Sunday December 17, 2017

Shipocalypse Now

Packages move along a conveyor belt at an Amazon shipping facility in Tracy, California.

Packages move along a conveyor belt at an Amazon shipping facility in Tracy, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Listen 34:19

Who doesn't love receiving a parcel? The ripping of wrapping, the sizzle of a surprise, the anticipation of a desire gratified.

The thrill may not be quite what it used to be.

UPS-Peak Fee

Our almost insatiable need to have growing amounts of stuff in our hands in a virtual instant, has vaulted parcel shipping and delivery to a pivotal place in the economy. (Mark Lennihan/The Associated Press)

All year, and especially at this time of the year, this is a country drowning in packages. And it will only get worse.

About $2 trillion will be spent on line this year worldwide. That will double by 2021.

Ira Basen

Sunday Edition contributor Ira Basen

Our almost insatiable need to have growing amounts of stuff in our hands in a virtual instant, has vaulted parcel shipping and delivery to a pivotal place in the economy. 

It's high science and high stakes. 

And as Ira Basen discovered, it has implications far beyond the obvious — for the environment, for the design of cities, for who we work for and the homes we live in.

Here's Ira's documentary: Ship Happens.

Click 'listen' above to hear the full documentary.