by Jenny Friedrich-Freksa

Nonstop (Issue III/2019)


Everything is in motion: Never before have so many goods and people been on the move as today.Up to 200,000 aircraft take off and land every day, not counting military, transport and private jets. In cities like Nairobi or Bogotá, constant traffic jams are completely normal, people sit, immobile, in their cars for hours and hours every day. On the seas, huge merchant ships transport vast loads of goods around the world – avocados as well as televisions, T-shirts or coal. The history of transport is long. People have always been mobile and have always changed the world through great inventions (such as the car) or buildings (such as the Panama Canal). The expansion of global trade and international tourism, however, has led to gigantic growth in global traffic flows in recent years.

In this issue the Chinese author Shi Ming explains the largest transport project of modern times, the New Silk Road, and the British economist Marc Levinson reminds us that the invention of the container made today's global consumption possible in the first place. And the journalist Salifu Abdul-Rahaman reports from northern Ghana on the region's transformation following the expansion of the Fufulso-Sawla Road.

Locomotion and transport are subject to many cultural peculiarities. That's why we asked skippers, air traffic controllers and rickshaw drivers about their work. And the Iranian psychologist Parichehr Scharifi tells us why people are often get so worked up when they drive.

Looking at how international transport is going, gives an urgent sense that everything should slow down. That chimes with what climate researchers have been saying for years: jump on the train instead of taking the plane, travel to Manchester or Mecklenburg rather than to the Maldives, munch the apple from the village next door instead of a kiwi from New Zealand. And leave the car behind whenever possible. Cities like Stockholm show that the change to a new transport culture can succeed. All you have to do is get going. 

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