Empty skies, happier people?

It’s Flashback Friday.  Every Friday we bring back a golden oldie article from yesteryear. A chance for you to re-read it and see if it is still relevant today!

Did the disruption to European airspace caused by the Eyjafjallajoekull (how on earth does one actually pronounce that?) volcano spewing out its ashes into the atmosphere of Sol 3 (Earth) change people?

There will be folks who have lived all their lives in the path of an approach to or departure from an airport runway and have known nothing beyond the noise of aircraft taking off or landing every 90 seconds or so. Broadly speaking this means that there is never silence. Just as the drone of one plane starts to disappear into the distance, so the drone of the next starts to get louder as it gets nearer. The drone isn’t just an audio event, it is a rattle in the air, a constant background vibration, an irritation. It never ceases. Add to this the fact that like efficient crop-sprayers, these jets are constantly dusting the humans below with the output of their engines.

So what difference has been noticed? It’s a bit too early to have much accurate data, but the first reaction appears to be the obvious complete lack of noise was most certainly noticed and the almost forgotten tension that it breeds forever into those below the flightpaths apparently disappeared allowing them to almost bask in the silence like taking a refreshing holiday. They were feeling an overwhelming sense of well-being.

Some however, couldn’t get to sleep at night. I suspect this is like having to learn to sleep away from the vibrations and noises of the womb.

But what of the health issues? Did the lack of the constant dusting with fuel or the 200,000 tonnes of CO2 every day made any difference to these ‘victims’? Again, it’s too early to say what is imagined and what is real, but asthma sufferers are reporting a period of less attacks, and people are saying they felt like they’d regained a strong sense of smell.

What would be interesting would be to see if mental health issues, aggression, libido, or senses of well-being had altered even further away (geographically) from the more obvious places directly under the approach flightpaths. It’s rare to see a sky without jet engine trails spoiling it somewhere, so that’s quite a large area! Obviously, where this is more dense (like over most of London), despite the noise being far less, maybe even undetectable, those below are still being dusted with all the engine output. All major cities have international airports. Were the crime rates, tolerance levels, rowdiness, and amounts of anti-social behaviour reduced whilst the sky was empty?

I’m guessing that our airspace would have to be a no-fly zone for quite a few months, maybe even years, before any sensible data would accrue. And we’d then also have to look at the health reaction to the ash falling on us from the volcano instead of the waste from the planes. This makes it far more complicated, maybe even quite impossible, to actually measure anything as we are replacing one sky borne ’influence’ with another.

I suspect that we haven’t heard the last of the concerns that the silent skies highlighted and returned to the public eye, and it’ll be interesting to separate fact from fiction as the different lobby groups roll out their ‘observations’ tuned to highlight their own pre-written agendas.

We have some interesting spin times ahead thanks to Mother Earth’s unpronounceable Icelandic volcanoes!