Ashes to ashes

All things considered, I really can’t complain. I’m stuck in a hotel room thousands of miles from home, no way to get back to the family and normal life, with no end in sight. Looking at my last little package of Starbuck’s Via instant coffee. And my last pair of clean underwear.

On the other hand, I’m not festering on a cot among thousands of despairing unbathed travelers in some cavernous central European airport with nothing but stale pretzels for sustenance. I’m in a comfortable room at the Sheraton hotel in the spectacular city of Stockholm. With internet connection, and a group of compatriots in the same boat. And plenty of bars nearby. So things could be decidedly worse.

Which is nice, because I could be here for quite a long time. And the time on my hands offers a chance for reflection — this is one of those rather sobering reminders of just how fragile the architecture of our global society really is. One largish volcanic eruption (an “act of God” in the parlance of insurance companies) and the circulatory system of global society grinds to a screeching halt. A thought that comes to mind frequently these days as one consider the likely consequences of various natural and less natural incidents that might throw, as they say, a spanner into the works of our well-oiled machine. Another well-aimed terrorist strike. Some precocious teenage hacker in Kazakhstan penetrating the firewall of some uber-server and crippling the internet. Et cetera.

From today’s New York Times:

Some travelers took drastic measures to return home. John Cleese, the British comic actor who was part of the Monty Python troupe, found himself stranded in Oslo. He hired a Mercedes taxi to drive more than 900 miles from Oslo to Brussels, where he hoped to get a train to London, said one of his agents, Dean Whitbread. Three drivers took turns at the wheel and the fare came to about $5,000, he said.

Alas, that option is not available to me. Even if I had $5000. I’m starting to think about fishing trawlers headed west . . .

About Emmett Duffy

I am a Natural Patriot and an ecologist with expertise in biodiversity and its importance to human society. My day job is Professor of Marine Science at the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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8 Responses to Ashes to ashes

  1. Lars says:

    Hi Emmett,

    Hope you can get back home soon. It’s incredible and evident how dependent we are on fast energy-consuming transport really.

    The SEM workshop I’m hosting with Jarrett might also be in danger.

    So what brought you to the fine city of Stockholm? It’s my home town and I do miss it from time to time.

    Cheers, Lars

  2. Emmett Duffy says:

    Hi Lars– sorry I missed you! I was here last week for Swedish Research Council review of funded biodiversity research. It was a great week, and Stockholm is a wonderful place. So my being “marooned” here has been a bit like a vacation (though without the family, which was not the same). I am booked on a flight out tomorrow and airspace is now clear over Stockholm as far as I know. Fingers crossed!

    I hope that your SEM workshop goes on as scheduled – it is a great idea. I look forward to hearing about it from Althea. Best wishes.

  3. jebyrnes says:

    Heck, if you’re still stuck in the backlog by the time it starts…

  4. alex says:

    Heck, if you’re still stuck in the backlog by the time it starts…

  5. Adrian says:

    Now that it’s June, presumably you got back–what’s up with your new natural garden? What are your thoughts about the BP oil gusher? I hope you won’t give up on your blog.

  6. Sergio says:

    And these ashes did not reach to Spain! 😉 Thanks a Godness!!!

  7. asher says:

    Heck, if you’re still stuck in the backlog by the time it starts…

  8. Sally says:

    I was hoping that “this is a test” on my blogroll meant you’d be coming back to blogging. I like the new template… look forward to more from you one of these days. Best…