Tuesday, April 20

Self Portrait XVII

Today is one of those days that makes you think of England - puffy white clouds, blue skies, no planes. My friend James has been stranded in Moscow this past week so he flew from there to Rome then five trains later, home. Many others remain stuck like the British youth fencing team in Beijing who have been there since Thursday and told the next rescheduled flight to Briton is May 4th. Radio 4 reports that the team is training in the morning and organising cultural activities during the day. Hope they like noodles. Still, things are slowly improving and certain zones re-opening to commercial flights after Air France bravely flies one flight through the haze. KLM tries seven. Bingo! Let's fly, baby. For my part, I check London's weather quality daily which, strangely, remains pure. A little investigation provides a surprising piece of data: according to the Nordic Volcanological Institute at the University of Iceland, Eyjafjallajoekull is emitting 150,000 tons of carbon a day into the atmosphere compared to 344,109 tons by the European aviation industry (source: USGS, BBC, EEA). Over 200,000 tons of CO2 saved by grounding 60% of European airlines. Go figure. This is not entirely fair, though, since the analysis does not include sulphur or methane which are major contributors to the greenhouse effect but still. Recall that since the Industrial Revolution human beings have dumped one-half trillion tons of CO2 into our atmosphere and will do so again inside 25 years.

"Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people."
--Carl Sagan