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19 Apr 2010 05:04:08

Could the volcanic ash cloud be a wake-up call for the UK?

Could the volcanic ash cloud be a wake-up call for the UK?
Since last Thursday, TV screens across Britain have been filled with images of disgruntled holidaymakers stuck in airports, unable to return to the UK. The reason; a cloud of volcanic ash has entered European airspace making it dangerous for aircraft to fly.

It is estimated that this ash has grounded 63,000 flights in the region, the Times reports. And in turn this has saved around 1.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from being pumped into the atmosphere.

To put this figure in an environmental perspective, the newspaper explains that this is equivalent to the level of CO2 emitted from a developing nation over an entire year.

This may not be a surprise, as Europe is one of the worst culprits for aviation-related emissions. But now many people may be questioning the sustainability of a society which relies so heavily on air travel as a form of transportation.

Fears are being raised about the potential problems which could arise if deliveries of fresh fruit and vegetables are unable to reach the UK.
Around 50 percent of the country's food is imported from abroad, with supplies coming from 25 different countries.

As early as Friday some of the major supermarkets were warning that they could face a shortage in their supplies of some foodstuffs if air traffic restrictions were not lifted over the next couple of days.

However, while people in the country may have to manage without their five-a-day for a while, this causes even greater issues for the developing nations that export the goods, which must stand-by and watch them rotting in their containers.

Further to this, the transportation of perishable medical supplies and drugs, such as bone marrow, is being held up, delaying potentially lifesaving treatments.

Nats, the UK's air traffic control service, has said that services will be restricted until at least 01:00 BST on April 20th, although the backlog of flights means it could be some time until the situation is back to normal.

The question is will the authorities learn their lesson and use the event as a wake-up call to address Britain's reliance on air travel as a form of transportation? Or once normal service resumes will the issue be simply swept under the carpet?ADNFCR-1235-ID-19729180-ADNFCR

Discussion Thread  

20 Apr 2010

Whilst I agree that this situation serves to highlight both the fragility of how our society operates today and the immediate consequenses on everyone when something goes wrong, I expect this will all be quickly forgotten once services return to normal and travellers become comfortable that airlines can be depended on to whisk us around the world on business, holiday, etc. After all, why would we give up the freedom and affordability that air travel offers unless there is a good reason to do so?

The wider question I have is whether the Volcano eruption merely is an 'act of god' or whether there is any link between our changing climate?

pg wrote:

20 Apr 2010

So, SEC you're wondering if the volcanic ouotburst is mother Nature having a go back !? It's an interesting point and one that would have all the denyers laughing, but who knows...the bigger fear is that from the little I have read to date there is a much bigger and angrier Volcano located up the hil from this one that has a reputation of playing Big Brother to the smaller one...when the Big Brother blows we will certainly know about it...last time was late 18th Century by all accounts and up to 20,000 died - is that also a Darwinesque scenario? Not so much survival of the fittest but survival of the fastest (out of there). I quite like the idea of the planet fighting back but the future may not be bright, some say it isn't bright anyway but to be shoved in the back by nature as we meander down the path of destruction is alarming!

Discussion Thread  


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