Friday, May 29, 2009

Is globalization good or bad?

Probably more bad than good -- mostly because of our inability to control such a complex undertaking.

One of the key consequences of globalization is the easier movement, and subsequent concentration, of resources to wherever in the world they can be most efficiently used.  In the immediate term, this may seem like a good idea as it maximizes the use of the our planet's limited resources (i.e., we get more stuff from what we put in).  

The problem is that this approach tends to obliterate anything and anybody that is not best-in-class at what they do......and it tends to create massive operations wherever the best-in-class operation is.   With this, we get massive moves of raw materials and finished goods back and forth across the world to and from these centers.....often, destroying the environment at both ends.   So, we get massive scale farms in industrialized areas that end up shutting down small farmers everywhere else.  The same with factories.  

In such an interconnected world, the risks are also higher when one or several of the components in this global machine fail.  What happens with those places that ceased to grow or produce certain things because somebody else was doing them cheaper?  And now the goods are not coming?

The "Slow Food" movement that started in Europe in 1989 is a good example of a movement to get back to independent, more local, self-sustaining economies that are more resilient to global crises.....and easier on the planet. 

Let's get more connected to our commuities and to the people around us.....and let's understand where things come from.  Do we really need those cookies from Finland, in a metal canister made in India with steel from Botswana or should we just bake some?

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