Ochensky Opinion: Globalization meets entropy – and we are losing | Chroniclers

It seems that just a few years ago theoretical economists and insatiable capitalists were head over heels in love with globalization. And why not? Continuing on from old-fashioned colonialism, rich nations go anywhere on the planet to find the cheapest resources with the least amount of pesky environmental or labor regulations and pocket huge profits when they sell them to corporations. consumers. But then came the pandemic – and with all the “unintended consequences,” globalization has now moved towards entropy.

Entropy, which is the third law of thermodynamics, is defined as “a scientific concept, as well as a measurable physical property which is most often associated with a state of disorder, randomness or uncertainty”. In more understandable terms, he is essentially saying that the universe and all of its systems are evolving towards chaos, not organization. In addition, the more complex a system, the more energy it takes to maintain order and the more likely it is to fail.

This is an easy concept to understand in our current societal systems – they are extremely complex, require enormous amounts of energy to maintain themselves, and, thanks to their complexity, are increasingly susceptible to collapse. A simple example would be our transportation systems – it’s easy to walk on a path. When you convert the path into a multi-lane highway and fill it with thousands of vehicles, keeping “order”, as if to prevent accidents, becomes much more difficult and much more expensive.

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Apparently, in the dreamlike world of theoretical economics, those exhibiting the wonders of globalization believed that they might somehow escape the consequences of one of the primary laws of the universe. Only now, as we see more and more every day, they were wrong.

The operation of a “globalized” system of production, consumption and pollution has, to say the least, many moving parts, which means that more problems can arise and ultimately affect the entire system.

In our current situation, the pandemic has plunged much of the “globalized” system into chaos. The reason COVID-19 is called a “pandemic” is because it affects the entire planet. As a result, when workers in the factory that produces microchips for virtually all of our electronic devices are sick, quarantined, or die, the supply of vital vital parts is interrupted and any process that relies on these chips – such as production. automobile – cannot operate. .

Likewise, when something as basic as dockworkers are affected by the extremely wide impacts of the pandemic, container ships cannot be loaded, cross oceans, or unloaded at their destination. This is not theoretical, it happens daily across the world.

None of the “supply chain” problems will go away anytime soon, and neither will entropy. What should – and can – disappear is the fantasy of a concept of globalization that works smoothly, hugely profitable and horribly polluting as the path to a sustainable future.

As for the alternatives, they are already being developed and implemented while the fragility of globalization and its increasingly significant drawbacks become more and more evident every day. Self-sufficiency is making a comeback, as evidenced by the nascent local food production movement. Likewise, local production of electricity, especially from renewable resources like solar energy, is increasing, providing both energy security and environmental benefits.

The choice is ours – we can continue on the path of failure as globalization meets entropy as we burn our resources for quick profits and choke our own exhaust. Or we can reject the consumption and pollution model of globalization, increase localization, and give future generations a chance for a liveable and sustainable future.

George Ochensky writes from Helena. His column appears every Monday on the Opinion page of the Missoulian.

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