More on the Absurdity of "Localization"

by Don Boudreaux on November 24, 2007

in Food and Drink, Myths and Fallacies, Standard of Living

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
      outright starvation.

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.

Update: More on food miles here at Reason


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