The Baseline Shift

A world wholly unrecognizable.

By 1950, roads spanned across the continent. By 1980, the Interstate Highway System reached into 48 states linking all major U.S. cities. By 2008, there were 2,734,102 miles of paved public roads in the U.S. (with an additional 1,324,245 miles of unpaved public roads).

In four generations, the U.S. went from zero paved roads to over 2.7 million miles of road extending into almost every parcel of land in the country. In four generations, we went from wondering if there was a way to reach a destination … to never thinking about if we can get there, just how many hours it will take.

The baseline shift — from wilderness landscape to lifeless grid — happened so slowly and gradually that few of us ever noticed. Just millions of unremarkable changes and then … we open our eyes to find a world wholly unrecognizable from the one we were born into.

abridged excerpt from