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Separation of Uses


WHEREAS, the distribution of residents in New York State has led to excessive consumption of natural resources; and

WHEREAS, the distribution of residents in New York State has also prevented the exploitation of natural resources; and

WHEREAS, land presently used by those misplaced residents would be better suited for agricultural, forestry, or mining purposes;

the STATE OF NEW YORK hereby authorizes condemnation proceedings against all primarily residential properties not within the limits of an incorporated city or village with a density of five units per acre or higher;

the STATE OF NEW YORK hereby authorizes condemnation proceedings against all commercial properties not sited on a state highway, as well as those commercial properties on a state highway whose business is other than serving agriculture, forestry, mining, or transportation;

the STATE OF NEW YORK hereby orders the clearing of buildings from the condemned properties;

the STATE OF NEW YORK grants itself the right to choose from those areas for conservation or management as state land, and orders the sale of remaining properties at auction for agriculture, forestry, or mining purposes.

Accident in Cortlandville


Cortlandville, June 4, 2051 - The first two-vehicle accident in five years took place on Route 13 yesterday near the Community Mall, former home of Walmart and Price Chopper, when a delivery van from the Food Cooperative broadsided a van from TrueValue Hardware. Dispatched to the scene, Mounted Police Officer Ray Cruz remarked, "Once the PPO [Post-Peak-Oil] Regs came out, the state reduced biweekly trips for individuals to bimonthly. All we see on the roads now are local delivery vans, horses like Trigger here, and transporters taking commuters to the mag-rail depots. So yes, accidents like this used to be pretty common, but we don't see them much anymore."

The TrueValue driver was taken by wagon to Cortland Health Cooperative. Harlan Becker, the Food Cooperative driver, was unhurt, although his van was damaged. "A lot of families are counting on me," he told this reporter. "I'll have to switch to the wagon to get these deliveries made." He warned that local families on a Tuesday delivery schedule might need to make do until Wednesday, and so on until the van was repaired.

The Dairy Enclave

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[Written by Rebecca Lee Smith]

"Everybody got their gear? Flashlights? Boots? Rope? Gloves? Charges?"

Used to be a group would break into the enclave without hip-waders, Tyvek, or latex. Showing up at the hospital with a raging crypto or Salmonella infection was a dead giveaway, especially after a 'break' was announced, so they had to treat it themselves. Since they couldn't access the superdrugs without even more questions, they started losing people to the XDR strains. Procedure was changed, then, even if it took most of a day to paint those suits black.

The politicians thought the pipeline was the most sensible way to deal with transport from the enclave. After all, running electric through cables the length of Cayuga County had seemed wasteful, and required the plant staff to live in no-man's land. Therefore, it was only expeditious to build a manure pipeline, several, really, from the centralized barns to the methane digesters on the northern and southern edges of the dairy enclave that had been Cayuga County. That's where the population was, of course, not counting the immigrant dorms in the center. And power was necessary -- NiMo lost their primary source when the level of Lake Erie dropped below the Falls, after the Midwest Corn Irrigation Plan.

After all, they said, one good pipe deserves another.

What hadn't been considered was the possibility of a pipeline as an ideal terrorist target. (People forget their history so quickly....) There were plenty of dispossessed former residents, angry at the use of eminent domain for private business, willing to take part in commando raids like tonight.

The target: a conflagrance of pipes that was, for a change, not within the lake's watershed.

Remembering 2012


[by Steve Balogh.]

I just renewed our lease on our apartment for another year, at a 15% increase. Demand for quality rental property, inflation, and my unwillingness to start a relationship with a new (and possibly shady) landlord made the decision to re-sign easier. I am hoping that my efforts to help our landlord renovate the home and bring up its energy efficiency will pay off in defrayed costs. Jim and I replaced the dinosaur of a boiler in the basement last fall, after I talked him into a pellet/biomass boiler with the capability to burn wood pellets, corn, or recycled paper. Jim had to move back in to his rental property after he could no longer hold on to his mortgage on his primary residence. Given the property tax increases we've faced to keep the schools running, I'm not sure that my monthly rent will help defer even half of his current payments on the 2 family house - so, again, I don't begrudge him the bump in the rent. Another 15% next year, and we'll be considering "consolidated housing" ourselves. Many of our friends and family have had to do the same, moving in together, or back in with family to help keep a roof over their heads.

It's amazing how quickly public perception can change. After the "consolidated housing" meme hit the cover of Time and Newsweek eight months ago, the stigma was lifted, and what was a terrible housing market became even worse as a flood of young professionals, families, and struggling friends gave up their homes and moved in together. Aging baby-boomers welcomed their families back in with open arms, as their meager retirement savings are now a shell of their former selves. (A good number of privileged people are also a "shell of their former selves" as well, as dreams of 5 day a week golf and winters in Florida have faded...)

Our winter preps are nearly complete, many of the changes pragmatic rather than aesthetic. Windows with no appreciable solar gain have been taped off, packed with old newspapers and draped with heavy blankets. We keep at least one window in each room uncovered for natural light, but keep furniture and beds against inside walls to fend off the cold. We could afford to heat the home to 68 degrees all winter, but we decided as a household that daytime heating would be keep at 65 degrees and nighttime temps allowed to drop to 62. The little things like sealing out all drafts, additional insulation on the windows, and our project this winter to seal around all pipes and insulate electrical outlets will allow our house to hold onto that heat longer and reduce the heating portion of our budget. We also fill large bladders of hot water at night and keep them below (and sometimes in) our beds to stay toasty at night.



ITHACA, NY - Cornell University celebrated the retirement of its president, Dr. Waclaw Czerwinski, whose 2013 accident at the University's Synchrotron led directly to the low-cost fusion power the world enjoys today.

"Luck was with me that day," reiterated Czerwinski. "My mistakes in setting up the experiment produced a small but strange amount of unexpected energy. and it only took five years to move from that error to a surprisingly practical source of energy."

Czerwinski, who grew up in Buffalo's East Side, seized the opportunity to help his hometown and the surrounding area. He described his childhood in his farewell address:

"When I was a child, I was very angry to see what seemed like everything leaving Buffalo, both people and businesses. I almost went into politics, but my parents kept pushing me toward the sciences. As it turned out, I've been able to do much more as a scientist than as a politician."

Czerwinski's successes, both in his initial (and repeatable) discovery and later in his rapid drive toward commercial implementation, led him quickly to a platform where he could control the way his ideas were used: the Presidency of Cornell.

"The Trustees were pleased to invite me, much to my surprise, and I'm not sure they quite understood why I was interested in the job. I'd been lucky enough to be doing that work on university funds, so the university had clear control of the patents. I wanted to ensure that those patents helped the area I care about, in addition to easing the world's energy problems."

Czerwinski's vision extended beyond Buffalo to include much of central and western New York. The primary assembly point for the fusion reactors is an enormous facility in Buffalo, but ceramic components are made in Corning and Rochester, and electronics in Jamestown, Syracuse, and Binghamton, with fuel processing in Oswego. Cornell itself, in Ithaca, remains the main center for research on the practical side of the field. Other universities have established centers, but focus mostly on the theoretical side.

"These reactors produce so much energy so cheaply," said Czerwinski, "that we could have set nearly any price for them. That would, however, have invited price-based competition. Instead, we set prices at a level that comfortably covers manufacturing costs, including a fine living for all of our workers with money left over to help Cornell reach more students. We know how to make these reactors reliably and safely, and they are so incredibly cheap relative to other forms of energy production that we can help this area tremendously while easing the burden of the world as well. That may not last forever, but hopefully our current lead will last another thirty years."

In his conclusion, Czerwinski thanked university founder Ezra Cornell for his confidence that "Cornell University could produce practical results, helping its students, its community, its state, and the world. His founding of 'an institution where any person can find instruction in any study' has brought us to a wonderful new world where we can help more people find more studies."

Canal days

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15 miles a day it is again. My mule's not named Sal, but somebody's mule probably is. I'm very happy to have a job, any job, and this job comes with some benefits, like full exposure to a wide variety of weather conditions, plus a long unpaid vacation in winter when I'd really like some heat.


It's not that bad, though. The Barge Canal stays busy the whole time it's navigable, filled with grain to keep New York City and the coast alive. There's some other stuff on there too, mostly things that don't need to go anywhere fast. If something needs to move fast, it rides the rails, right? Every once in a while I take a detour down the Seneca-Cayuga Canal to send things that way or pick things up, and the change of scenery's a good thing.

I know every bar in every canal town along the way, though the cities are huge and I can't be expected to know everything there, can I? If it's within a mile of the canal, though, I probably do. Unless maybe it's a boring bar, too dull for a canal man.

Yeah, I grew up in Lockport. Never thought this was my future.

Time to get back to work. Thanks for the drink!

Nuclear New York


After the federal government let NYRI make a fortune punching a new powerline through from Upstate to Downstate, other companies looked over Upstate's relative proximity to New York City and did the same, giving the growing metropolitan area much more direct access to power. Con Ed celebrated by getting rid of its waterfront diesel emergency generators and closing the incinerators, celebrating the availability of new power supplies. There was also talk of finally decommissioning the Indian Point nuclear power plant.

The temporary drop in energy prices thanks to the new power lines encouraged the creation of some 'bubbles' - multi-block indoor malls - were developed in Lower and Midtown Manhattan, creating huge 24 hour zones freed of weather and traffic, daytime and nighttime, though residents on the upper floors could still see the outside world. The bubbles were financially successful, but a major new consumer of power.

There were also problems on the demand side. Even at the start of the new connection, Hydro Quebec and the New York Power Authority couldn't grow their hydropower to fill the metropolitan area's growing power demands. Over several decades, the declining quality and quantity of coal available made old coal-fired power plants less attractive and more expensive to run. The price of natural gas spiked up 500% around 2015 as several large fields depleted quickly, making it an especially expensive source for electricity. Rapidly developing wind power helped, but the continuing growth of energy demand Downstate drove prices higher and higher.

In 2025, the state attempted to balance the environmental issues of coal with the economic issues of high energy prices. To meet Downstate energy needs, promote safety, and lower the cost of energy Upstate, the State of New York authorized the construction of 15 nuclear power plants, to be built between 2030 and 2050.

All of New York State's existing nuclear plants would be decommissioned, and the new plants would be built in relatively low-density places. Upstate New York's continuing population decline made it the home for all fifteen plants, with two on Lake Erie, eight on Ontario, and one each on Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca, Cayuga, and Oneida lakes. Hazardous waste would be stored and reprocessed at several under-used facilities: West Valley, the former Seneca Army Depot, and the former Griffiss Air Force Base.

The plants were built by a consortium of investors, with all of the engineering and turbine construction performed, as required by the state authorization, by General Electric in Schenectady. All workers on the plants had to have lived in New York State for the previous five years, a provision that had garnered additional support for the plan. The temporary boost from the jobs created in building the plant had a mild effect on the Upstate economy, though Schenectady in particular revived substantially.

Protests against the plan were muted by the pain of $1.50/kilowatt-hour (kWh) energy in an area with an aging population, though the plants in the Finger Lakes especially were slowed by efforts to halt or block construction.

In March 2050, the last of the plants, Milliken Station II on Cayuga Lake, opened for business. Electrical rates had fallen back to 89¢ per kWh over the previous ten years as new plants came on line. Despite numerous construction quality scandals and general concerns about the level of regulation the plants received, there has not been a serious accident at any of the plants yet.

"Like putting soil in your gas tank"


Upstate New York? Sure, I lived there. I lived lots of places, driving that combine and then trying every other way we knew to get corn out of the ground.

Ethanol sure was tasty - I don't mean the corn whiskey, though that was fun after a long week, but the appetite everyone seemed to have for energy. My dad had planted just corn his last few years, occasionally doing some soybeans for biodiesel, but the price of corn just kept climbing once folks realized that gasoline wasn't going to be forever.

Early on, every time the price of gas went up, we knew we were in for a bonus. They said ethanol was just a tiny energy increase over the gas we had to put in the machines, and in the fertilizer and pesticides, but once they got it up to 20%, things were good. When they got it up to 120% with that cellulosic stuff, things got even better.


You know what the problem was, though - our cornfields started drying up like the oilfields did. I had a reputation for keeping the fields going, so that kept me in demand for a lot of years. Mix the right set of fertilizers, figure out which chemicals to spray on which bugs that were going to cause the worst problems where, and figure out which other plants might mix well in the fields and machines once we went to cellulosic. Rotate crops once in a while, when you had to.

I could have kept it going too, but the more we made, the more they wanted. Sure, the government was happy to talk about how energy use was declining, thanks to improved efficiency, but the basic problem seemed to me that when you don't have energy, you just can't burn it.

I'd never really gone east until 2035, when the Feds created those "energy sacrifice zones", where we'd be able to rearrange the countryside however we needed to get the most energy out of that soil. The government paid people off and they left, or were supposed to leave. The National Guard proved awfully helpful a few times.

Where was it you were asking about? Upstate New York? Yeah, that got us a few years worth of gas. At least they had water. The northwest was okay, but too much of it was hills. Sure, we tried the hills, but that got us a lot of mudholes and not enough corn. It seems that the people who'd farmed that way back when hadn't done a great job of taking care of the soil, and even a century of forest didn't fix it. So there wasn't a whole lot there.

What's that? Oh, yes - there's less there now. When we couldn't get decent yields out of the soil, the government sold it cheap. I don't know what those people are going to do with it - there's nothing much there. Starve, I guess.

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