Monday 19 January 2009

Before we 'runway' with the wrong idea...

It seems that much of the sensible debate surrounding the proposed third runway at Heathrow involves questions of technological advance (with non-sensible debate failing to accept that without such advance the case for the third runway is almost impossible to make). Crucial to the argument of all those who support expansion, whilst accepting the dangers of spiralling levels of carbon emissions for the future of our planet, is the claim that new technologies will revolutionise aircraft. Examples of aeroplanes running on biofuels and so on allow that the new runway need not have the devastating environmental impact that critics of the scheme claim it will.

I am not quite as optimistic as those I describe above. But it does seem that they are right, in one area at least.

According to the UK Statistics Authority, in 2007 27% of flights to the UK and 13% of flights from the UK were made for business trips. And it seems to me that here the technological advances have already been made. They are, in fact, staring us right in the face. With the development of high speed internet connections and good quality webcams we have found the technology that negates the need for most business trips.

Now, I must confess that I have little understanding of the workings of business. I would therefore be very pleased if anyone better informed about such matters could let me know why meetings conducted with webcams over the internet are not pretty much as good as face-to-face meetings, given the environmental cost of the latter. And I would be equally pleased if those who do so would then join me in questioning why those business trips which do not meet this additional criteria are allowed to occur.

1 comment:

Calix said...

I totally agree Lewis.

I feel it's a real backwards step. Politicians often say we need to make sacrifices to our life-style to achieve our very ambitious targets, but this sends out the opposite message.

My personal view is that if this expansion had been proposed by the Conservatives nearly every single one of us would have straight away condemned it, but some of us are now making excuses whereas in fact we should stick to our principles.