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Volcanic Ash and the Celebration of ‘Slow’

April 18, 2010

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You’ve seen the stats over the costs and benefits of the volcanic ash cloud that’s currently hovering over most of Europe, grounding all flights in the region: over 206 tonnes of CO2 saved, shortages of medicine, cut flowers and exotic fruit and vegetables. The grounding of all flights has already cost the British economy at least £920 million, with losses set to rise at the rate of £230m for every day of further disruption. Calls for government ‘bail-outs’ of the airline industry.

But underneath the chaos and hysteria of the media, things are relatively quiet on the ground. For the most part, people are out and about enjoying the sunshine. Travelers stranded in various cities across Europe have either made it back to their home countries the old fashioned way (boats and trains), or are enjoying the extra few days of holiday. And maybe they are realizing that in actual fact, spending more time on a boat or train, watching the world go by, may actually be more fun than a quick and security-heavy 2 hour flight that zaps you from one airport to another. And the few extra hours spent did not actually lead to the downfall of Western civilization after all.

Planes vs Volcano: Who's emitting the most CO2?

Climate change skeptics, or those who argue against halting or lowering the volume of flights, point to the desperate need for high levels of air traffic flow, and without it, modern civilisation as we know it is essentially doomed, or at the very least, taken back to some pre-historic, pre-globalisation, pre-everything that ever matters in this world kind of era. But, realistically speaking, this small taste of a post-oil, post-climate change world actually isn’t quite the disaster we were warned it would be. In a way, it’s kind of simple, and dare I say it…quite nice?

What the volcanic ash that has grounded flights throughout Europe has shown us is that, in fact, slowing down for a week isn’t actually so bad. Given the fact that, in London at least, the ash cloud has coincided with a heat wave and much-needed sunshine, there’s an aura of positivity that has engulfed the grounding of the flights. Knowing you can’t leave this island by plane may spell disaster for some people who just needed to get on that flight, but for everyone else, it’s been a nice wake-up call. The world hasn’t ended, the sky hasn’t fallen, and in a way, it’s kind of cosy knowing that we’re all stuck in this together.

Who knows, in the midst of iPads, iPods, Facebook, MySpace, MyFace, fast flow of info, and over-stimulation of modern life, culture of me, me, now, now, maybe not having your mangosteen delivered halfway across the world won’t actually kill you…let’s give it a try in making slow the new fast. Or at least, enjoy it for now.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Norton Feeler permalink
    May 12, 2010 7:07 pm

    That is some inspirational stuff. Never knew that opinions could be this varied. Thanks for all the enthusiasm to offer such helpful information here.

  2. January 29, 2011 10:32 pm

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