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High-rise farms?

 
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Double posted. Mod please delete me.
 
Creighton Samuels
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Chris Kott wrote:

Creighton might disagree with me, but if the stationary battery storage issue has, indeed, been solved ages ago, it should be a simple matter of policy and economic incentive to help cities develop decentralised energy storage for off-peak generation times for solar and wind. It could be neighbourhood-scale, up to city scale, or it could be, in a move toward greater resiliency, a network of installations for individual high-rises, whereby excess power is stored throughout the system, to be released to the network when demand is higher. We seem to have no issue building parking accommodations and utility spaces deep underground; why wouldn't this work for giant batteries?

-CK



Hmmm.  Certainly we can build the necessary structures, but if there is any limitations to this idea, it's still a question of scale.  When I said that the stationary battery technology has been around for 100 years, I intended that in the sense that we know how to do it.  What I didn't really mention is that at a civilization wide scale, the material resources to make that work don't really exist, not using batteries anyway.  Not enough lead to make lead-acid batteries, not enough nickel to make nickel-iron (Edison) batteries, not enough cobalt, etc to make more modern batteries.  I'm not certain that it couldn't be done in some combination of those technologies, but even the broad scale attempt at doing so would distort those commodities markets in ways that cannot be predicted.  We already have international treaties that make trading in "blood diamonds" from warzones an international crime, would laws against trading in "blood cobalt" come next?  The issue here are the unintended consequences, not the technical abilities of funding or constructing any single city-wide power storage facility.

Perhaps a more civilized method of dealing with such a problem is to ration off-peak power usage, forcing the grid connected public to change their work and usage patterns to better fit the instantaneously available power, and leaving the off-peak power production (such as hydroelectric) reserved for critical uses such as hospitals.  We even know how to build a refrigerator that can "store" cold using phase-change materials, they just cost more to produce that way.
 
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Of course, entire cities of the populations & needs that exist today switching back to wood gas after natural gas stops flowing can't be sustainable either.  But then, nor do I consider the current population density of the Eastern seaboard to be sustainable; so either way, that which cannot continue will eventually cease; and an energy crunch or water shortage are exactly the right kind of crisis that would force the issue.



Creighton, what size of city do you think is sustainable? (Leaving aside issues such as Las Vegas.)

Chris, what size of cities would you consider sustainable?
 
Creighton Samuels
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Gilbert Fritz wrote:

Of course, entire cities of the populations & needs that exist today switching back to wood gas after natural gas stops flowing can't be sustainable either.  But then, nor do I consider the current population density of the Eastern seaboard to be sustainable; so either way, that which cannot continue will eventually cease; and an energy crunch or water shortage are exactly the right kind of crisis that would force the issue.



Creighton, what size of city do you think is sustainable? (Leaving aside issues such as Las Vegas.)



In geographic locations that ancient cities would likely form, such as were two bodies of water intersect, (i.e. where a navigable river from the interior reaches a sea or large lake) and no resource limitations on the availability of water, good soil, decent growing weather during the summer season or wood, I'd consider half million to be the practical limitation.  Any region that does not have direct access to a navigable waterway would be way less.  We know from history, that smaller towns would form around such ancient cities, spreading out away from the main city about every 10 miles along any reasonable path, because the distance that a person could reasonably walk to a marketplace and return in the same day is about 5 miles each direction.  The size of those towns were typically limited to the number of people that could either walk to nearby fields to work, or performed some kind of necessary trade skill that the farms within 5 miles would regularly require.  The legacy of such an effect is all over the Eastern seaboard of the United States, although most of the actual impact has been covered over by suburbia and urban sprawl.  Cities can only support their citizens with the ability to trade at distance, over water typically, and form because such long distance trade is how fortunes were once made.
 
Creighton Samuels
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Gilbert Fritz wrote:

What a very Dickens viewpoint on urban living.  The fact of the matter is that cities do exist as a natural consequence of the human drive towards trade, and there will always be a significant portion of the population that prefers an urban lifestyle.  Granted, any city larger than about half a million people is likely too large to sustain itself in any long term energy crunch, but cities have existed for as long as civilization has existed, and they will continue to exist.



I'd agree. I'd also think that any city of less then half a million people wouldn't really need that tall of buildings . . . (Rome may have had a million inhabitants 1900 years ago, and they couldn't build much over 10 stories, if that. And it was a fairly compact city.)



At it's peak, it may have had as many as a million people; but history has proven that was not a sustainable population.  At this same time, Rome would have had the aquaducts in good working order, a feat of infrastructure engineering that no other city in the world could replicate before the widespread establishment of municipal water districts.  Which, notably, came after the invention of public gas lighting.  The driving force for such municipal water districts had more to do with the rise of the science of epidemiology, after John Snow could prove that cholera outbreaks in the city of London could be traced back to one particular public well pump on Broad Street.  Prior to this time, there was not the public demand for an institution that was responsible for ensuring the safety or quality of water sources.

Once public water districts were common, this led to the invention of the common water toilet, since such water functioned well both as the medium by which waste was transported away from the home as well as the power supply by which it functioned.  If (when) an energy crunch limits the availability of water resources for supply dependent populations (Los Vegas being my prime example) I fully expect that both the authorities and the general public will become much more accommodating regarding the implementation of water-less toilets.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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In geographic locations that ancient cities would likely form, such as were two bodies of water intersect, (i.e. where a navigable river from the interior reaches a sea or large lake) and no resource limitations on the availability of water, good soil, decent growing weather during the summer season or wood, I'd consider half million to be the practical limitation.  Any region that does not have direct access to a navigable waterway would be way less.  We know from history, that smaller towns would form around such ancient cities, spreading out away from the main city about every 10 miles along any reasonable path, because the distance that a person could reasonably walk to a marketplace and return in the same day is about 5 miles each direction.  The size of those towns were typically limited to the number of people that could either walk to nearby fields to work, or performed some kind of necessary trade skill that the farms within 5 miles would regularly require.  The legacy of such an effect is all over the Eastern seaboard of the United States, although most of the actual impact has been covered over by suburbia and urban sprawl.  Cities can only support their citizens with the ability to trade at distance, over water typically, and form because such long distance trade is how fortunes were once made.



Hi Creighton,

Thanks. I would assume that as cities shrink back to their maximum sustainable sizes, that the mid density and secondary core areas would do best, as opposed to the low density suburbs and the high density cores. Wouldn't it make sense that people would preferentially relocate to walkable neighborhoods with buildings that were more easily heatable, cool-able, and accessible then those in the downtown high-rise cores? Am I missing something here?

In short, I'd imagine building size and density would mimic traditional cities around the globe.
 
Creighton Samuels
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Gilbert Fritz wrote:

Hi Creighton,

Thanks. I would assume that as cities shrink back to their maximum sustainable sizes, that the mid density and secondary core areas would do best, as opposed to the low density suburbs and the high density cores. Wouldn't it make sense that people would preferentially relocate to walkable neighborhoods with buildings that were more easily heatable, cool-able, and accessible then those in the downtown high-rise cores? Am I missing something here?

In short, I'd imagine building size and density would mimic traditional cities around the globe.



I don't think you are missing anything, really.  However, it's pretty true that towers are pretty easy to heat.
 
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