Anne Applebaum has a very interesting post at Slate on the impact of volcanic dust upon Europe. She illustrates briefly how the end of air travel in Europe as sent it back into the past--that the channel and the Atlantic seem much wider and the continent is now much longer.
But I wonder if this is just the past or is it the future? I have been wondering for quite some time what higher oil/gas prices will do to air travel. As we run out of the stuff, will air travel simply become too costly except for that which is truly, truly necessary? Will conferences, talks, interviews and other professional business be skyped (as some people presented via skype at a conference in NYC this past weekend)? I hope to spend a semester or year in Australia after my daughter goes to college and our pets depart, but will it be too late? Or will we be able to fly in and out but not around East Asia and the South Pacific as the costs of additional travel become too much?
So, our Icelandic volcano may not just be reminding us about the past but giving us a taste of things to come. That is, unless innovation gives us new energy sources that can fit on planes (I don't think we will be experimenting with nuclear powered aircraft again) or extends old ones.