I'm posting the following question from Stuart Rose that was posed to the TRANSP-TDM listserv today and has generated some additional discussion about whether or when the global peak in oil will be reached.
"I'm currently completing development of a prototype cluster of sustainable houses. The houses provide their own power, water, hot water, etc. It's not that difficult. However, since this effort began, about five years ago, the definition of what "sustainable" includes has expanded. The next generation of these houses will need to take the form of small communities that are totally self-reliant ... for power, water, wastewater treatment, solid waste management ... and even food.
My guess is, we hit Global Peak Oil in 2000, when Saudi peaked. We're already experiencing all the early signs of what will be a post-oil economy ... and world. Within 3-5 years, semis will likely be virtually gone from highways. Transportation will need to shift, to respond to development of many small communities - much like the pre-industrial revolution hamlets, except with most of modern technology.
The best way, on the surface, to connect smaller communities with a larger one would be rapid transit. Then, hi-speed rail between major cities. And probably only air for trips over 1,000 miles or so. But I'm not a multimodal transportation planner.
1. What criteria determine when different modes are justified? Population numbers? Density? Distance?
2. How would these modes be funded? Government seems fairly inept at managing a rail system; ours is one of the worst in the world. How to determine what role is best for private companies and what for government?
3. As these small communities evolve, they could connect via electric car or bus to small towns, of perhaps 8,000 to 80,000 or more. Would counties simply somehow maintain small roads for that connectivity?
4. Do you know of one or two resource people who might be able to describe how such a pattern would - or would not - be justified? initiated? funded? managed?
In planning for these small sustainable communities, I also have to think about their context - connectedness to other communities.
Thanks for whatever help you might be able to provide."
Stuart W. Rose, Ph.D.