Ormurinn wrote:I'm no expert in transportation - I was going off common sense (To me, it seems that the last mile of transportation is the easiest to change from oil, thats walking distance!) and what cleverer people than me have written in Mutualist texts. I can dig up some sources if you like - but you've obviously got more expertise in this area, and I can't disagree with the majority of your conclusions here.
As Dauric already highlighted for me, the last mile is not a literal mile. It's the distance that needs to be traveled from a centralized hub to get to the individual -- it's the UPS/FedEx truck bringing goods to you from their distribution center. In a city, that distance is marginal; in a rural environment, that distance could easily cost as much as all the other steps in the transportation chain combined.
Ormurinn wrote:Again - I'm no expert. However, there are hundreds more links in the transport chain to a city, and less leeway if one of them goes, due to the higher population density. If theres a fuel price shock, or power lines for your electric trains go down for too long, or if rural communities hold out on selling produce to get a better deal etc. The city supply lines seem more exposed to shocks to the system.
There's a lot more redundancy for a city's supply though, which is what you're missing. Farming problems happen all the time, they just don't become famines because (1) we have a lot of technology to mitigate them, technology which would not be available on an individual level, and (2) when we can't mitigate them, we just source our food from somewhere else. Farming areas are going to grow surpluses -- if the farmland supporting megacity A has a problem, then they just import the surplus from megacity B, C, D, E and F's farmland. Next year it might be megacity D in trouble, or maybe nobody. If rural communities "held out" to get a better deal, they would very quickly encounter the state or federal government exercising its powers of eminent domain.
A properly organized city can deal with something bad happening to one of it's major logistical nodes, because that node will not be the only node handling things. This is not true for rural communities: if your farm goes tits up this year due to a regional issue, you will need to import your food; you can't just walk to the next farmer -- they're having a drought too! That's going to be a lot less economical than it would be for a city. Your shorter route involves a complete lack of distribution of sources and redundancy; a city is going to able to source its food from anywhere, it's going to be built around redundancy.
Ormurinn wrote:I think you underestimate farmers - they've been dealing with drought and disease since before recorded history. Growing a variety of crops, and succession sowing makes farms much less vulnerable. Its the agressive monoculture caused by factory farming that renders agricultural land more vulnerable, and increases the spend on pesticides.
Farmers have dealt with this issues and died is what I believe you meant to say. Famine and death from such are a huge part of history and subsistence farming. Just look at some quotes from the article PeteP linked to:
Famine in the Medieval European context meant that people died of starvation on a massive scale. As brutal as they were, famines were familiar occurrences in Medieval Europe. As an example, localized famines occurred in France during the fourteenth century in 1304, 1305, 1310, 1315–1317 (the Great Famine), 1330–1334, 1349–1351, 1358–1360, 1371, 1374–1375 and 1390. In England, years of famine included 1315–1317, 1321, 1351, and 1369. For most people there was often not enough to eat and life expectancy was relatively short since many children died. According to records of the royal family of the Kingdom of England, among the best cared for in society, the average life expectancy in 1276 was 35.28 years. Between 1301 and 1325 during the Great Famine it was 29.84,
That's a lot of famines. There's also the Bengal Famine of 1770, where one third of the entire population died. Or hell, just look at the huge list of famines. If you look at the list, you'll note that Western, post-industrial revolution (aka post subsistence farming) countries that famines are almost completely non-existent. When they do occur, they're the aftermath or result of war, revolutions, or other massive social upheavals. The last famine listed for England-proper was in the early 18th century.
Farmers have been spending history getting their asses kicked by nature.
Dauric wrote:Rural roads aren't paved. They're dirt roads re-graded*... bi-monthly .. more or less depending on the county roads budget to deal with "Washboarding" erosion and potholes and such.
I don't recall the last time our dirt road got re-graded. I think it's years between them for where I live.