Flying Into the Volcano Dust

It's been front page news for a week, the Icelandic volcano sending up clouds of volcano ash, shutting down air traffic across Europe for more than a week and still disrupting it as this is being written. Our current course on addressing climate change (i.e., inaction) is the same as if air travel had just continued on as usual through the volcanic ash. When planes started falling out of the sky or landing with damaged engines, we could then get a good sense of the risk.

We did not continue business as usual with air travel in Europe when faced with a real but uncertain risk. In contrast, we barrel along--business as usual--changing our climate knowing that there are huge risks involved. Risks, in fact, far larger than those posed by the volcano and air travel thus far.

If the risk were only 1:1000 that a flight would crash due to volcanic ash, that would result in about two dozen crashes per day. We know the risk of catastrophic climate change is orders of magnitude greater than that, yet we continue to do very little to curtail our emission of greenhouse gases.

What is wrong with us?

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