Is Eating Local the Best Choice?

Those who say eating local is not always the best choice for the planet are forgetting one very important part of the equation: community.

Some 30 years ago NASA came up with another BIG idea. Assemble vast solar electric arrays in space and beam the energy to earth. The environmental community did not dismiss NASA’s vision out of hand. After all, the sun shines 24 hours a day in space. A solar cell on earth harnesses only about four hours equivalent of full sunshine a day. If renewable electricity could be generated more cheaply in space than on earth, what’s the problem?A number of us argued that the problem was inherent in the scale of the power plant. Whereas rooftop solar turns us into producers, builds our self-confidence and strengthens our sense of community as we trade electricity back and forth with our neighbors, space-based solar arrays aggravate our dependence. By dramatically increasing the distance between us and a product essential to our survival, we become more insecure. The scale of the technology demands a global corporation, increasing the distance between those who make the decisions and those who feel the impact of those decisions. Which, in turn, demands a global oversight body, itself remote and nontransparent to electric consumers.

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