|Diversity, Globalization, and the Ways of Nature (IDRC, 1995, 234 p.)|
|2. Global trends and their effects on the environment|
Although to a much lesser degree than the flow of information, the transportation of merchandise has been deeply affected by postindustrial changes. The internationalization of air traffic allows for the rapid transportation of a wide range of lightweight, high-value, perishable, or time-sensitive merchandise, such as electronic equipment and parts, food, flowers, and newsprint. The movement of freight by sea has also become more efficient with the development of computerized shipping and the associated improvement of commercial systems, faster ships, and modular packaging. The effectiveness and safety of shipping has been improved considerably by the worldwide adoption of container systems, which reduce the risk of theft and spoilage and significantly accelerate the loading and unloading of goods.
These improvements have promoted the growth of trade worldwide by reducing shipping costs and facilitating redistribution of production. Production occurs more and more often at the most convenient place, that is, the most economic, simplest, and safest site available. This is making it more difficult for governments and lobby groups to retain industries or other economic activities artificially in noneconomic situations.
The lubrication of merchandise transport systems is also playing a role in the uniformity-diversity dichotomy. On the one hand, there is movement toward uniformity, through stricter and more widespread application of standards, specifications, and quality control. On the other hand, container systems permit the movement of diverse products within a highly standardized system. As with information, the final result will likely display both characteristics.