Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Peak Globalization

In my book Garden Earth (2012) I write that there are signs that the pace of globalization is slowing and possibly will reverse. 
The proportion of trade of the GDP is perhaps one of the most straight-forward indicators to look at. 
The WTO reports, that global trade has grown 1.5 times faster than gross domestic product over the long term, and twice as fast when globalization picked up in the 1990s. This year trade will grow only 80 percent as fast as the global economy, the first reversal of globalization since 2001 and only the second since 1982. The WTO sees this as a problem. 

Even if I were a strong supporter in globalization (which I am not) I would find it hard to argue for why trade should take an ever increasing share of the GDP. Where is the limit? Why is it better that trade is half the GDP than 25%?
Other indicators of that we might have reached Peak Globalization are:
  • Fear of global terrorism.
  • Fear of global epidemics (SARS, Zika, Ebola).
  • Brexit.
  • Both main US President candidates oppose the TPP.
  • Popular protests against the TTIP and CETA in Europe.
  • Climate change and awareness that flying is a major culprit for climate change.
  • Financial crisis and how it spread throughout the world.
  • Fear for security and food supplies.
  • Stagnant wages in most early developed countries. 
  • Rise of nationalist parties.
  • Migration crisis (rather the political crisis around migration).
  • Local food movement.
As with globalization itself the reversal of globalization comes with both good and bad things, you have to take the bitter with the sweet.
In Garden Earth I wrote: 

I am not against globalization. I believe that free movement of goods—and of people—are human rights. I believe that, in total, globalization has more benefits than drawbacks, but then I speak about globalization as more than a narrow economic thing. I think of the globalization of human rights, of the Internet, of the fact that dictators all over the world can’t get away so easily any more. I think of globalization as a force undermining the authority of the nation-state and nationalism. So while there are, in general, drawbacks and benefits of globalization, depending on how the rules are bent globalization can be good for one and bad for another. Globalization at present has been driven or, rather, hijacked as a capitalist project, opening up all aspects of human life to exploitation. As such, it deserves the protests.
I am less positive today in the sense that the benefits of globalization seems smaller and the drawbacks bigger.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Global Eating Disorder

Global Eating Disorder
Industrial food and farming has been very successful in producing more food, and cheaper food. But it has come at a very high cost. The practices have wrecked havoc in important biological systems, in particular in bio-diversity and the nitrogen and carbon cycles. The food system squanders its own resource base and the most precious resource on the planet, the soil. Animals are treated in a disgraceful way. While food is abundant, the distribution system, the market, fails to reach 1 billion people which are hungry, while equally many eat too much and loads of food are simply wasted. More and more people are opposing the modern food system, a few have the energy to build a new system.

Global Eating Disorder explains how our food and farm system developed into the system we have today, and how interdependent our food system and society are. Gunnar Rundgren demonstrates how farming and food processing technologies have transformed our lives and our relationship not only with nature, the plants we grow and the animals we raise, but also the relationships among ourselves. The book can be read as an evolutionary cookbook as it explains how and why the stuff on our plate reached there.

The last few hundred years, and in an sharply increasing pace, width and depth, the global market revolution fueled by oil and coal, and shaped by endless competition and rent-seeking has been the factor that has determined the whole food system, from the prairies to the supermarket shelf, from the production of margarine to the emergence of fast food chains. It even transformed the act of eating from an act of confirmation of social relations to individual satisfaction of real or imaginary dietary needs. Global Eating Disorder tells the story with a mix of long term historical perspective and plenty of current day experiences from all continents of the world.

But it left us, the animals and the planet unhappy. Most people feel a profound discomfort over how their food is produced and how this affects both the quality of the food and the world we live in. As a response to this organic farming, fair trade and alike has developed. These systems are by and large still subject to the market imperatives of competition, profit and constant labor productivity increase, and increasingly so the more successful they are. This limits their transformational power.

Real change of our farm and food system must be linked also to changes in social institutions, in particular the market. This has already started with efforts such as community supported agriculture, transition movements, local food movements, participatory guarantee systems and urban farming. A truly regenerative food and farm system will close loops of flow of energy, nutrients and most importantly meaning and culture. It will also have to reflect the role of our agriculture system for management of the planet at large and recreate links between city and land.

Global Eating Disorder shows a path forward. A path of regeneration and co-production of resources, innovation, knowledge and meaning embedded in new social and economic relationships.

Order Global Eating Disorder  for a 10% discount at: using the code: GWDZZD8D. It can also be bought from Amazon and many other market places.

See some of the articles on the blog associated to this book

Published by Regeneration 

The book is reworked to Swedish and is published by Ordfront (September 2016).