Thursday, June 28, 2012
City life and safety
Paracynic made some very good comments about people being safer in the city. (Exits and Safety Tips) He’s right that if you have a heart attack in a major city, paramedics will be treating you in minutes and you are five minutes away from a quality hospital. Out here in the country we do things differently -we die.
My point wasn’t so much the merits of city vs country life. The focus was on how do you get out of such a place. People should think about it. Maybe you’ve got a private helicopter or a fast boat in the harbor. Maybe you keep a sharp weather out for trouble and lead the exodus rather than being caught up in traffic. Perhaps you plan on biking out down railroad tracks. Some people escaped Manhattan on 911 by kayaking off the island.
Around the world, the trend is for people to leave the country and head into cities. That’s where the economic opportunities are. My own ancestors were happy to trade life on a Quebec potato farm for factory work.
There are some real positives to city life. It is possible to live with a much smaller energy footprint. Cars are not needed. Big apartment buildings are more efficient than single houses. Everything you need is in easy walking distance. Political power becomes concentrated in cities. Who wants to be the king of empty space? Because of that power, the countryside will be stripped to keep cities going.
Some look at cities and see a teeming hive of activity. I see a box. It’s important to be able to get out of that box. My favorite solution is to not put myself in that box any more than I have to.
Cities can be nasty traps. The Warsaw Jewish ghettos. Sarajevo during the Balkan wars, New Orleans during the Katrina, Detroit any given day.
There are black swan events that would make cities serious death traps. tsunamis, EMP pluses, nuclear war, hurricanes, or civil unrest. I would not want to be in any desert city if the water supply was ever cut off.
That being said, Paracynic is right. The odds are that on any give day you are safer in the city.
That works as long as the infrastructure of the city is up and running. You can’t exactly live off the land in the city. A city is dependent on a steady stream of goods, food, water and energy to keep going.
Of course, everything isn’t black and white. The world isn’t divided up between New York and East Mooseknuckle. There are smaller cities that are quite livable. Plenty of country places really can’t support their populations, small as they are. I’ve a friend who plans to move to country when he retires, but he has some medical issues. He’s checking out property in the country near a top quality regional hospital. It’s small but well equipped and staffed by some of the best people in their fields. Moving out to the country doesn’t have to mean disappearing into the Bitteroot Mountains.
For me, the city has too many rules and points of control. Many of us country people figure we can just fade away into the bush. I'll take my chances in the country. Sure, I could die from an accident or a heart attack, but living in the city would kill me by inches.