Oct. 23, 2007
There have been many predictions pertaining to the future of human population here on good old planet Earth. Our most immediate concern should not only be about the overall population of the world, but where they will live. More specifically, we should concern ourselves about the idea that the world’s urban population will grow from 2.86 billion in 2000 to 4.98 billion by 2030, and about 60 percent of the world’s population will live in major metropolitan areas, according to a 2004/05 UN-HABITAT report, State of the World’s Cities. The report suggests that potential urban growth is close to one million people (a city the size of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania!) every week.
Where do most of these people come from? Rural communities. Throughout the world people are steadily streaming from rural areas to urban areas, thus creating an incredible drain on rural communities across the globe. This trend has accelerated in many developing countries and there are many reasons for this migration. In some regions the primary reason has been the onslaught of globalization. As developing nations try to follow the advice of more developed nations of the world and lower trade barriers, many rural families are finding themselves unable to compete with agricultural products imported by wealthier nations who subsidize farmers. When farmers in a developing economy try to compete with products coming into their country, they simply cannot. With their livelihood taken away they tend to migrate toward larger urban areas looking for work. In many places the influx of people to urban areas simply overwhelms the capacity of limited infrastructure, both physical and social. This causes a marked increase in environmental degradation and a deeper level of poverty.
Throughout human history farmers and rural communities have been the cornerstone from which every other great achievement has been built upon. Reversing the urban movement of our fellow citizens and assisting them to re-locate back to the country must be one of the paramount goals of our society today. We must slow the rapid growth of urban sprawl and environmental degradation, and re-vitalize Rural Communities. Our primary goal of Ecolonomic development must use this cornerstone idea as the foundation of a new global movement toward a better future for all people.
In any rural area we start with an Ecolonomic Resource Assessment to see what is locally available in terms of natural resources, waste stream, agricultural, forest and industrial by-products. Technologies that utilize these resources as feedstock are identified and prescribed. The Ecolonomic Plan developed from this information will become the long-term foundation of a new sustainable economy. The Ecolonomic assessment will be a combination of a natural/cultural resource inventory that takes into consideration any native or non-native agricultural crops that could be used for local energy production as well as crops with food and industrial yield.
How do we make it happen? Local Production will equal Economic Benefits and the money the residents pay for all goods and services that are locally produced stays in the community and circulates.
This plan addresses five basic Ecolonomic areas needing development in order for a rural area to become secure, prosperous, healthy, and independent.
1. Develop liquid fuel production locally to reduce dependence on foreign oil.
2. Develop local production of electricity to reduce dependence on the insecure and antiquated grid system.
3. Develop local production and processing of food.
4. Develop housing systems utilizing local materials and labor.
5. Develop a range of value added products that may be produced from the resource base that may be marketed outside of the area to bring in capital.
Ecolonomics is an idea designed for people who want to be responsible for their path on this planet and live in harmony and comfort. It is one facet of a multi-faceted program to regain the HEALTHY link with the earth upon which we depend for all of our needs. Ecolonomics takes the best technologies for electrical production and storage, clean water supply, wastewater management, climate control, as well as low embodied energy in the whole system. This will be a dynamic and ever-evolving system as new technologies are brought on line to be integrated into the system should they be found to be superior to the existing system for that particular function.
We know that a general trend of urbanization is unlikely to change in light of our efforts, but at least we can take charge and make sure that change happens for the right reasons, and not simply that our way of life means that others must necessarily change theirs.