That hasn't changed. I'm not saying air travel is so bad that nobody should do it, I'm just saying that Richard, bless him, is an outspoken chap considered untouchable by many, and that his relentless voicing of his opinion on the environment is starting to get under my skin a little. You don't talk to people about fire safety while you set alight to their trousers, do you? Again, sorry Richard, but you're doing it wrong.
Now, what I failed to offer in my open letter was an alternative. My friend Melody Fletcher from www.deliberateblog.com asked me if there really was an alternative, and she deserves a thoughtful answer, plus if I come up with an alternative solution where people can still fly between destinations at 500mph while causing very little pollution I'm going to be richer than Dickie boy, so I'd better get started!
Here is the challenge. People love to travel by air. Me included. We have spent just over a century perfecting the art of air travel, and we have come a long way. People are still with us now who started their lives having to travel across oceans in a steam powered liner, spending weeks at sea between ports. That same person can now sit at home and book a ticket to travel in air conditioned comfort at eight tenths of the speed of sound, while munching peanuts, watching the latest movies and being whisked to their destination in hours, not days or weeks. That my friends, is progress. However, progress has it's price.
An airliner, in order to operate as efficiently as possible, needs to go fast. A jet engine works better the faster it goes, so to go very fast indeed you need to get out of the way of most of the air that slows you down. That means getting yourself very high (No, not in that way Richard).
At 35,000 feet you have already left behind most of the air, and you are in an environment that is utterly hostile to life. That engine out there on the wing is sucking in enough air every second to fill St Paul's Cathedral. It's mixing it with kerosene, burning it, and blasting the choking, poisonous results out of the back. Airliners have become very efficient compared to their early forbears in the 50's and 60's but it is still a brutal, polluting way to move a piece of metal and carbon fibre. Richard doest really care, because it makes him astoundingly rich. In Richard's mind there is a very big sweeping brush, and a very big rug to sweep the rubbish under.
So what are the alternatives? (This is where I get rich) ............
Oh bugger. There aren't any good ones.....
Stay with me though....
What can I do?
Basically I'm a tiny little speck of a human with a tiny (but heartfelt) little blog, and about as much influence in the wider global community as an ant with agoraphobia.......
Hairy Richard isn't going to listen to me, nobody is going to give up their foreign holidays, and we will carry on regardless. Fair enough, I can live with that. I have my plans!
As we move further into the 21st century, fuel will become more scarce. As my little boy gets older, in his lifetime he will see electric vehicles become more commonplace, but only at the pace industry decrees as they squeeze money out of us for expensive and dwindling fuel. The technology will eventually appear and bring us batteries with longer duration and more power, but only over time. They don't want us having that stuff while there is still money to be made on fossil fuels right?
So that is cars sorted.....
Aircraft are a different matter. It's all about weight you see. Batteries are heavy, aircraft need to be very light. That 747 looks heavy, but it isn't. Not really. For the size of it, it's incredibly light! Solar powered aircraft can't work in size at the moment, well certainly not 747 size anyway, not with the technology we have, they still need heavy batteries so we continue to rely on fossil fuels, and yet again as the supply dwindles they charge us more for it.
What could happen?
The way it looks to be going, is that we're getting there with our road vehicles very very slowly, it's too slow to make any real difference, but as I said, there's still lots of money to be made on fossil fuels.
Aircraft will get there eventually with some dramatic and as yet unknown technology breakthrough, but not while powerful people can still make money on fossil fuel!
So this how it's going to be. We're going to pay more and more for fuel, travel by the means we know now will become increasingly expensive, as is always the case with big demand and limited supply.
Get it into your heads now, oil is running out (43 years at the most optimistic prediction).
We will in finally get to a point where our current ideas about travel are ruining us financially, and we will stop travelling. The world will become a bigger place for us again.
We will continue our ruinous pollution of the environment, because that's how we are. It has been proved time and time again throughout history, that we use all the natural resources in a place and then we move on. Except that we no longer have anywhere else to move on to. Yet.
So the world will get more polluted, Politicians will ask us to fight with a ferocity you haven't even seen yet over oil, and we will get to a point where we no longer have a planet worth living in.
Is this being positive?
Where is the positivity in all this? This is Positive Paradise isn't it? Well yes it is, but some things can not be labelled positive or negative, some things just are.
You and I can recycle all we like, we can stop travelling, by road, rail, sea, and air. We can buy a bike, we can live frugally and be be a paragon of green virtue, but it won't make any difference. We will always consume something.
There are now so many of us that if we all lived as frugally as we possibly could, we would still be eating away at our resources in an unsustainable way. We the developed nations could revert to a much simpler way of life, even have it forced upon us, but there is not enough space, not enough land, it's too hard to govern, it's too revolutionary a change. There's simply no appetite for it.
So we will carry on. We will pay lip service to the environment, pathetically recycling, being green and being frugal with fuel. We will pollute, destroy, overgrow, and eventually out of necessity we will move on. When our planet is a polluted stinking husk, sucked dry of every resource, we will move on to another pristine paradise and do the same there.
The only question is will our current planet take the initiative and destroy us before we destroy it?
We need our imagination
What are we to do then? What can we possibly do to play our part in moving on to that new planet, or with some truly gigantic effort, save ours? I suggest starting with some ideas.
We need some really big ideas.
Maybe if we stopped killing each other that would be a good start. How many great ideas may have been lost in the trenches of the western front? or in the concentration camps of Europe, or the Iraqi deserts, or the mountains of Afghanistan?
Out there right now, maybe in poor slums or rich suburbs, tower blocks or villages, battlefields or business meetings, there exist people who will have great ideas. Ideas that will bring us new technology, massive leaps in potential, new energy sources. Things that haven't yet occurred to us in our wildest dreams.
This is what will save us. Our one great gift is our capacity to think great thoughts, and to use them for good. This and only this will be our salvation.
You don't need a shiny suit and a cape to save the world, all you need to do is sit on your bum! So stop, sit down, and start dreaming.
So you just carry on recycling, jetting off on holiday, pedalling your bike, driving your car, eating your burger, making something new out of the wrapper, because what will be will be. If we are to die out on a sun baked festering rock, it will happen. If we are to have the ideas that will save what is left of our earth and move on with harsh lessons learned for the future, then that will happen too. We are nature, and nature finds a way.
Relax......meditate......chill out......drift off......
Ideas are everything, they are the currency of our brightest imagined future.
Maybe one day soon, someone, somewhere, maybe the most unlikely person, will sit down and drift off into an amazing daydream, and on that day an answer will arrive that will save humanity.
Here's to that great day!