Monday, 19 April 2010

Life in the air-age

"Jets at dawn trail across the sky
Silver birds writing words for airman's wives
Who down below hang the washing out to dry
Frilly briefs and flying helmets in a line

Jets at dawn, writing in the sky
Silver planes
(Vapour trails)...
"

Jets At Dawn (Bill Nelson)


I like the aeroplane free skies that we are experiencing at the moment. Life feels somehow different, almost eerie. As a child born into the jet age, and in particular brought up in East Anglia, I have always known planes in the skies above where I live. In the early days this was due to a number of operational RAF camps housing either our home-grown squadrons or squatters from the USAF. Now, whilst there is still a certain amount of military traffic, civil aviation most definitely dominates the skies. So this current phenomenon is something new to me.

Clearly it is sad for those that have been stranded. Even more importantly it is sad and possibly tragic for those whose livelihoods currently depend on air freight or air travel. If this goes on much longer it is going to have major economic consequences. Regardless of the rights or wrongs of all the air traffic that we generate, when stopped suddenly it is bound to have an effect on trade and the world's finances. My big fear is that when this is over, as is surely will be at some point soon, we won't actually learn from it. We will continue to use ecessive amounts of air travel and freight. What we should be doing is thinking about ways to cut back on our aeroplane dependency. This is not going to be an isolated event.

Whilst we might never see disruption to flying like this again in our lifetime I'm convinced that other major events that challenge our lifestyles are bound to happen. Despite what detached right-wingers and pseudo-libertarians might think climate change is a reality. A reality that we need to face up to and start coming to terms with. Before too long we are going to witness and suffer from various other environmental extremes and catastrophes, many of which will be of 'Biblical proportions'. We need to change the way we live and how and what we consume. Wake up world!

"You can leave me in the air age if you like
But I'd dearly love to go back to my own time....

Life in the air age, isn't all the brochures say...
Life in the air age, it's too dangerous to stay...
Life in the air age, airships crashing every day into the bay...

Life in the air age, it's all highways in the sky...
Life in the air age, all the oceans have run dry...
Life in the air age, it's grim enough to make a robot cry...
"
Life in the air age (Bill Nelson)

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