To hear some environmentalists speak you would think that we are currently in the environmental dark ages. The ever expanding economy (current hiccup exempted) means that we are using up ever more resources, spewing out ever more pollution and generally leading the way to Hell in a handcart.
That they say this when the air and the waters are cleaner than they have been for many centuries, when resources, judged by their price, are cheaper and thus more abundant than ever, causes no little amusement.
However, it is their next step which is so dangerous. We must localise all production, not eat food from outside our own region: depending upon who you talk to it might be from outside your own garden, town, county or bioregion but international trade is certainly very naughty indeed. In fact, we shouldn’t be getting anything at all from other countries, let alone the other side of the world.
Localism in government is to be admired, localism in production and consumption rather less so.
A new book on the end of the Roman Empire points to this as the defining economic mark of that age:
An emphasis on “localization” as the fundamental change following the fall of the Roman Empire, and numerous micro-studies of exactly how that localization occurred. Cities shrank, trade networks dried up, etc.
Not for nothing do we decribe that time as The Dark Ages. Last time around it came about because of the collapse (for whatever reasons) of a political power. Let’s not inflict it upon ourselves in the name of environmentalism, eh?