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Old 04-21-2010, 04:28 AM   #1 (permalink)
Piwoslaw
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Location: Warsaw, Poland
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Svietlana II - '13 Peugeot 308SW e-HDI 6sp
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Volcano erupts on Iceland

As many of you have heard (and Europeans haven't heard about anything else) a cloud of ash from Iceland's Eyjafjallajoekull volcano paralyzed air travel over most of Europe for almost a week. Since last week, airspace over a large portion of Europe was closed due to the risk of dust and ash damaging engines. Air travel was not banned only over a few southern countries.

With each day, the media are talking more and more about the costs of the ban, how much money and time was lost by airlines and by passengers, who is responsible for this, blah, blah blah. But it's hard to find anyone talking about the good sides of this event: I'm sure that 5-6 days with no flying had a good effect on the environment and people (emissions and noise). I found this nice chart:



So, with a volcano spewing gasses and ash just upwind from us we're still getting better air with no planes overhead. But are we really?

Airplanes don't just fly around empty, they fly because they transport people and cargo. If people need to get from point A to point B and flying is no longer an option, then they take a car or train. I have no info on whether train traffic increased, but on Friday most car rental companies at Polish airports suddenly ran out of cars, many were rented for international travel. For long distances, a car with 1-2 people in it, driving furiously to make it in time, probably pollutes more than flying does (per person). Of course, some people took a train while others just cancelled their vacation and stayed home. I'm not even trying to estimate the fuel used for driving back and forth to the closed airport.

I read this morning that postal and freight companies are throwing their cargo onto every truck and van they can find and driving it frantically across Europe. No mention of trains, which are the best way to transport bulk cargo over long distances. A book, DVD, or iPod does not have to get to it's new owner overnight, they're not organs ready to be transplanted. But spedition companies only think in the faster, faster, faster! category. (For an exception, see High seas hypermiling: even giant ships are doing it (slowing way down to save fuel). I read on BBC this morning that produce from Kenya is now flown to Spain and then trucked to the UK (Volcanic ash: Tesco delivers Kenyan produce via Spain). Tesco says that they are "helping Kenyan farmers by allowing them to send flowers and fruit to Spain, and collecting there." Now, how eco is that? And who is being helped: Kenyan farmers, or Tesco's profit?

I'm sure that if the flight ban was permanent, then trains would be used more than they are now. Unfortunately, airports are opening back up and everyone will be going even faster! to make up for the lost time. Business will go back to usual and nobody will stop for a moment to think.

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Piwoslaw's Peugeot 307sw modding thread

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