Historical Blips

30th September 2006 @ 4:04 pm
Flying, Travel, Transport, Economics, Climate, Environment and weblog
Gorgeous writing from Maciej about a flight from New York to Beijing over the North Pole.
"The unreality of jet travel continues to unsettle me. One moment you are in one place, and hours later you have crossed the most insuperable physical barriers by flying high in the atmosphere at nearly the speed of sound, and no one finds this unusual. The sun is over the wrong horizon, everything is different, but life goes on around you like nothing has happened."
I still find it unusual.

The view from an aeroplane window is number one on a very short list of things that I believe will never be tiresome. That air travel is so reliable and so routine strikes me as magic. We're in the middle of a blip in history where for just a few short decades the average altitude of a human being has been infinitesimally raised. The age of affordable consumer flight probably won't, and possibly shouldn't, continue throughout my lifetime. It's hard to see how we can justify it forever, such a significant environmental impact as it has.

We continue to build airports expecting two-to-tenfold increases in passenger numbers, depending on the expected trajectory of your economy. And yet, as the fuel becomes ever more precious and consumer flight declines, flying will once again become the exclusive domain of the rich and famous. The proverbial high-flyers will be the only true jetset left.