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close this bookDiversity, Globalization, and the Ways of Nature (IDRC, 1995, 234 p.)
close this folder2. Global trends and their effects on the environment
View the documentThe information revolution
View the documentDevelopment of global financial markets
View the documentDevelopment of more effective transportation networks
View the documentMovement of people
View the documentGlobalization and the unequal distribution of wealth
View the documentInternational migration
View the documentThe development of free markets

Movement of people

Another element in this changing world is the increased speed, volume, and accessibility of transportation for people, mainly by air travel. At any moment, throughout the world, several thousand planes are in the air, transporting tens if not hundreds of thousands of people over hundreds or thousands of kilometres. In addition, ground transportation (by automobile, bus, or train) has also become much more flexible, accessible, and rapid, increasing severalfold the number of kilometres that people travel during their lives.

The effects of this increase in travel are felt in many ways. First, there has been phenomenal growth in the tourist industry. Many countries receive over 10 million visitors annually (mainly tourists); in some popular tourist destinations, such as Spain, Italy, the United States, and Mexico, the number of visitors can surpass 30 or 40 million per year. Second, business travel has similarly increased. Business dealings are carried out more frequently and effectively by complementing telecommunications with face-to-face contact. Third, previously difficult international and national social contacts are now becoming commonplace. Thousands of international or interstate sports competitions, conferences, and other events are becoming the rule rather than the exception. Last, but not least, the ease of international travel has increased the flow of international migrants. The main emigration routes, over which people are driven by social, economic, and political situations and events, have been made more accessible by better transportation.

This increase in the transnational flow of people is a major factor in globalization. Visitors interact in many ways with their host countries, exchanging money, purchasing products, influencing (and being influenced by) culture. Migrants interact still more. They affect local job markets, they experience and produce cultural changes, and they mix socially and genetically. The result is an unprecedented mixture of cultures and groups, with the subsequent acquisition or loss of knowledge, changes in outlook, more rapid evolution of processes, behaviour, and attitudes.

Like other global trends, increased travel has produced uniformity, while also fostering diversity. The two processes are taking place simultaneously, although probably at different levels of social systems and consciousness.