On Monday, April 19 I was supposed to go to Heathrow aiport and to fly to Seattle, where I would participate as a speaker in the biannual conference organized by the AABS (Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies) and to give a presentation on my paper “Political economy of economic reforms in Latvia: promises, consequences and perspectives”. But at 6am I learnt that it just wont gonna happen. Flight was canceled and eventually the earliest chance to get a flight to Seattle was just today, April 21. To be honest, I even did not try to rebook my flight, because 1) who knows, when the airports will be reopened, 2) who knows for how long, 3) and what if by eventually opening the air space risks would be underestimated, 4) i just don’t feel like flying wherever it would be, 5) i was offered to receive refund of my ticket.
Next Friday I have planned a short weekend trip to Norway. Let’s see what happens.
Ok, but what I wanted to talk about here, is this little and beautiful country Iceland and a little bit beyond that.
Though I am a bit sad that I could not go to Seattle and I can imagine that misery being stuck somewhere without chances to get home, I am a bit naughty and in a way, it think, this chaos is quite fair. In a way all this chaos and mess mostly involving middle/ high-income people of the developed world seemed to me a bit deserved and desired. Nobody has died, as far as I know, but i think, this was a great prophylactic measure against habits to take things for granted in the developed countries.
that feeling of superiority what humans has is admirable but yet also with limits unfortunately. There are limits how far humans can use and abuse nature and universe. We want to run faster than time and be smarter than nature, but at some point we will lose. The sooner we understand that, the bigger chances for us are to stay on this planet longer and be friends with Mother Nature.
I don’t think and i doubt, this volcano eruption is and can be a result of human action. I guess, that’s a natural process. But, what I see in this case now is this tremendous intolerance of humans against nature. We don’t want to accept compromises with nature and we don’t want to be limited by nature.
But exactly this is driving us into the big issues of climate change and financial crisis etc.
With recent financial crisis in mind I have heard some saying that Iceland was supposed to give UK cash not ash back (Iceland is supposed to pay back British and Dutch deposits lost in Iceland’s banks), but i think, this is a nice revenge. Icelandic people through their referendum could not stop its government to take their taxpayers’ money and pay back debts of Icesave to British and Dutch savers. 93% of Iceland’s voters said No, but at the end of the day Iceland will anyway have to find ways to pay back about EUR 3.8bn. This is a lot. A LOT. Why taxpayers have to pay to those who were trying to gamble with virtual money? Wasnt that their own risk to keep in mind that in gambling you can not only win, but also lose? Obviously, volcano ash is not affecting only those gamblers, but I really really like this moment, when we are stopped by nature urging us to stop, calm down and think a bit.
British get worried that soon they may run out of food – exotic fruits etc, but hey – havent you noticed that your own farmers are struggling to compete with apples from South Africa, cucumbers from Spain etc. Is it efficient? Cant we really live without those complicated and costly logistics schemes to transport all these good from the other side of the world while a farmer just 10 km from our house is struggling to sell his production? I think, again, this case is reminding us to reconsider establishment of local food production/consumption chains which would require much less transportation, ensure faster way from producer to consumer and after all – we would be more friendly to nature.
Globalization is driving us into scary global interdependence which in situations like this – when Mother Nature wakes up and shows us her angry face – will cause tragedies on global scale.