Saturday, May 20, 2006


Peak Oil and Lansing


This blog is about Lansing ("our fair city") MI, and oil--or, more precisely, the impending lack thereof.

This blog is here now because Lansing is totally unprepared for the end of the cheap oil fiesta and the beginning of what urban and suburban "planning" critic James Howard Kunstler calls "The Long Emergency." That's the mission here: helping the people in this community take up the issues that need to be addressed if we are not only to survive, but thrive.

We're behind the curve already. The city that claims to have put the world on wheels is utterly dependent on the black gold that made those wheels go for the last century, and go so well that a form of transportatation (the car) became, ipso facto, a key organizing principle of society, around which all other social forms revolved.

But even nimble little startup organizations (such as the Pentagon) and cities that are already much better equipped to deal with the end of cheap energy (such as SF and Portland, Oregon) have beamed on to the impending problem. And they have started to take action. Which is essential, because there is little time to lose. A consultant that the Department of Energy hired to look at the problem refused to say when he thought Peak Oil would occur --- but he did say that, whenever the Peak was, we would only avoid catastrophic consequences to our economy and by an intensive, 20-year Apollo and Manhattan Project level of effort beforehand.

Obviously, we forgot to make that level of effort. So, just as with global warming, we're committed to an unspecified amount of disruption and dislocation. But that doesn't mean that we can't make the best possible use of the energy we still have available to us now, while it's still relatively cheap and abundant.

And, despite its current failure to prepare, Lansing also has a lot of positive assets for the post-petroleum future, which we will naturally take up as the discussion continues.

Anyway, welcome to the blog. Bookmark it, visit often, and join the discussion.

Looks great, John! I got your link to this blog on the same day that I got a reply back from Carol Wood about a message I had sent to the mayor's office. (Not sure why she's responding to the mayor's email, but anyway...) In my email I mentioned a great article in the NYT on how Chicago is working hard to become more sustainable, and in the process, it has seen lots of great green businesses sprout up (green roofs, native-plant landscapers, etc.) and seen its population and incomes increase. Here it is:

So Carol Wood here is how Carol Wood responds:
"I did read the article and that is why I do support green space and what it says in a community. We have a step up from Chicago with all that we have done over the years with regards to trees and City Parks. As a matter of fact I just had someone share with me a 1942 copy of American Cities and it was talking about things that other communities were doing from Public Safety to Transportation. There was a section about Lansing and ALL the trees we have planted and that was in 1942."

I had always claimed Lansing is stuck in 1986, but now I stand's actually 1942!

I also mentioned to her that idea about turning the parcel at MLK and K'zoo into a park with a lake, surrounded by townhouses. Here was her reply:

"As for the other idea, the property at that intersection is privately owned, so at the present time that is really not an option."

The depth and breadth of the laziness, complacency and lack of vision in this city is so vast that I have to suppress my thoughts about it to keep from going insane.

James Gray
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