A post-aviation worldApril 20th, 2010 by Iona
Via BBC: Could we live without flights?
I love the image at the top of this article. No, I really do; it’s gorgeously windswept, it reminds me of Shetland and other places marked by great distance. It’s an oddly bittersweet image, I think, but the article tends more to the sweet. It concludes that Britain would suffer in a world without air travel – it would suffer in terms of its tourism, food and business – but not as much as you might think. Which is interesting: it’s certainly interesting to learn that, for example, most of the tourism revenue in the UK comes from domestic holidaymakers, even if they don’t make up the bulk of the tourists, and for another example, that most of Britain’s food, even its fruit and vegetables, comes by ship, with figures of one and two percent given for the proportion of British food that is actually flown in.
But it’s a little unforgivable to then move on to the topic of people living near airports now getting more sleep, and conclude that everything in the garden is lovelier than expected in the post-aviation world. What about the people who didn’t arrive here head-first? If there were no more air travel, how could I ever go home – how could I ever attend a family wedding or visit a new baby or take my grandfather out for tea? How could you live in a world that had become so much more frightening, so much more implacably, devastatingly large overnight?
And more than that: we wouldn’t go anywhere, and the world wouldn’t come to us. Part of the reason Britain is not all-white, all-homogenous is air travel – people come, and work and dance and live and cook in new ways – and you can imagine that stopping, peeling away in layers from life as we know it until, as the BBC article notes, without even realising the implications, it’s 1950. Flying is wonderful, and it’s not just because of mangoes in supermarkets. It’s the reason there are people to buy them.