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Our Changing Times: The death of centralization

This is the fourth in the series ‘Our Changing Times’. This series is about how we are starting to alter our way of living in response to global climate change. Last time we talked about how we’re changing the way we eat. There are many other changes that are taking place. Are you centralized?Another way people are adapting to global climate change is by starting to give up on centralization. Centralization seems to be basic to the way people think. People seem to want to focus on one site or area for almost of their needs and wants.One stop shopping is something we have grown to love.Business likes it as well because it is less expensive to haul everything to one site than it is to ship products to half a dozen or more locations.This focus on one site and minimization of costs had one tacit assumption – the cost of transporting all these goods would not increase rapidly and have a hidden cost. The hidden cost is increased global warming due to the release of CO2 in the transportation of products and getting the consumer to their stores. The majority of the CO2 emissions are from the consumers not the transportation of the goods.Small and medium sizes American businesses are starting to see the wisdom in having numerous local sites for the production, sale and distribution of their products. Their customers are also starting to be increasingly unwilling to drive their cars ten or 20 miles to pickup a loaf of bread or a box of nails.It is starting to be easier to have numerous satellite stores, around a main sub-regional warehouse / mega-store, which stock all the common items that households in the local areas buy most often.In Europe, they have been using a similar system for centuries. In their cities, which are concentrated for sure, you don’t have to walk more than a block or so to find a bakery, drug store, grocery or butcher shop. It is based around availability, ease of use and cost minimization. People don’t want to buy and use a car just to take care of their basic daily requirements.In this time of global warming the European system can be viewed a model for reducing fossil fuel use and easing costs associated with shopping to the consumer and businesses. One of several U.S. cities where this idea is catching on is Portland, Oregon.While this distributed system may seem very workable it will take a serious shift in how Americans think about shopping and living in a world of global warming for it to fully develop.THINK GLOBAL – ACT LOCAL!

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