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Best Of Tnr 2008: The End Of Aviation

Bradford Plumer looks at the possibility of an "aviation apocalypse" and what it could mean for the global economy, immigration, and the planet: 

In an age when American consultants can commute weekly by air and return home to their spouses on the weekends, or when Manchester United soccer fans think nothing of hopping on a flight to follow their team for a quick game in Turin, it's almost impossible to imagine a world in which employers gave workers, say, three weeks off so that they could board a modern-day zeppelin and float home for the holidays. As even George Monbiot, the British environmentalist who has thundered most furiously about the need to downsize air travel in order to stave off drastic climate change, concedes, abandoning the age of mass aviation would be a hugely disorienting change. "It flies in the face of everything we have been encouraged to regard as progress," he has written. But the end of oil, or the urgency of global warming, or both, could well force that change upon us. Is that something our world, increasingly accustomed to its frenetic, globe-trotting pace, could handle?

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