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According to Krumdieck’s theory, master garden- ers should be employed to make use of freed up land in between houses to grow fruit and vegeta- bles. Susan Krumdieck (below, inset)

She asks: “Why should the rich people have a bigger share and waste with impunity?” She argues that privatising public utilities has been proven not to work and believes that nationalisation is likely. This sounds a bit, well, socialist, but Krumdieck just smiles. “If it’s a public good and you want more, you go to the market,” she says.

“You have the NHS and a private health-

care system working together – that’s an example of a tiered system.”

A proponent of Peak Oil long before it was fashionable and no stranger to controversy, she argues that while a science fiction tomor- row isn’t around the corner, believing in such fantasies is keeping us doing what we normal- ly do, which is consume. “It’s obfuscation,” says Krumdieck. “You’ve got a magician who keeps you looking over here so he can do something fiddly over there.”

Krumdieck argues that our current econ-

omy is based on the consumption of energy: we create goods made from and consum- ing increasing amounts of energy. Consumer goods have short lifespans so we can throw them away and buy the latest new model. But with oil reserves at their peak, this can’t continue.

least the people who don’t live there think it’s a good idea, it’s a good start”. So it seems Nimbyism is rife everywhere – even in New Zealand – which is perhaps why solutions need to come from the grass roots up. But Krumdieck says there are many signs that this is already happening. In the cit- ies, local markets and organic grocery box schemes have been exploding, and the foodie trend has been for some time now provenance. “People don’t just want to rock up and buy. They want to know who the person is selling

it, where it’s come from, where the farm is and how it’s been grown and know that the farmer is going to make a living from selling it.” But how do you persuade people to stop consuming? Krumdieck argues that the only way to do this is to close the gap between the rich and poor. She says, “It’s this huge gap that keeps people scrambling up the hill.” Krumdieck proposes an “allocation model” where everyone gets a share of what the public invests in, which would include things like water, sanitisation, electricity, and transport.

We need to use less, not more, which is a particular challenge for our modern cities. “Using less isn’t the end of the world,” argues Krumdieck. “It’s corporate folk who don’t see it in their best interest right now but there are signs that change isn’t going to come from that direction – it will come from people doing their own thing and relocalisation.” Krumdieck is pretty cynical about multi- national business’ attempts at going green. “These companies have realised the best way of doing it [heading off environmental con- cerns] is subterfuge,” says Krumdieck. “In the Sixties and Seventies they fought environmen- tal legislation – now they embrace it. If I look at the budget Mercedes Benz is putting into hydrogen fuel cell concept vehicles, it isn’t even equal to what they spend on marketing.” While Krumdieck argues for the end of consumerism she is confident that we can survive with less than what we have now so, despite the lack of solar panels, it could be a very bright future.

Sustainable Business | Sustainable Cities | February 2011 | 7

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