Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Stormy Weather Disrupts Travel Yet Again

The severe storm that grounded hundreds of flights in eastern North America the past few days illustrates why travelers should always expect the unexpected. And why we should all be concerned.

Such severe weather focuses attention (and rightly so) on the plight of those directly affected by things like power outages, dangerous road conditons, etc., yet there are thousands more around the world who,
though not in immediate danger, are also directly affected. Some of these people are called Those Awaiting Courier Shipments, some are called Businesses Forced to Close, and so on. You get the idea.

And a large number of these people are called Airline Passengers, and they may be halfway around the world from the storm. Yet as their flights to or through the affected area are cancelled, there's a domino effect around the world, and they scramble to make alternate arrangements or sleep in the airport. Lucky ones are given vouchers for meals or hotel rooms.

All these things cost money. They cost the traveler money in additonal travel costs; they cost the airlines more in operating costs: Airlines can only hope to make any money when their planes are in the air. When planes are not in the air, and when the airlines are handing out vouchers to partly compensate delayed passengers, airlines are hemorrahging big bucks. And the additonal operating costs have to come from somewhere. Guess who from? The traveler.

As severe weather seems to becoming the norm, more frequent travel delays have to mean higher travel costs. And recent studies indicate that jet exhaust contributes to global warming and severe weather.

It seems to me that what's needed is a new paradigm for long distance travel. Maybe larger planes are not the answer. Maybe global warming is a vital concern, not just an interesting, though inconvenient, anomaly.

I'm not sure I'm communicating my concerns as effectively as I'd like. I'm not even sure I know precisely what my concerns are. I just know that severe weather is causing me, the intrepid traveler, to arrange my trips to avoid bad weather seasons, and bad weather destinations.

Like the southeastern U.S. from June to Novemeber. Ditto for the Caribbean, and Central America. And Asia. And the list can go on and on.

By choosing to travel mainly from November to early June, I am already altering my lifestyle around the effects of global warming. This parallels my cutbacks on car use as a repsonse to high gas prices; I take fewer road trips. I have to wonder: How long before we are altering our diets, our food supply, our farms and our homes?

Maybe adapting coping strategies vis. global warming should be our only focus. And maybe the world will never be 'normal' again.

Gosh! Not sure where all this came from. Thanks for indulging me.