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Thread: Productivity, not frugality, to make the world a better place. This is much more sensible.

  1. #1 Productivity, not frugality, to make the world a better place. This is much more sensible. 
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    Looks like I have to get yet another book from an interesting writer, Jeb Brugman

    " Instead of thinking of sustainability as about saving energy, living more frugally, and making sacrifices, we should be looking out how we re-invent cities as places that produce resources rather than consume them.
    ....
    The standard view of cities, built into the notion of ecological footprint, is that cities are extraction engines – the city acts as a machine that extracts resources from the surrounding environment, processes these resources to generate value, and produces waste products that must be disposed of. Most work on sustainable cities frames the task as an attempt to reduce the impact of this process, by designing eco-efficient cities. For example, the use of secondary production (e.g. recycling) and designed dematerialization (reduction of waste in the entire product lifecycle) to reduce the inflow of resources and the outflow of wastes.

    Jeb argues a more audacious goal is needed: We should transform our cities into net productive systems. Instead of focussing on reducing the impact of cities, we should use urban ecology and secondary production so that the city becomes a net positive resource generator. This is far more ambitious than existing projects that aim to create individual districts that are net zero (e.g. that produce as much energy as they consume, through local solar and wind generation). The next goal should be productive cities: cities that produce more resources than they consume; cities that process more waste than they produce."
    Extracts from Jeb Brugmann – The Productive City | Serendipity

    The idea of making cities work rather than restricting how they operate is much more appealing to me - and probably to everyone. Once people look at things this way, it changes the way they look at things around them.

    Living in an arid place, this is obviously the way to go with our water. Saving rainwater, collecting stormwater, preventing stormwater runoff by porous paving and other soakage systems, recycling as much water as possible rather than piping it from an over stressed river or building more desal plants.

    People in other places presumably would have similar attitudes to their local highest priority.


    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
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  3. #2  
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    I like the article though I can't honestly say I like much of anything about cities. I do know they are far more efficient than rural living already and have a lot of potential to be even more efficient. I'd love to see vertical farming become viable.


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    I have to admit. I talk about 'cities' but I come from the suburbs. I doubt I could tolerate what you're referring to either.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
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  5. #4  
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    I came across an interesting farming venture that's the inverse of making cities productive - a combined solar powered hydroponics farm in a very dry area that desalinates it's own water as well as (most of the time) uses solar for power. It's a trial farm near Port Augusta, South Australia (not too far from where you live Adelady) in an area which otherwise could not support intensive farming and sounded like it was proving itself to be economically viable for high value crops like tomatoes The focus on using otherwise unusable water resources and aim for minimum energy inputs makes it more widely applicable. But, like all enclosed and intensive agriculture it's the capital costs that are the issue; I'm not sure the backbone of global food supplies - the large scale grain crops - will be so readily isolated from the weather and climate it currently depends on.

    Lynx Fox, there was an interesting SciAm article about future farming that explored high rise farming. Full article is unfortunately paywalled.

    Good design clearly matters. I've mentioned William McDonough & Michael Braungart before. Their ideas about closing the waste to resources cycle - "Waste Equals Food" looks at the biological side and "Cradle to Cradle" about technological recycling are well worth a look. The latter addresses the problems of current modes of recycling (downcycling) that see recycled materials degraded and not able to be used in the same applications or at the same quality. Ultimately current methods slow the process of turning resources into waste without stopping it.

    They are heavily into better design for urban and industrial environments. Not all theoretical; they've successfully done some large scale projects.
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