London Skies


Image Credit : epeigne37

Yesterday evening, I was caught by the intensity of the London Sky – there was little air movement in most of the lower summer-heat space above the city, and virtually no cloud except very high strands and sprurls and bones and smears.

Most of the cloud was clearly the result of aeroplane contrails – numerable to small children and their educational grandparents on various buses.

As the sun began to set, or rather, as the Earth rolled to curve away from facing the sun, the sky took on the colour of bright duck egg blue with a hint of pale green, and the sprays of high contrail-cloud took on a glorious orange-fuchsia colour with flashes of gold, bronze and vanadium reds, fading slowly to chromium reds as twilight approached.

At a certain moment, I understood something – as I watched an aeroplane high up, make its way west to Heathrow, the angle of the sunset showed its contrail as a murky ink, messing up the rest of the clouds as it brushstroked its way along, with its slate and muddy hues. As I watched, other parts of the clouds began to appear brown and grey, and since I knew that most of the cloud was jet engine exhaust that hadn’t moved because of the lack of high winds, I finally realised I was watching dirt, high up in the troposphere – careless, unthinking toxic waste. The real nature of the aerosol trails showed itself for some time before darkness folded inwards – the true colour of the clouds was pollution.

My conclusion : London does not need more flying, but less. Don’t build any new runways, or any new airports, London, especially not in the Thames Estuary. You don’t need it. The price of kerosene may start to mount, and the cheapflight meme will be history. The case is always made that corporate high-flying needs must be serviced – but a very large proportion of current trends is not business class at all. We don’t need all this flying, all these filthy flights, all that nighttime roar, scream and boom.

Re-focus your focus. That’s today’s message. I’m at the junction on several crossroads, and I need to focus on the way ahead. People with no training in science and engineering are running the country, and don’t give enough time to their expert advisers. Those who should have influence, have little to none. Those who are older and wiser and been-round-the-blocker than many of those in governance and administration, are not paid attention to. Nearly ten years on from the ludicrous, naive, magical surrealist impossible-to-effect Energy White Paper “Our Energy Future” that I first read in February 2003, my country does not know how to formulate a successful energy policy or climate change policy – despite all the appeals to economists, management consultants, industry leaders and civil society efforts.

I have to concentrate. I have to give myself to something that means something – put all my efforts into the worthwhile, the progressive, the right kind of enterprise. I only have clues just now, hints of ideas, whispers of guidance, but I have a list of practical activities that I need to achieve on, to move forward to get wherever it is I’m going.

I’m doing this because I love the sky.
And I want there to be people around who can enjoy it forever – until the sun fades and dies.

I want the people that come after me and my time and my age and my race, to own the door to life, the opportunity to live,
To gaze up and see the mutating beauty and the bright passion.

I want there still to be people, still to be children,
Still to be crazily unhinged teenagers and babies and older people in their wisdom –
Their eventual state of grace –
To still be here with their chance to wonder at the sky.

I’m doing this because I love the trees –
The skin of Earth and the shelter of all life.

I’m doing this because I love the sound of tinkling rivulets and crashing waves –
and I want others to be able to enjoy it all after me, after I’m gone;
To still be here, to still have trees and streams here,
To have an abundant Earth, not a barren one, like Mars.

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