Friday, May 24, 2013

Sustainable resources

I wrote Senator Coburn (R,OK):

I propose a wider application of the word "sustainable". For one thing, measuring the resources a community uses in terms of dollars is *not* sustainable. Just look how the US Government chose to stop including food and fuels in measuring inflation. Or how the Obama administration has devalued the dollar.

 o Lumber used in a community should be sourced within 50 miles, perhaps 50% of lumber within 30 years.

 o Properties forfeited to counties for tax liens could be divided, in lots of 10 and 40 acres, and allotted for a new wave of steadholder, for a low-tech approach to raising food with non-patented seed, no "big" equipment, family occupied and operated. A system of agriculture dependent on government spending, intercontinental supply chains, governmental and private crop and production insurance, and highly technical equipment is *not* sustainable, not if energy or monetary resources are interrupted.

o Employment within walking distance of worker residence, 1.5 miles, should be recognized and encouraged. Commutes further than eight (8) miles should be recognized and discouraged. And, yes, this does penalize monster and big businesses. Stores intending that 80% of customers live within 1.5 miles should be recognized and encouraged. A school should be considered "local" only if 80% of students, 80% of teachers, and all staff live within 1.5 miles.

o Mass transit will not be the answer to challenges to energy supply, not when infrastructure and massive construction projects are based on large amounts of money, and energy, to implement. This is why using less energy is more effective that building out massive wind farms or solar farms.

 o Move to paying taxes "in kind", and return to "county farms" for people requiring assistance and support, rather than interpreting need in dollars.

 o Pass a Congressional budget that is "balanced" -- total  expenditures not to exceed average collected revenues of the immediately preceding three fiscal years. Five year plans sunk Russia. Let us stop playing with other people's money, and make do with what we have. And, please, let us give the government a *stake* in growing the economy that they plan on taking more money from, in funding special interests and cherished programs.

 o Building codes assuming affectations of the wealthy must be re-examined. Single-child bedroom "standards", expectations of hot water in each home, immense housing developments intended to generate developer revenue, rather than conserve community energy, building homes that aren't intended to serve the occupants for generations instead of until the next promotion or transfer. These are wasteful of energy, of money, of strained resources. In general, we have to start valuing resources in terms other than dollars -- like availability if political, economic, or energy expectations are interrupted.

My own feeling is that climate change is here. Recovery will never again be complete while we measure condition and recovery in dollars; we cannot afford it. Whether due to man's consumption (and depletion of) fossil fuels or natural cycles of the Earth or the sun, CO2 levels seem to be rising, and weather is getting more energetic.

Between wider devastation from flooding, drought, and storms from hurricanes and tornadoes to thunderstorms, and the nation's economic woes -- we will *not* be rebuilding to what we, as a nation, had been.

Just looking at the Moore tornado this last week, I think of the lives changed. The homes, and vast amounts of building materials from lumber to cement that were destroyed and must be transported, and much of it replaced. The amount of electrical wiring, fixtures, drywall, nails -- and many of them resources that, if replaced, will further deplete strained resources of labor, material, etc.

What I do *not* hear on the news, though, is the loss to Oklahoma from productive people choosing to leave the state, to find accommodations or work. I don't hear of employment lost as people working at home no longer have the resources to continue to produce, or employers that temporarily or permanently lack a venue to continue operation. Just one example is the schools devastated in the tornado. Most school budgets don't include items for "replace buildings this year". And lack of schools will hamper inspiring people to restore residence nearby, increasing the loss of productive people to the area, if not the state. Some of the loss to Oklahoma will benefit other states, but many employments, and sources of tax revenues and economic contributions, will never recover for the state or the nation.

Whether the people involved receive assistance from the state, the Federal government, or private and religious resources -- that is a drain on national and local economies. My neighbor spent two days, this week, helping with a church group near Shawnee, OK. That meant that two days of his ranching were put off -- including losing much of the hay that he had cut, during a brief window between rains. Some of what he put on hold can be made up, but some will result is loss of crop and herd production.

And that is true everywhere. I expect that the expanding list of "once in a lifetime" events, as they occur more often, are draining the abilities of private and government insurance to respond completely.

The high rate of taxes, and the immense National Debt and ongoing and increasing annual deficits of the United States government, further drain the economy. As for CO2, I argue that government, or other fund raising, represents *overburdened* energy and carbon consumption. I note that gasoline prices are jumping again, perhaps moving toward a stable economic level based on production (limited) and demand (growing)

Thank you.

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