Wednesday, April 21, 2010

If the lights went out

The recent eruption of Eyjafjallajökull and subsequent grounding of flights in the UK and other parts of Europe has led many to comment on the fragility of our existence in the face of natural phenomena. It's an interesting premise. Despite what we like to think, we have very little control over what goes on here on Earth. A while back, Discover Magazine did an article on ways the world could end, a little extreme, but a reminder of how fragile our existence is here.
Coming back to less apocalyptic thinking, many have commented on how the disruptions caused by the volcanic ash have been, in a way, beneficial. The CO2 emissions saved by grounding flights has vastly overshadowed the amount produced by the volcano. (200 million tonnes saved from flights vs. the 15 thousand tonnes pumped out a day from Eyjafjallajökull). Also, it's served as a wake up call to the wonder of cheap air travel. I fly a lot, but don't particularly like to. I'd very much like to travel at a slower pace, but the convenience and low cost of air travel has repeatedly pulled me away from other forms of transport. (Although 24 hours on a train from one end of Thailand to the other did remove a lot of the glamour of over-land travel for me).
On a more personal level, I'm using this to further justify my recent bushcraft interest. Just this weekend I managed to start a fire with my firesteel. Had to promptly extinguish the fire as open fires apparently aren't allowed in the area, but we got another fire going (using a lighter this time) in my hobo stove on our balcony. It had a slightly less than bushcrafty purpose: we made s'mores. Still, I feel as though greater independence from things that I cannot produce myself can only be beneficial, especially when coronal mass ejection could knock out our power grids with little or no warning.
Guess I'd better make sure all my batteries are fully charged. 

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