Oil and the Geography of Desire
The annihilation of distance is a feature of our modern life. On the network, all locations are one click apart. Or rather, two clicks, because most transport is mediated by Google. In our daily lives, the products in local stores, and the food in the fridge has global sources. The cost of transportation, combined with lower production costs, has made geography a non-factor.
What was once exotic is now available everywhere. In the United States we’ve achieved a kind of homogeneity of place that at first seems desirable, but soon becomes boring and expected. We no longer know the seasonality of our food, our local stores are replaced by national chain stores. Our set of choices is much larger, but it’s the same set available everywhere to everyone.
Geography and distance had become a hidden facet of the products we buy and the food we consume. The price of oil has surfaced this hidden facet. The exotic becomes exotic again; a grape is no longer just a grape, but it’s a grape from Chile. The quality of distance is reasserted, and distance has a price. Higher prices result in lower demand, and may create different economics around many things we’ve come to think of as local.