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Sunday, 18 April 2010

A lesson in sustainability

It is incredible sometimes to watch my mind and see how it gets caught up in the drama of so many events - my sister and her problems, issues relating to work, and more recently of course, the Icelandic volcano, which seems to be affecting us all in one way or another.

Several of my acquaintances are stranded abroad - some in Portugal and some in Spain. One of my work colleagues husband's is stuck in Madrid, where he works (he spends his time commuting between London and Madrid as some sort of computer boffin for a city bank). She has only recently returned to work after suffering a slipped disc, and is missing him terribly, as I am sure he is her.

I have been racking my brain since this whole thing began as to what it could all be about, and quite what mother nature is trying to show us all. There has to be something with a crisis of this magnitude. One things for sure - whatever or whoever the lesson is for it is clearly not for the Icelanders, as the wind is blowing the cloud away from them, their international airport remains open, and life there, apart from in the immediate vicinity of the volcano, continues as normal.

Knowing that the universe works on an economy of the energy, and the amount of energy that clearly lies behind this blast, it is evidently a lesson of great magnitude for us all.

All sorts of scenarios are coming into play - the possibility of airlines and hotel companies going bankrupt, small business owners who are stuck abroad also going bankrupt, those affected raking up huge bills and getting into debt, food and other goods from overseas upon which we have learnt to depend, being unable to reach us and the suppliers consequently losing out. What this means is difficult to say, but it is clear that many things need to change.

The culture of cheap overseas travel and the way in which the industry has bloomed in the past 20 or so years clearly cannot be sustained environmentally. The idea that we should have access to fruit and veg from overseas outside of its season also cannot be sustained. It may be good (arguably) for the growers as it means more jobs, but would they not be better off growing the food to feed their own populations? I mean, potatoes being grown in the Egyptian desert, asparagus being flown in from Peru - what next?

Maybe we need to start thinking a little more in terms of self sufficiency, growing our own food and providing our own goods, and allow other countries to do the same. The lesson will differ for each individual that is affected by this - perhaps my friends husband needs to rethink his job in Madrid and start to put his wife first, perhaps my friends in Portugal, as they said in an email earlier, need to acknowledge the fact that they should be flying less and trying to reduce their carbon footprint. When I go to Iceland myself in 11 weeks time (and I will be going), it will the first time I have flown since March 2004, when I went to Egypt. The helicopter to Lundy isn't quite the same.

I have to say though that the Icelanders have found a very neat way to alleviate their own financial woes, as interest in the country has mushroomed because of this, and all that foreign currency that will be coming in as a result of this interest will help pay their debts in no time!

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