The tide is rising

Over the years I have often said that telecommuting is  like a tide, not a tidal wave, when asked why telecommuting is not an overnight sensation. Imperceptible, perhaps, but sure. Yes, the telecommuting tide is rising steadily, as it has been for years. Witness an opinion column by Robin Rauzi in the 2 March 2016 edition of the Los Angeles Times in which she writes:

Labor statistics show telecommuting on the rise. In 2010 9.5% of employees worked from home at least once a week, and high-speed Internet connectivity has made that easier since then. (Ever wonder why traffic is the worst on Thursdays? That’s the day people are least likely to work from home.)

Finally more people are noticing that not going to (wherever) is a viable transit option. Rush hour traffic is a powerful incentive not to commute. If only it can be done easily. Well, the available technology, particularly the internet, is making not going ever easier. Staying put is ever more popular, especially among the millennials who seem to eschew car ownership. Online shopping has been transformed from books to clothing to groceries to new and used cars. So its not just the trip to work that is shortening or disappearing for many of us. It’s all sorts of trip types that have shifted from physical space to cyberspace. As the tide rises.

This trend has a number of side effects. Demand for oil has plummeted, partially because of slow economies, partly because of the decreases in transportation demand just mentioned. That’s bad news mainly for the oil industries of the world — and for governments that depend on oil income for sustenance. It’s good news for environmentalists and others who (finally) know that climate change is upon us. The slower that change comes on, the more time we have to adapt to a warmer world.

For example, the real tide, the one in the world’s oceans, is also rising — farther than before because of global warming’s effects on the volume of the oceans. The faster we can switch to telecommuting and sustainable energy uses, the more time we’ll have to keep our feet dry.

Meanwhile, as Bill McKibben of the Boston Globe writes, the climate change milestone we’ve been warned about may have already come!

Across the northern hemisphere, the temperature, if only for a few hours, apparently crossed a line: it was more than two degrees Celsius above “normal” for the first time in recorded history and likely for the first time in the course of human civilization.

Here we’ve been thinking that the 2 degrees Celsius point was some years away still. Not so much. Folks, this is not something we can ignore any longer. Not even the politicians can ignore it. Don’t wait for them to act, start doing it yourself. Start, or increase your telecommuting. Every bit helps to cool it.


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