7
How Is the Movement of People, Goods, and Ideas Transforming the World?

Without the movement of goods, people, and ideas, cities falter, economies wane, and societies wither. As local economies and their associated land uses have become more specialized, mobility has grown ever more central to the sustainability of human activity. Economic specialization, which has fueled productivity growth and propelled the dispersion of interlinked activities worldwide, is premised upon various forms of mobility, including the migration of labor from low-wage to high-wage places, the daily travel of workers from their homes to workplaces, the movement of materials to worksites, and the distribution of finished products to markets. When mobility ceases, as in the case of a natural disaster, not only do workplaces fall idle, but also people cannot get emergency medical attention, families cannot obtain food, and social gatherings of all sorts are canceled or postponed.

The increasing importance of mobility to local, regional, and global economies and to everyday life is reflected in data showing the relentless increase in many measures of the movement of people and goods (Figures 7.1 and 7.2). In the United States, the movement of people and freight has been steadily increasing.1 At the international scale, human migration more than doubled between 1970 and 2000, with the largest proportion of migrants moving to countries in the developed world (Figure 7.2; Clark 2006a), and climate change is likely to accelerate these trends (see special issue of Forced Migration Review, 2008).

The evidence of steadily increasing mobility runs counter to the claim that distance—and the movement required to overcome it—no longer matters because of high-speed information and communication technologies (ICTs; e.g., Cairncross, 1997). If ICT has rendered distance irrelevant, as suggested by the death-of-distance hypothesis, then people and businesses should have little reason to incur the time and money costs involved in moving themselves or goods over increasingly greater distances. People would rely primarily on the keyboard and mobile phone to reach destinations of interest, and measures of mobility would fall. Although ICT has had impacts on physical movements at the scale of daily travel and may have affected migration streams (e.g., via the outsourcing of software development and call centers to India), the nature of the impacts is complex and generally has not conformed to predictions associated with the death-of-distance hypothesis (Mokhtarian, 2003; Janelle, 2004).

Persistent upward trends in mobility reflect rising affluence in some cases (as in the United States) but can also exacerbate differences among places (as when people move from rural areas to cities); in addition, rising mobility is associated with escalating conflict in some instances (as in refugee flows) and can produce high levels of urban congestion. Because of the strong links between motorized movement and petroleum consumption, ever-increasing mobility also raises concerns about greenhouse gas emissions. Transportation

1

One exception is residential mobility, which has declined in recent decades. The proportion of the U.S. population that changed residence in any given year has fallen from about 20 percent in the 1950s and 1960s to 12-13 percent in recent years (2006-2008). See www.census.gov/population/socdemo/migration/tab-a-1.xls (accessed January 20, 2010).



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7 How Is the Movement of People, Goods, and Ideas Transforming the World? W ithout the movement of goods, people, veloped world (Figure 7.2; Clark 2006a), and climate and ideas, cities falter, economies wane, change is likely to accelerate these trends (see special and societies wither. As local economies issue of Forced Migration Review, 2008). and their associated land uses have become more The evidence of steadily increasing mobility runs specialized, mobility has grown ever more central counter to the claim that distance—and the move- to the sustainability of human activity. Economic ment required to overcome it—no longer matters be- specialization, which has fueled productivity growth cause of high-speed information and communication and propelled the dispersion of interlinked activities technologies (ICTs; e.g., Cairncross, 1997). If ICT worldwide, is premised upon various forms of mobil- has rendered distance irrelevant, as suggested by the ity, including the migration of labor from low-wage death-of-distance hypothesis, then people and busi- to high-wage places, the daily travel of workers from nesses should have little reason to incur the time and their homes to workplaces, the movement of materials money costs involved in moving themselves or goods to worksites, and the distribution of finished products over increasingly greater distances. People would rely to markets. When mobility ceases, as in the case of a primarily on the keyboard and mobile phone to reach natural disaster, not only do workplaces fall idle, but destinations of interest, and measures of mobility would also people cannot get emergency medical attention, fall. Although ICT has had impacts on physical move- families cannot obtain food, and social gatherings of ments at the scale of daily travel and may have affected all sorts are canceled or postponed. migration streams (e.g., via the outsourcing of software The increasing importance of mobility to local, development and call centers to India), the nature of the regional, and global economies and to everyday life impacts is complex and generally has not conformed is reflected in data showing the relentless increase in to predictions associated with the death-of-distance many measures of the movement of people and goods hypothesis (Mokhtarian, 2003; Janelle, 2004). (Figures 7.1 and 7.2). In the United States, the move- Persistent upward trends in mobility reflect rising ment of people and freight has been steadily increas- affluence in some cases (as in the United States) but ing.1 At the international scale, human migration more can also exacerbate differences among places (as when than doubled between 1970 and 2000, with the largest people move from rural areas to cities); in addition, proportion of migrants moving to countries in the de- rising mobility is associated with escalating conflict in some instances (as in refugee flows) and can produce high levels of urban congestion. Because of the strong 1One exception is residential mobility, which has declined in recent decades. The proportion of the U.S. population that changed links between motorized movement and petroleum residence in any given year has fallen from about 20 percent in the consumption, ever-increasing mobility also raises con- 1950s and 1960s to 12-13 percent in recent years (2006-2008). cerns about greenhouse gas emissions. Transportation See www.census.gov/population/socdemo/migration/tab-a-1.xls (accessed January 20, 2010). 75

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6 UNDERSTANDING THE CHANGING PLANET Growth in U.S. Population, Income, Passenger Vehicle Miles Traveled, and Combination Truck Miles Traveled, 1970-2005 4.50 4.00 3.50 3.00 Index, 1970 = 1 2.50 2.00 1.50 1.00 0.50 0.00 70 75 80 85 90 95 00 05 19 19 19 19 19 19 20 20 Year Passenger VMT Population Income Trucks, combination FIGURE 7.1 The rise in passenger vehicle miles traveled (VMT) since 1970 in the United States closely tracks increasing incomes but well exceeds population gains. In the United States, passenger VMT in 2005 was more than 2.5 times VMT in 1970 whereas population grew by a factor of only 1.5. Worldwide, passenger travel (kilometers traveled) more than quadrupled between 1960 and 1990 and is expected to more than quadruple again by 2050 (Schafer and Victor, 2000). NOTE: “Trucks, combination” combines all vehicles with two or more units, one of which is a tractor or straight truck power unit. Miles­traveled statistics are for highway travel. SOURCES: Passenger VMT data from National Transportation Statistics, Table 1­32; population statistics from U.S. Census Bureau (2007), Table 2; combination truck statistics from Federal Highway Administration (annual series), Table VM­1. Growth in Global Human Migration, 1970-2000 200 Number of international migrants (millions) 180 160 140 120 World 100 Developed Countries Developing Countries 80 60 40 20 0 1970 1980 1990 2000 Year FIGURE 7.2 The total number of international migrants in the world increased steadily between 1970 and 2000, with an increasing proportion of such migrants moving to developed countries as migration destinations. SOURCE: Adapted from International Organi­ zation for Migration (2005).

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 MOVEMENT accounts for about one-third of the U.S. carbon emis- the landscape. Relatively inexpensive and dependable sions stemming from energy use. The reliance of the mobility from the local to the global scales has enabled transportation sector on petroleum and its significant this form of spatial organization to become truly global, contribution to carbon emissions places mobility on with high levels of specialization twinned with long- geopolitical and climate change agendas. distance linkages integrating the global space-economy (Dicken, 2003). Because connectivity varies from place to place (Figure 7.3), these mobility-based globaliza- role oF The geograPhical scieNces tion processes have contributed to the patterns of Geographical patterns of human activity, such as inequality discussed in Chapter 8. settlement patterns or the locational arrangements Place-specific policies can play a role in shaping of manufacturing or services, are shaped by patterns the nature of the relationship between geographical of mobility. With expertise in analyzing connections pattern and process. At the intraurban scale, Giuliano between spatial patterns and processes, the geographi- (1995) showed that the land-use impacts of trans- cal sciences investigate the causes and consequences portation investments are highly variable from place of mobility at varying spatial scales. Early work estab- to place because they depend on local economic and lished that increases in accessibility provided through political conditions. For example, the light-rail transit expansion of, and improvements to, the road network (LRT) built in Buffalo, New York, in the 1970s, failed fundamentally altered the settlement system; as travel to revitalize that city, whereas Portland, Oregon’s speeds increased, larger places grew, whereas smaller LRT has been central to a suite of policies that have places declined and sometimes disappeared altogether supported the continued vibrancy of Portland’s city (Garrison et al., 1959). Underscoring the relationship center and helped increase the share of travel made via between mobility and land-use patterns, research has public transit. Similarly, Mountz (2004) documented how international migration flows, specifically those also demonstrated that improved access via expanded involving human smuggling, are influenced by the road capacity leads to increased traffic flows (Sheppard, micro decisions of immigration bureaucrats in destina- 1995), which further reinforce differences between and tion places. Her ethnographic study of the differential among places. Moreover, some of those impacts are felt receptiveness of places within Canada to immigrants in places that are quite distant from the network seg- illustrates the importance of governance practices and ments that were improved (Giuliano, 1995). A remain- structures at national and provincial levels. ing research challenge is to understand how to increase Geographical technologies, especially geographic accessibility without exacerbating the traffic congestion information systems, facilitate the tasks of analyzing that now plagues cities around the world. Research has begun to identify the specific aspects place-specific dimensions of mobility patterns and of places that are salient to mobility processes and processes at varying spatial scales. At the regional level, will therefore determine how increasing mobility the adoption of such technologies by planning agen- will change the world differently in different places. cies has transformed the ability of planners to create Research to date suggests that the causes and conse- optimal designs and communicate projected impacts quences of increasing mobility will continue to have of different planning scenarios to the public (Nyerges, certain common threads across places, while also dif- 2004). At the individual level, the rapid adoption of Global Positioning System (GPS) technologies is alter- fering in important ways from place to place. However, ing the mobility of vehicle drivers, pedestrians, and much remains to be learned about the reasons for and cyclists. Still largely missing are comparable systems outcomes of those differences. for wayfinding indoors, as in large retail complexes, The spatial separation of specialized land uses— and for helping the visually impaired, such as “talking such as food stores or city parks at the local scale or the signs.” The potential impacts of the widespread adop- manufacture of magnetic recording heads for 30 per- tion of these technologies are substantial. For example, cent of the world’s computer hard drives in Dongguan, if everyone is capable of finding a destination, then China (The Economist, 2008) at the global scale—makes the destination need not advertise its location or adopt economic specialization and scale economies visible on

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 UNDERSTANDING THE CHANGING PLANET FIGURE 7.3 Global accessibility map showing that the time needed to travel to a city of 50,000 or more population varies substan­ tially. The map shows that only 10 percent of the world’s land area is more than 2 days’ travel by land or water from a city of that size. Imagine the accessibility differences that would become apparent by creating other maps like this at different scales and with other access criteria, such as distance to a city with a population of at least 100,000. SOURCE: © European Commission, 2008. a location that is prominent in the landscape, such as a mobility (Mokhtarian and Meenakshisundaram, 1999; street corner. The following research questions provide Mokhtarian, 2003). In the business world, face-to-face examples of the types of movement and mobility issues contact remains the most essential form of interfirm the geographical sciences are particularly well posi- interaction (e.g., Cook et al., 2007), with e-mail, tioned to investigate. telephone, and videoconferencing used to supplement rather than replace face-to-face interactions. Because of the importance of face-to-face communication for research suBQuesTioNs these firms, business success depends on geographical, not virtual, proximity to other firms, giving rise to a how does virtual interaction reflect and alter the daily movement of workers to dense clusters of firms organization and movement of people, goods, and that fosters growing traffic congestion. ideas in geographical space? Research has begun to address the dynamic rela- Just as physical mobility has been increasing in tionship between virtual interaction and the movement many different ways, so has virtual interaction via the of people and goods. Understanding this relationship Internet, telephone, videoconferencing, e-mail, cell will be necessary for designing policies aimed at reduc- phones, and text messaging. Despite initial predictions ing energy consumption, managing urban congestion, that virtual interactions via ICT would eliminate or and cutting greenhouse gases. Schwanen and Kwan substantially reduce the need for movement, research (2008) showed that the ways in which ICT affects indicates that these forms of interaction are comple- individuals’ movements depend on context (type of mentary and synergistic, rather than substitutable; activity undertaken, place, time, technologies available). in some cases ICT increases rather than decreases The primary impact appears to be that mobile ICT

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 MOVEMENT allows for more temporal flexibility in the scheduling of York Times and Washington Post argued that sharply activities, whereas the Internet allows for greater spatial increased fuel costs had curtailed global supply chains flexibility of activities, especially work and shopping. and challenged the just-in-time delivery process that As new forms of ICT, especially mobile ICT, are more manufacturers worldwide have come to rely on (Cha, widely adopted, research can illuminate which kinds 2008; Rohter, 2008). The newspaper stories tell of of physical movements are most affected and how; for several manufacturers that had recently shifted their example, such technology can enable new forms of ride operations from China to the United States because of sharing that could reduce carbon emissions. large increases in shipping costs (from approximately The geographical sciences are also well positioned $3,000 in 2000 to approximately $8,000 in 2008 for to assist industries with finding optimal ways to com- a 40-ft container), which had come to trump China’s bine increasingly important virtual interaction with lower labor costs. Following classical economic geogra- the persisting importance of grounded contacts. For phy theory (Weber, 1929), the industries that are most example, Aoyama and Ratick (2007), using data from a likely to relocate and restructure when shipping costs nationwide survey of logistics firms and from interviews skyrocket are those, such as steel and furniture, that they conducted with logistics providers and users in the produce goods that are high in bulk or weight relative northeastern United States, found that although the use to their selling price. of ICT tools is widespread, traditional trust-based rela- Relatively little is known about how the mobility tionships remain fundamental to logistics operations. behavior of U.S. firms and consumers might respond to Research points to the value of examining the com- sustained, significant price increases in energy. The his- plex dependencies between virtual and physical forms torical record is not helpful because the United States of interaction. Further research is needed on how spe- has not experienced the kind of prolonged, substantial cific aspects of places (e.g., settlement density, cultural price increase in petroleum that might lead to altered norms, network configurations) affect the relationship mobility and land-use patterns. The rapid and dra- between virtual and physical mobility. A combination of matic, but relatively short-lived, price increases follow- geographical approaches, including time-space studies ing the oil embargo of 1973 led to a minor, temporary of human movement in different environments, can dip in the mobility-growth curve shown in Figure 7.1, illuminate how, for example, increasing road congestion and the main midterm impact was the consumer shift or energy costs are likely to change the ICT-mobility to smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles. Comparisons relationship or how new forms of ICT, including the with Europe, where higher taxes on fuel have made deployment of GPS systems in cell phones, might alter energy more costly than in the United States, are of the ICT-movement relationship. Understanding how limited use because the distances to be traversed are the rapidly evolving forms of virtual interaction reflect far greater in the United States (in part because energy and alter the organization and movement of people, has been so relatively inexpensive) and because mobil- goods, and ideas in geographical space will require de- ity patterns are to a large degree culturally specific; the tailed, geospatially referenced information at the levels norms in Europe, regarding, for example, bicycling or of the person, household, and firm. One promising the use of public transit, differ substantially from those avenue is the use of data from cell phones equipped in the United States. with GPS units; such data have proved effective in Geographical research can provide important in- measuring the spatial dimensions and intensity of social sights into how changing energy prices are likely to affect the movement of people and goods, the inter- interactions (Eagle et al., 2009). action of virtual and physical forms of mobility, and the geographical organization of the landscape. Such how do changing energy costs influence the analyses are not likely to be straightforward, however, movement of people and commodities and the because the parameters of the relationships involved geographical organization of the landscape? are dynamic and place specific, and considerable uncer- The global economy is dependent on cheap, abun- tainty surrounds people’s response to increasing energy dant energy. Articles published in 2008 in the New prices. Economic theory suggests, for example, that as

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0 UNDERSTANDING THE CHANGING PLANET the cost of transport rises relative to income, mobility some regularity to their place of origin, the greater ease will be curtailed, but recent evidence does not sup- of sustained communication with people in the home port this contention. Hughes et al. (2008) compared place, and the speed with which changes in one part consumers’ sensitivity to increases in gasoline prices in of the world are felt via refugee and migrant flows in 1975-1980 with those in 2000-2006 and found that other parts of the world. the short-run price elasticities for gasoline were signifi- Researchers have traced the impacts of migra- cantly lower in 2000-2006, indicating that to effect a tion on people and communities. In a study of Dalit reduction in gasoline consumption, much higher price circular migration within and beyond India, Gidwani increases will be needed. Whereas these authors model and Sivaramakrishnan (2003) demonstrated that migra- the overall demand for gasoline in the United States tion alters migrants’ identities by broadening their as a function of price, geographical scientists can, by experience and increasing their sense of agency. In the disaggregating demand spatially, determine how such high-income countries of North America, Europe, and price elasticities are related to the geographical charac- Asia, immigration is a topic of great debate, especially teristics of different places. Spatial analysis that is sensi- as it affects receiving communities. Within the United tive to place differences can also demonstrate the range States, for example, workers have voiced concern that of likely impacts of energy price increases on people’s the presence of immigrants depresses wages and takes residential choices and daily travel patterns. jobs away from the U.S.-born labor force. Research has not yet settled this debate, however. Using data from Los Angeles, Ellis and Wright (1999) demonstrated how is migration reshaping local communities, that because immigrants and nonimmigrants tend to labor markets, and ethnic and national identities? work in different types of jobs, with newly arrived Migration is a form of mobility that entails a change immigrants and U.S.-born migrants to Los Angeles in residential location and can involve moves from the channeling into non-overlapping sets of industries for intraurban to the global scale. Although rising incomes work, the presence of immigrants does not lower the and the ease of communication and return migration wages of, or take jobs away from, U.S.-born workers. have made such moves less difficult for some people, In contrast, others have documented a variety of im- the fears and realities of epidemics and terrorism have migrant impacts on native-born workers, including rendered migration far more difficult for others, includ- wage reduction (Borjas, 2006) and the movement of ing Muslims, refugees, and people from areas with high native-born workers out of industries that become rates of HIV/AIDS or Avian flu. Fences in Israel and at immigrant-intensive (Altonji and Card, 1991). the U.S.-Mexico border stand as proof that some bor- Whether migration is linked to altered or un- ders are hardening, while the relatively recent freedom changed identities will vary from place to place; of movement for workers within the European Union comparative research can tease out the common- is evidence of other borders softening (Figure 7.4). alities in these place-based relationships, which have Migration changes people, and it changes places. strategic importance for migrant well-being as well as for political stability at various spatial scales (see A change in location often brings with it a change in C hapter 9). Research has shown how the ethnic personal identity, with potentially major implications makeup of migrant receiving communities can affect for politics in the receiving place. When migrants who m igrant identities and migration outcomes (e.g., have moved either short or long distances differ from Western, 2007). Migration can also lead to hardened residents in the receiving community, their arrival, identities. In a study of rural-to-urban migration in especially in large numbers, brings change to that com- Ecuador, Lawson (2002) found that, owing to the munity, whether it is a neighborhood or a nation. In a racism and economic hardship that migrants encoun- world of relatively cheap travel, instantaneous commu- tered in the city, they tended to retain their ethnic and nication, and deep divisions among people, contempo- rary migration poses new challenges to understanding regional identities from their rural places of origin. these impacts. Among these challenges are the increas- This finding is important because these migrants did ing circularity of migration, in which people return with not identify with other poor people in the city or join

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 MOVEMENT FIGURE 7.4 Refugees and displaced people from the former Yugoslavia since 1991. There have been nearly 800,000 people who have left the former Yugoslavia since 1991. SOURCE: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. with them to work for improved living and working Additional studies along these lines can identify which conditions. The ethnic composition of a migrant’s characteristics of the local residential environment receiving community affects not only identity but also matter most to migrant outcomes and to the receiving the degree of segregation among different groups and community as a whole. differences in income levels. Musterd et al. (2008), using longitudinal disaggregate data (1995-2002) from Where are the greatest points of vulnerability Statistics Sweden, discovered that whereas living in a in the transportation network and what are the neighborhood with high concentrations of co-ethnics implications of disruptions at those points of is initially a boon to migrant incomes, such cluster- vulnerability? ing can soon become a disadvantage. Moreover, the employment status of neighbors from other ethnic Mobility depends on integrated, well-maintained groups can have an impact, which is often positive if transportation networks. Although transportation net- neighbors are employed but negative if they are not. works have become denser in many parts of the world,

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 UNDERSTANDING THE CHANGING PLANET in the United States some network segments have been for governments to “inventory critical transportation pruned back in recent decades. In the Great Plains, for infrastructure in light of climate change projections example, many rural roads have been abandoned, in to determine whether, when, and where projected part because of declining rural population densities in climate changes . . . might be consequential” (p. 192). some areas and in part because of the increasing costs Transportation networks are vulnerable to far more of maintaining older infrastructure such as bridges. As than climate change, however, and the need to assess networks are rationalized, the remaining ones become network vulnerabilities and their consequences extends more vulnerable because there are no alternatives in well beyond coastal areas. the event of failure or attack. This problem is especially The analytical tools of the geographical sciences are apparent in the rail network, which has been drastically well suited to this task. Work by Peterson and Church thinned as the system has modernized and become (2008) provides an example of both the potential and more cost-conscious, to the point that in some areas the current limitations of such research. Using rail the network now lacks almost all redundancy. network data from Oak Ridge National Laboratories Ports are especially vulnerable points in the nation’s and freight data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics,2 they developed a rail routing model to assess transport network. Assessing the impacts of losing major port facilities to disaster and identifying potential the loss of a rail bridge. Their analysis showed that, for alternative trade facilities should be two high-priority all traffic going to and from Washington state that used research topics. The ports of Los Angeles and Long the Sandpoint Bridge, the detours—upon the loss of Beach, for example, handle nearly one-quarter of U.S. the bridge—averaged 330 miles. Impedances increased total exports and 40 percent of all containerized cargo as well, indicating that the selected detour routes were import traffic, a trade volume equal to $256 billion in not ideal. Because the national rail dataset lacks data 2005 (BST Associates, 2007). The importance of these on track capacity, this study was not able to take this ports to the national economy is further underlined important variable into account. Because some routes by the fact that more than 60 percent of the cargo are already operating at capacity, some freight might arriving there is destined for markets outside Southern not be transported or trains could be forced to take California (BST Associates, 2007), and two-thirds of even longer routes if the Sandpoint Bridge became exports originate outside California (POLA/POLB, impassable. 2008). The geographical sciences can also contribute summarY to identifying the greatest points of vulnerability in Understanding how and why mobility and mobility the U.S. transportation network and document the consequences vary systematically from place to place impacts that would follow should mobility through will be crucial for predicting the range of likely eco- those vulnerable points be lost. A recent National nomic, environmental, social, and political impacts of Research Council report, Potential Impacts of Climate increasing mobility and altered mobility choices in the Change on U.S. Transportation (NRC, 2008b), called coming decades. Geographical scientists from several attention to the vulnerability of transportation infra- structure to climate change, concluding that the most disciplines, including geography, civil engineering, vulnerable places are likely to be in coastal regions. sociology, economics, and political science, are well That committee’s first recommendation was, in part, positioned to take up these questions. 2See www.bts.gov/publications/national_transportation_statis- tics/ (accessed January 20, 2010).