‘O Earth, Pale Mother!

To many of us, the fear of flying is concrete: We are haunted by how many parts of such an immensely complicated machine as a modern plane have to function smoothly in order for the plane to remain in the air–one small lever breaks somewhere, and we spiral downwards…

When one starts to think how many things can go wrong, one cannot but experience total and overwhelming panic. Is it not something similar to what we in Europe experienced as Eyjafjallajökull erupted? The fact that a cloud from a minor volcanic eruption in Iceland–a small disturbance in the complex mechanism of life on the Earth–can bring to a standstill the aerial traffic over an entire continent is a reminder of how, with all its power to transform nature, humankind remains just another species on the planet Earth.

The socioeconomic impact of such a minor outburst is due to our technological development (air travel)–a century ago, such an eruption would have passed unnoticed. Technological development makes us more independent from nature. At the same time, at a different level, it makes us more dependent on nature’s whims.

[Extract. Appeared in In These Times, on June 17th, 2010. (full text).]