I will play Devil's Advocate simply to present an item to ponder for a while:

It is true, some people do want to live in the city, and many prefer the country life. But remember, fewer people than we realize actually drive hybrids or purely electric cars, and some people also refuse to drive hybrids because they WANT to drive fuel burning vehicles. Why serve to one lifystyle group, while treading on the other under foot and leaving them by the wayside? The massive use of fuel that this country goes through is detrimental to the environment indeed, but here's something to consider. The amount of emmisions produced by say a prius, when driven by from a blue color business man from here in Worcester "Woodchuck" County, MA all the way into the center of Boston is quite close if not more than "hillbilly" Joe driving his diesel F-350 across town to work (Remeber, regular diesel is actually cleaner burning AND more fuel efficient than gasoline).
I guess my argument is this, construct green construction closer to the cities for those who wish to work there, and at the same time encourage "off the grid" construction everywhere else. a safe and very stewardly compromise. to continue feel free to email me, eyoung3@mwcc.edu

  • Jan 29 2013: I think both are necessary, not everybody wants to live in the city and not everybody wants to live in a rural setting. And we also need redundant systems that can back-up each other in case of peak demands or natural disasters. We cannot put something as important as food in a single basket. Something I have to say is that anybody with a piece of land that doesn't grow some food is just a waste.
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    Jan 29 2013: A city is like a potato. Most people think of the vegetable, but it's really a plant with roots and leaves that allow it to grow. For a city to be sustainable, all the resources that support it must be sustainable. The agriculture, the transportation of that food, the energy, the building materials, the means of shipping that allow for trade, and the disposal of waste must all be sustainable. That's no easy task.

    People look at life in the city and see greener options. There is better public transportation, car sharing, and more like minded green thinking people. Those cities are just as dependent on the polluting resources in industrial developments as the workers in a small coal mining town are. As a person who recently moved from a smaller place (kelowna, BC, Canada) to a larger city (Vancouver BC) if have found that I have larger commutes, less gardening space and find local food to be more expensive. There are a lot of like minded environmentalists here, but I am more dependent on fossil fuels than I was before.

    Cities are an inevitable part of human civilization. People like to gather. There is also a certain amount of efficiency in cities (check out this talk http://www.ted.com/talks/geoffrey_west_the_surprising_math_of_cities_and_corporations.html). However, a city is only as sustainable as the resources that sustain it. It is in the small towns that those resources come from that people will be more able to live "off the grid".

    I think localized self-sufficiency is easier to achieve in the short term and adds resiliency to the system. However, its not an option for everyone. I bit of both I guess is the best we can hope for.
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    W. Ying

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    Jan 28 2013: .
    Only the "Self-Sufficience" is feasible!
    Only this way, we can meets all the requirements of our instincts.
    Only by the latter, we can be happy validly, survive without self-extinction.

    Instincts are our ancestors' successful experiences formed 10,000 years ago and saved in our DNA.


    (For details, see 1st article, points 1-3, 14, at https://skydrive.live.com/?cid=D24D89AE8B1E2E0D&id=D24D89AE8B1E2E0D%21283&sc=documents)
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    Gail .

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    Jan 28 2013: I remember two relevant studies that come to mind. One involved monkeys on an island off Japan. The monkeys were fed sweet potatoes every day - enough to sustain the entire colony. The monkeys, in the presence of abundant food, reproduced accordingly. When the island was over-run with monkeys, bedlam took over. Monkeys formed into gangs and they were dangerous. They raped, murdered, and terrorized other monkeys. Their societies broke down.

    A similar study was done that involved rats who were amply fed and allowed to multiply with no increase in size of the cage. The same thing happened.
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      Jan 28 2013: .
      Humankind will not be the similar because they will eventually know well what invalid happiness is.
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        Gail .

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        Jan 28 2013: They might know better if you would stop using the phrase "invalid happiness" and find a way to express your idea using words that people will understand. Would you please take the time to explain what you mean? Last time I commented on this, I had a lot of thumbs up regarding it - so there is an interest.
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          Jan 29 2013: .
          Thank you very much for your help !
          I am sorry I cause problems.

          By "invalid" I mean that a thing which is good or valid 10,000 years ago but not good or invalid now. (The "invalid" is the literal translation from Chinese 无效)
          Could you kindly show me the right word ?
          Thanks in advance !
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        Jan 28 2013: I agree with TED Lover that it would be courteous and helpful if you were to define "invalid happiness" here rather than using the term all the time without explanation as a way of steering traffic to your blog, perhaps?
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          Jan 29 2013:
          Thank you very much !
          I will certainly attach my definition of invalid happiness from now on.
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        Jan 29 2013: Thank you for clarifying. So "invalid happiness" means being happy with something that you think shouldn't make a person happy today but would have been okay to be happy with 10,000 years ago?
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          Jan 29 2013: Yes.
          Such as having junk food, drinking, smoking, taking drug .... making too much money.
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    Jan 29 2013: Second is better. The global population simply cannot live dispersed throughout the earth in small families settlements.

    We need to make huge building cities, surrounded by nature, one huge building capable of sustaining 5 million people each.
    We have to make 1800 to 2000 of those for the earth population.

    Ideally they should be built as they were mountains, or replacing existing mountains chain.
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    Jan 28 2013: I would think the first, because as people do their own farming, I'd think they become more tuned into and protective of nature.
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      Jan 29 2013: There is simply not enough land available for everyone to own a piece of land.

      And yet who will be the lucky ones to live in the middle of the Sahara or in Antarctica, food wouldn't grow everywhere.
  • Jan 28 2013: I for one would like to know the definition of "invalid happiness."

    The studies the TED Lover provided explain the essence of my point exactly. We don't "fix" humankind by making our energy greener and more environmentaly friendly but ONLY in small concentration cities. It needs to be wide spread. Otherwise, we will have a massive re-play of that studie done with monkeys near Japan. Take a population, spread it thin but not TOO thin and teach them how to harness energy in a greener fasion, and we will see a tremendous decrease in polution and crime. Why does it seem to me that a lot of the speakers in the videos shown here speak praises of green sustainable cities, yet leave the true stewards, the farmers, fall by the way side? Let us speak praises of those small farming communities out there who have harnessed green power.

    Experience, creative thinking, intelligence, all leading to instinct is what taught many of our ancesters how to collect seeds and plant them in a fasion which would yield fruit at an acceptable, if not optimal rate. We evolved and became better at it and on larger scales. BUT. like all things, there is a deffinitive line that draws the end to the good. On the other side of that line is where we "think" we are advancing because this luxurious hybrid gets THIS many miles to the gallon, or this phone has THIS many apps, so we must be evovling. There is such a thing as detrimental evolution, where as we advance ourselves far to much for the world we live in. And cities, green or otherwise, cultivate this maner of thinking...

    As humans, who happen to be the most intelligent creatures on earth, one would think that we would keep in tune with our roots and continue to find better and better ways to be self-sufficient by way of sustainment, like our ancestors, not co-dependent on governement and technology like our youth are today. The more we depend on external forces and not individual ingenuity to survive, the more devolved we will become.
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      Jan 29 2013: ...
      Thank you very much for your help !
      I am sorry I cause problems.

      By "invalid" I mean that a thing which is good or valid 10,000 years ago but not good or invalid now. (The "invalid" is the literal translation from Chinese 无效)
      Such as having junk food, drinking, smoking, taking drug .... making too much money.
      Could you kindly show me the right word ?


      Thanks in advance !