Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"The Tyranny of Distance"

“The Tyranny of Distance” Geoffrey Blainley

Once upon a time, Real Estate had 3 methods to describe its potential: Location, Location, Location. In the era of declining liquid fuel availability (and carbon constraints) the new maxim will be: How far? How far? How far?

"The Tyranny of Distance" will be the foremost consideration in the era of declining energy availability.

How long is my commute? How far is my children’s school? How far is the grocery store? How far does my waste have to be pumped from the toilet to the treatment area? How far is the water supply? How far are emergency services and law enforcement? How far is ________? (you know, fill in the blank)

Unless you have a miserably long commute (and if you are reading this it is likely you have the means at your disposal to avoid such a terrible fate; people with portfolios to protect usually don’t kill themselves commuting) you have probably not given much thought to this. But you will, and giving thought to this now can give you a tremendous advantage and create opportunities.

For example, small homes within walking distance of most services will be more desirable than their larger cousins deep in the suburbs, the locations of which require the use of much more energy for transportation (or a much longer walk or bike ride), and because they consume less energy to heat and cool. Regions with steady precipitation will be far more desirable than that lovely spread out in the desert. That cozy McMansion up in the Rockies will be a whole lot less cozy if any of the modern provisioning schemes are interrupted.

Commercial property will live under the rule of this Tyranny, too. Own a property in town that you rent to a butcher? Good for you! Own a warehouse out in the sticks dependent on the current trucking schematic? Not so good.

“The Tyranny of Distance: How Distance Shaped Australia's History” by Geoffrey Blainey is well worth the time and effort. Perhaps a sequel might be written: “The Tyranny of Distance: How Distance Shaped America’s Future in the post Peak Oil Era”.

Greg Jeffers

Mentatt (at) yahoo (dot) com

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