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September 22, 2006

Fat, cities, and homeland insecurity

As I mentioned a while back, two geographers, Simon Marvin and Will Medd, have published a quease-inducing paper about fat in cities. In Metabolisms of Obecity: Fat across bodies, cities and sewers they write that the number of sewer blockages and overflows across cities in the United States is growing as restaurants and fast food chains pour cooking residue into drains. Local governments lack the resources to monitor grease disposal or to enforce the relevant regulations. Yuk.

I was intrigued to see that Marvin and Medd have invented something called Urban Vulnerability Studies to package - and presumably get funding for - this new line of work. This is clever: geography must sound boring to a homeland security (or whatever it's called in the UK) budget holder. But "urban vulnerability"? Ooh, that sounds serious. Better spend a ton of money on it.

Fat-clogged sewers are not the only threat facing modern cities. Hunger is another one. The British government appears to believe that growing food is an old-fashioned activity that is inconsistent with a shiny knowledge-based economy. Every where I go these days, local policymakers tell me with pride about some digital enterprise that has set up shop in the middle of a nearby field - often with a generous grant to help them do so. As a result, food security in the country as a whole is non-existent. Sixty million people will have a nasty surprise when systemic collapses in logistics systems, which are bound to happen, cut them off from anything to eat.

You can't eat game engines.

Doors 9, with its focus on energy and food, is crucial to the national and urban security of many places. We still need funding to the tune of .000001% of America's Homeland Security budget to pay for scholarships so that project leaders may come to New Delhi from different parts of India and elsewhere in South Asia. If you are able to fund a scholarship or two, please contact: john@doorsofperception.com

Posted by John Thackara at September 22, 2006 07:47 AM

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