Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Decentralize Food as Well as Power

Now that the "official" unemployment figures are at least 10.2 percent, it seems like a great time to focus on what kind of recovery we can collectivly create. As I have posted a number of times on this blog, the chances of returning to a debt and consumpution fueled ecomony are pretty small.

San Francisco Fed President Dr. Yellen asked today how strong the upturn will be. With high unemployment and idle productive capacity, we will need a very strong rebound to put unemployed people back to work and get underutilized factories, offices, and stores humming again. Traditional demand will most probably grow at too slow a pace to support vigorous expansion in the traditional markets. So what are we to do instead?

I suggest we take a step back and see what areas we desperately need to grow and begin pouring stimulus funds in those directions instead of our habit of propping up industries which may be past their usefulness and do not support the creation of a lower-carbon and more sustainable society. The efforts by the Federal and many State governments to encourage a green economy could be a great start. Supporting renewable energy technologies and an infrastructure to support it is already receiving much attention and is gain traction. Another segment worth immediate attention is food production.

The move to decentralize our power generation system should be followed by the creation of thousands of smaller more localized farms. These can create tens of thousands of productive jobs, will help to increase local food security and improve the freshness of our food by bringing it closer to where it is consumed. A Colorado company is pioneering a concept they call Agriburbia which combines residential and commercial development with local food production. Growing vegetables and raising small farm animals close to home may turn out to be one of the most important steps we can make to begin to rehire people who have lost their jobs while building local resilience.

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