Many of us sense that globalization is an error and try to object to it on vague moral or ethical principles, or perhaps we are concerned about the havoc globalization has had on our local economies and job markets.
Prior to the 'discovery' of cheap liquid energy, oceans and distance were seen as unsurmountable obstacles. Only luxury items like spices and beaver pelts could be economically shipped between continents. Food was produced within a few hundred kilometers of where it was consumed because it could not be shipped long distances without spoiling. The thought of shipping raw materials thousands of kilometers to be manufactured into something and then shipped back would have been considered ludicrous.
The fact is, globalization has been very good for us and people in third world countries because it allows everyone to produce what they are most efficient at producing and trading those goods and services for other things they need. Under globalization, the whole world ends up producing more goods than we could if everyone had to maintain a diverse economy. This improves our quality of life as we can consume more while expending fewer resources and energy.
One of the effects of globalization has been the rising affluence of people in China and India, who together account for 44% of the world's population. More people in asian countries are now purchasing their first automobiles, which leads to increased demand for gasoline and higher oil prices.
Although there are very good economic reasons for globalized trade, it is unlikely that a system of globalized and centralized production will continue due to the increasing costs of transporting things long distances.
Moving raw materials and manufactured goods across oceans requires large amounts of energy, and this energy can only be provided by non-renewable energy sources. With the costs of fuel rising due to peak oil, the transportation costs of overseas manufacturing for our North American market place will likely cause a shift in the types of goods that can be profitably manufactured in other countries for our own consumption here at home.
The type of oil burned in these large container ships is a minimally refined and cheap form of fuel called 'bunker fuel' that releases a lot of pollution and CO2 into the atmosphere. The international shipping industry is therefore a major contributor to GhG emissions and other pollutants and under current proposals to create a market for pollution rights, goods shipped across oceans would incur a lot of these costs.
A world based on highly centralized and globalized production is much more susceptible to economic shocks than one where production is distributed regionally. A problem affecting production in a given region won't spread across the entire world economy like we see now, it would be more contained to one particular region and easier to resolve through traditional methods.
Transition Town North Bay sees the end of globalized trade and the re-localization of economies as an inevitable result of high oil prices and efforts to end the externalization of pollution costs. Unfortunately, many of the local industries that used to exist in our region to produce goods for our own consumption have had to close their doors because they couldn't compete with the inexpensive labour of foreign countries. As a result of the decreasing profitability of globalized trade, however, many of these industries may decide that they are better off relocating closer to where the goods will be consumed.
It makes no difference whether GhG's are emitted here or in China because these gases quickly disperse around the globe. By keeping some factories close to home, we can reduce overall GhG emissions by reducing the distance goods have to travel to our own market. We need to be prepared to welcome industries wanting to set up shop in Northern Ontario if we are to end our dependence on fossil fuels.