I was very interested in this post, because I think a lot about intentional retreat. I think sprawling suburbs should retreat from high gas prices. I think beach dwellers should retreat from the rising sea. I think Delta farmers should retreat from likely death by flood. I think all sorts of retreat is necessary. I think the important question about retreat is “the easy way or the hard way?”. The hard way will happen by itself, so it doesn’t really require much of us until the very last minute. Communist central planner that I am, I’m in favor of the easy way, which means acknowledging the coming problem and intentionally choosing to address shortages.
I’m super curious about what will happen to sprawled out suburbs. Nearly every day of the week I see a news article about some facet of water use becoming “too expensive”. Local water delivery is either at the edge of their cheap historic supplies or they are being forced to internalize some environmental cost. Every story closes with a quote about how this will mean the end of financial viability for the residents. If aggregated rising costs really do herd people in from large houses on the periphery of cities, what happens to the houses?
I personally think that we should leave the landscape neat and tidy behind us, and salvage what we can from the spectacularly bad decision to put valuable low-entropy resources into house shaped lumps all over the place. That first article talks about businesses who mine abandoned houses. I’ve been wanting to take down abandoned houses as a reverse Burning Man project.
Ever since Chris Clarke pointed out that traveling to a pristine desert and building a city is the most American activity ever, and my other friend said to me that “Burning Man is proof that humans love to work”, I’ve wanted to take a camp of people that would usually go to Burning Man out to some unfinished and languishing development. I think the Burning Man ethic of self-reliance and work should go into dismantling a house or two, stacking it neatly and leaving. That would be anti-consumerist America and a radical statement. I haven’t yet been able to convince my friends that it would be a good way to spend the week before Labor Day. I can’t think why.