What is localization?
If globalization is the root of so many problems, localization — a shift away from the global and towards the local — is an obvious part of the solution. Localization does not mean encouraging every community to be entirely self-reliant; it simply means shortening the distance between producers and consumers wherever possible, and striking a healthier balance between trade and local production. Localization does not mean that everyone must go 'back to the land', but that the forces now causing rapid urbanization should cease. Localization does not mean that people in cold climates should be denied oranges or avocados, but that their wheat, rice or milk — in short, their basic food needs — should not travel thousands of miles when they could all be produced within a fifty mile radius. Rather than ending all trade, steps towards localization would aim at reducing unnecessary transport while encouraging changes to strengthen and diversify economies at the community as well as national level. The degree of diversification, the goods produced, and the amount of trade would naturally vary from region to region.
The multiple benefits of localizationReversing our headlong rush towards globalization would have benefits on a number of levels. Rural economies in both North and South would be revitalized, helping to stem the unhealthy tide of urbanization. Farmers would be growing for local and regional rather than global markets, allowing them to choose varieties in tune with local conditions and local tastes, thus allowing agricultural diversity to rebound. Production processes would be far smaller in scale, and therefore less stressful to the environment. Unnecessary transport would be minimized, and so the greenhouse gas and pollution toll would decrease, as would the ecological costs of energy extraction. People would no longer be forced to conform to the impossible ideals of a global consumer monoculture, thereby lessening the psychological pressures that often lead to ethnic conflict and violence. Ending the manic pursuit of trade would reduce the economic and hence political power of transnational corporations (TNCs), and eliminate the need to hand power to such supranational institutions as the World Trade Organization (WTO), thereby helping to reverse the erosion of democracy.
To find out more about localization, please see the following online articles: The Economics of Happiness, Going Local, Peak Oil and Localization
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