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An end of air travel in Europe for the foreseeable future

Regular readers will know that I have an aversion to flying so I ask them to understand that this is not intended to be a gloating post about the virtual end of air travel in Britain and in Europe.
I was actually amazed to hear on the television news last night that there is actually an expectation that normal service may be resumed with in days even though the Volcano in Iceland continues to spew forth huge quantities of ash into the upper atmosphere.

Airports were left abandoned after hundreds of flights were cancelled due to a volcanic eruption

Britain has extended its ban on most non-emergency flights in its airspace by six hours to 7pm local time (4am Saturday AEST) due to the ash.

Airports in France, Belgium, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Poland have also closed air space.

Flights between North America and Europe face major disruptions, with half of all services expected to be cancelled today.

European flight coordinator Eurocontrol said planes could stay grounded for at least 48 hours.

The Eyjafjallajokull volcanic eruption in southeast Iceland is showing no signs of abating after 40 hours of activity, University of Iceland geophysicist Pall Einarsson said.

“The seismographs are showing that since this morning the intensity of the eruption seems to be growing,” he said.

Although not visible from the ground, volcanic ash can be highly dangerous for aircraft, clogging up the engines and reducing visibility.

There is no reason to believe that the eruption will stop anytime soon so maybe those wishing to travel to and from Europe by air are in for a very much longer wait than is being predicted in the media. In fact it could possibly be months before it is safe to travel by jet aircraft if the volcano keeps going as it is now. Within Europe there is alway the possibility of rail travel but the world has become so dependant upon air travel that for many there is no alternative. Is this  travel mode  monopoly a good thing? I don’t think that it is actually.

Mass air travel and tourism is an artifact of a cheap energy economy and even if you dismiss the AGW alarmism (as I do) the finite nature of fossil fuels has to suggests that eventually mass travel by air would become unsustainable. Our lack of a viable alternative means that many thousands of travellers are basically stuck in the  worlds departure lounges until further notice.

I just can’t shake the idea that maybe Lovelock was onto something and that Gaia is letting us know that she does not approve of mass  air travel  and that in one fell swoop she has put an end to it and that those particles of ash will cool the planet as well which is consistent with his theory that the planet will self regulate   …

Cheers Comrades



  1. Ray Dixon says:

    It’sthe beginning of the end. Two years is all we have left.

    (JM & Len may now have the comments bar back)

  2. Iain Hall says:

    I think that we are going to see a big move back to people holidaying with in their own countries and overseas travel will once again be something that only the mega rich can contemplate Ray , then again I reckon that will be good for those in the local tourism business which I expect you will agree with me on. 🙂

  3. Ray Dixon says:

    I dunno, Iain. A lot is made about the impacts that Aussies choosing to holiday overseas (like they are now due to the high dollar) has on domestic tourism, but I tend to think it mainly affects the destinations that depend more on air travel, like the Gold Coast, Noosa & Cairns. Our market is the tourist who likes to drive to a destination and I think there’s a big gap between that tourist and the one that prefers to fly. Although when petrol prices go through the roof it does have an impact here.

    I see Len & JM are back at it. They’re going for a record I think.

  4. Myrddin Seren says:

    Whatever else, it’s telling us that modern technology is astounding and liberating, but not exactly bullet proof.

    10,000 metres up, the volcanic ash will trash jet engines and ruin windscreens by abrasion.

    Gonna be interesting to see what, if any, effect all that ash has on other infrastructure like power lines, transformers and communications if it the cloud starts to settle over continental Europe ?

    And just to ratchet up the “uh oh” moment ( heh heh), remember several European countries are on the precipice of a major issue that cannot be laid at the feet of Gaia – a mounting debt crisis. See ‘The P-I-G-S’ of which Greece is the first one in financial triage.

    Shocks to market confidence – black swan events – are not exactly welcome right now.

    Stay tuned.

  5. Lin says:

    People need to realise that there are, for aviation purposes, two levels to our atmosphere, up to about the topopause (about 10k metres depending on season) is where most of the weather occurs. That mixing and water vapour cleans the air very quickly. Above that the stratosphere is relatively calm and, except for jet streams http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jet_stream where air-masses move westward.
    That means that the debris from volcanic eruptions can be there for years.
    I congratulate you Iain on getting all three effects right in your post. There have been so few other, supposedly competent, reporters who have done that.
    Bring on the cooler weather!

  6. Iain Hall says:

    I remember how long the effects of Mt Pinatubo lasted after its eruption There is no reason to belove that this event will end any time soon

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