Sunday, April 18, 2010
On ash clouds...
The anxiety currently being expressed about the Icelandic volcano ash, and its adverse effect on air travel, has got my attention. While only a few have apparently speculated about this, one has to wonder what would happen if this thing continues for weeks, months or years?
For the time being, the media seems to be focused almost entirely on the disruption to air travel both between the US and Europe and within Europe itself. But it makes me wonder what other things might be effected.
Of course the first thing that comes to mind is what is happening to the lungs of the 200 million people in the wake of this thing. That can't be good. And while it is understandable that ash in a fanjet engine at 30,000 feet above the Atlantic might have grave consequences, I wonder about other machinery too.
I'm actively wondering if the cruise ship industry is paying attention. It would seem that if this thing goes on for weeks, months or years, that there will be a need for some kind of alternate transportation across the Atlantic. The option of taking the Orient Express to Asia and a plane from there to the US is likely not to be an option. But a return to transatlantic ships and intercontinental trains does hold some romantic notions for me. But then I get thinking that volcanic ash is probably not too good for cruise ship engines or locomotives either.
Of course, most business can continue to function with telephones, e-mail and video conferencing. But the travel industry isn't going to like this, and I had completely forgotten about the postal and express shipping industry. All the more to wonder about that global economy thing. Local subsistence is sounding smarter and smarter.
So, get the Queen Mary 2 spiffed up and get it ready to take on the masses. I'm sure a four day passage to NY would be preferable to sleeping on the floor in Heathrow for another night. Update: Apparently, things are going well for Cunard due to all this - April 22nd passage on two ships is all booked!
Image from Financial Times ft.com.