Urban Fold

Gathering Firewood in the Suburbs?

As home energy costs continue to increase, scavenging for wood in metropolitan areas may become a common sight.

"When complex means of appropriating energy become prohibitively expensive or impractical, [people] return to simpler means. Soon the complex methods become prestigious and exotic. We are now just beginning to leave the period in which it’s common practice for even the working class to throw a switch and enjoy heating and electricity from a power plant tens of miles away, mitigated by thousands of yards of well-maintained transmission cable, driven by the burning of cheap natural gas piped from Uzbekistan to the coast, liquefied at super-low temperatures, shipped in amazingly expensive LNG tankers, received in even more expensive (and well-guarded) LNG ports, and distributed through a vast domestic pipeline network to be burned as gas at the plant. When the society can’t manage all that, people leave the house and start looking for wood. And as Mike Kane has found, they’re already out there."

[Editor's note: requires membership for full access.]

Full Story: Wood Scavenging in the Suburbs

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