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.
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 …