Warren Meyer over at Coyote Blog adds positively to the debate over "localization." Here’s the bulk:
[Localization] is absolutely absurd, for any number of reasons. I’ll just list three:
- It doesn’t work. The total energy used for transport, say of
food products, is a small percentage of the total energy used in the
total production process. The energy transportation budget is
generally smaller than efficiency gains from scale or from optimizing
location. For example, a wheat farm in Arizona on 50 acres is going to
use a lot more energy (and water, and fertilizer, and manpower) than a
wheat farm on a thousand acres in North Dakota.
- It leads to poverty. Our modern society, our lifestyles, our
lifespans all are a result of the fantastic increases in efficiency we
have reaped from the division of labor. A push to localize all
production reverses the division of labor. Many products, such as
semiconductors, become outright impossible on a local scale.
- It leads to starvation. It is hard for us to imagine famine in the
wealthy nations of the world. Crop failures in one part of the world
are replaced with crops from other parts of the world. But as recently
as the 19th century, France, then the wealthiest nation on earth but
reliant on local agriculture, experienced frequent crop failures and
More on the food-miles stupidity here. And an interesting study that shows that processed foods greatly reduces waste and trash to landfills was here.