Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thoughts on Traveling, Volcanic Eruptions and Mother Earth

Happy Earth Day - celebrate for a lifetime!

I think it is most appropriate that for the week or so preceding Earth Day that Mother Nature reminded us of her power. While travelers around the world had to deal with flight delays and cancellations as well as commerce being disrupted, the Icelandic Volcano eruption gave the world a pause. What seemed like an eternity to those stuck in airports was really just a few days in an era of constant flights when a part of the globe had a breath of no air traffic. Travel by rail swelled and some people took the cue to change their state of mind and enjoy some extra time wherever they were.

Airline companies have been complaining about how much money per day they lost and about undue flight restrictions, but all would-be travelers I have spoken with agree - as possibly inconvenient or uncomfortable having plans disrupted might be, they would rather be on the ground in one piece than 30,000 feet in the air with a frozen airplane engine - that is what most would call a no-brainer. And if the airlines are wanting to utilize the tenuous risk-assessment model, I suggest they leave that people-unfriendly calculation to the nuclear power industry (where it shouldn't be employed either), and stick to common sense as I am sure anything they have lost is still far less than what a major accident would have cost them.

In New England you learn a bit to live with the mentality of succumbing to Mother Nature. When there is a big snow or ice storm and driving is precarious, you hunker down and enjoy the respite. If you try to persevere in spite of it you usually end up in a ditch -- or worse.

Travelers, businesses and most everyone can heed the lesson and open their minds to a more creative way of looking at the world and what we are"entitled" to as a group of world citizens who feel they should be able to travel whenever and wherever they want. In this false world we have created of instant gratification, and the expectation of instant gratification, maybe we need more pauses. Maybe we should have certain weeks in the year when there is no air traffic (I can hear the screams now) and give ourselves and Mother Earth a literal and figurative breather, allowing for the possibility of changing how we treat the planet and each other.

As more of us humans lose touch with the reality of Mother Nature and her forces and are under the misguided notion that we reign supreme over the earth - think again. The Earth has been here far longer than we have and will surely be here long after we have destroyed ourselves. Whether we humans debate it, ponder it, like it or not -  the Earth does have dominion over us, not the other way around. Thank goodness.

Photo courtesy of NASA:

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