Thursday, September 11, 2008

Decision Making Part Three

I’m going to do an example of the kind of decision-making list is useful in this installment. This is going to be a list of the advantages and disadvantages of living in various parts of the country. I am going to focus on the southeast because I know it best but I will start with a brief list of the other areas in the country.

Southwest: There are no real advantages here and lots of disadvantages. I can’t emphasize this strongly enough: if you live in the southwest, please move.

Advantages: abundant water, some good farmland, mild climate
Disadvantages: will probably take in a lot of people from the southwest, climate change will raise the coastline, proximity to the coast may be a problem later in this century if people do start fleeing Japan and Asia en masse. (Btw, one side note: about Kunstler’s famous pirate line, there are more pirates in the world now than ever before and that will only increase on the downside of Hubbert’s peak, but they will be around every coast and quite a few navigable lakes and rivers.

Upper and Eastern Midwest
This is Ohio, Wisconsin, and the like
Advantages: Not overly populated, lots of good farmland, large numbers of farmers who know how to farm non-industrially, lots of water.
Disadvantages: the rust belt, several collapsed or collapsing cities, pollution from the industrial age in many lakes and rivers, severe cold in the winter.

Most of the Midwest
Kansas, Nebraska and the like
Advantages: low population, lots of space
Disadvantages: Currently industrial farmland, naturally arid land, future of rainfall is severely in doubt. A century from now most people who live on the plains will probably live like the Indians of old. In other words, hunter gatherers and nomadic peoples, not farmers. It will be exceedingly hard to farm a natural desert without input from the Ogllala aquifer (which is running dry).

Advantages: lots of good farmland that still is not paved over, lots of navigable waterways, large Amish population, good network of small towns still there.
Disadvantages: harsh winter weather, the entire northeast metropolis corridor (who is going to feed all those people?), the cost of living there right now is pretty high.

The Southeast
This list is going to be personalized. I am considering relocating, and this is one of the things I am looking at.
Advantages: lots of space, lots of arable land, the cost of living is extremely low compared to most of the country. If you own a piece of property outright you can live for almost nothing. There are lots of navigable waterways, lots of wilderness. It’s a very beautiful area. Property taxes are negligible on most places. It does get cold in the winter but not all that cold and not for very long so heating bills are really low. I have lived in various parts of the South my entire life and in a lot of ways I love this area. I have friends here.

Heat –and lots of it. I live in the northern part of Alabama, and the highs pretty much stay above ninety the entire summer, and with high humidity to boot.
Climate change projections –the projections disagree on whether the south will get wetter or drier and the reality will probably be different for each region, but it will get hotter. Subtropical and probably tropical heat eventually.
Agriculture –most agriculture is industrial but we do have a good population of Amish and Mennonites. The problem lies in that it will be increasingly hard to grow many of the staple crops here as the century wears on and climate changes starts to kick in.
Water –wetter or drier is up in the air, but pumping water and wells are a big challenge. We’ve had a multi-year drought and most wells are dry right now. Without electric pumping there would hardly be any water to go around.
Size –you could fit a lot of the northeastern states into Alabama alone. It’s that big. This means everything is spread out. Vastly so. I have friends who live a forty-five minute drive away and are not only in the same county, but the same town. This is not uncommon.
Bugs –and lots of them. Maybe you don’t see this as a disadvantage but consider what pests do to crops. Last year I had an invasion of some sort of caterpillar that ate half the leaves on my redbud tree literally overnight. It’s a small tree, but still. This year its spiders. Lots and lots of spiders of all kinds. They are everywhere. You have no idea how much I hate spiders. Plus, there are the usual bugs: fire ants, black ants, aphids, mosquitos. And with bugs come…
Diseases –mosquito-borne illnesses will become more common as the climate heats up and controls die off. Tropical illnesses are projected to make a comeback in this are within ten years. We’re talking malaria at the very least. That was a major problem here up until about 1950 or so and it will come back, particularly in Louisiana, coastal Virginia and other such areas. Other diseases will creep in too –dengue fever, yellow fever, etc. West Nile is all ready here. The Deep South will become depopulated if for no other reason than disease. If it becomes a desert that will only make matters worse.
Government –ok, I hate to put this one in here but I have to. The same government that makes property taxes low also will not put money into schools, roads etc. We have an almost feudal system here in Alabama and there are no apologies for it. Food is taxed; poor people pay 11% of their incomes while the rich pay 4%. Income taxes started at $4,000 for a family of four until last year; that has now been raised to $12,000. We have no way of directly petitioning the legislature save by voting on its members. Control is so centralized that when Mobile wanted to spray for mosquitoes they had to get a constitutional amendment to do it. No, that’s not a joke.
Culture, or rather certain aspects of culture. There are a lot of good things in Southern culture. There are also a lot of bad things. Hyper-patriotism. Sexism. Racism. Extreme homophobia. Religions that run toward the anti-tolerant, bible-thumping, we are right and you are going to hell lot. There are literally dozens of such churches in the county I live in with over 5,000 members and hundreds of smaller ones. Now, I have no problem with them believing what they want –my first rule of life is live and let live. I do have a significant problem with them trying to make me conform to their rules, however. I am a lesbian and a pagan and such am a serious target. (I am also multi-racial, but that is not obvious as I am white enough to pass.) If I had kids here I would have to worry about them be taken away for the sole reason that I am a lesbian. I constantly have to worry about hate crimes. This is only going to get worse as times worsen.

There you have it. That is the list. If you have read this far, it is probably easy to see why I am considering relocating. To make such a list work properly you need to scale each item and value it, and then add up the values to see what wins. To tell the truth, the main reason I am considering relocating are climate change and the cultural issues. I truly do love the south land. The Smokies, the forests, the mountains, these are all things I love. I am a pagan, after all. ;-) But there are other factors to consider. Where I could have a good life and have kids, for one. Most importantly, where I will have the best chance of surviving the coming crises.

I am not sure Dixie is it.


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