When the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull erupted on
Wednesday, few anticipated just how global the repercussions would be.
Nearly a week later, the eruption's massive ash plume is still grounding
much of the air travel in Europe. But the ongoing effects are not
limited to air travel. European economies are suffering as a result, the
sulfur dioxide permeating the air is becoming a serious health concern,
global cooling remains a risk, and day-to-day governance must overcome
the inability of many leaders to make key trips. Here's what's
- Economies Shudder Worldwide The Washington Post reports,
"airline officials blasted widespread closures that they said were
overzealous and costing airlines 'at least $200 million a day.' ...
Fears were mounting, in particular, about the consequences for the
still-fragile economic recovery in Europe should the travel bans stretch
on for weeks. ... The tentacles of the crisis have already stretched
into the global supply chain. Auto factories in China that use
electronic parts flown in from Germany faced a sudden halt in shipments.
A logjam forming in the international diamond trade threatened to delay
the shipment of necklaces and wedding rings if flights are not resumed
between cutters in India and dealers in Antwerp, Belgium."
Climate Change Worsens Volcanic Threat CleanTechnica's Susan Kraemer warns, "the next decades could see more
volcanic activity in regions such as Iceland that are now under ice.
Climate change could spark off more volcanic eruptions in the now frozen
volcanic rim regions, Alaska, Patagonia and Antarctica and Iceland says
Dr Carolina Pagli, at Leeds University; one of the authors of the
research. As ice melts above volcanic rocks they are able to expand to
turn into magma more readily as pressure from above is reduced."
vs. Humans on Greenhouse Gases Wondering how much of an effect
volcanoes have on climate change by their release of greenhouse gases?
"The short answer is: none," writes TreeHugger's Pablo Paster. The planet's volcanoes
put 200 million tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every
year. But humans produced 28 trillion tons in 2006 alone. That means
humans produce 140,000 times as much greenhouse gas as volcanoes.
Crippling Dependence on Airplanes The Washington Post's Anne Applebaum muses, "we
rely on air travel for far more things than we usually imagine. Things
such as supermarkets -- all that fresh fruit -- and florists. Things
such as symphony performances, professional soccer matches and
international relations. In fact, 'European integration,' as we have
come to understand it, turns out to be utterly dependent on reliable air
travel. ... Skeptics who thought the European single market would never
function because there would be no labor mobility in Europe have been
proved wrong. But if, as some are predicting, European air travel were
to become unreliable indefinitely all of this would change."
Had we taken steps already to redesign our
economy according to the principles of sustainable development, the
grounding of our air fleet would have been far easier to take. There
would already be affordable, high-speed direct rail links between all
major European cities. Businesses would be equipped with
state-of-the-art videoconferencing facilities and making fuller use of
the formidable communications and information resources of the internet.
Aircraft would be more efficient. Airlines would be paying duty on fuel
in the same way that car drivers do, changing the economics of travel
in a way that favoured more sustainable alternatives. Citizens would be
used to holidaying closer to home.
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