Monday, September 20, 2010

Boycott Aviation Now

I have followed a learning curve over the past months trying to understand the pending struggle with the aviation industry for the skies and our health. One thing is certain. Aviation is winning and without challenge.

There are many reasons for our complacency in the face of challenges that far exceed those created by other battles for the public good. One recent example was the unregulated tobacco industry. Leveling the playing field regarding the issues of tobacco took several decades and the battle is far from over. Smoking bans in public places is recent for many areas of the country. Smoking was allowed and accepted everywhere as recently as the 1980’s.

People liked to smoke and many remain addicted. Medical doctors endorsed their chosen brands in television ads. Educated people argued against scientific findings that revealed links to cancer and other life threatening maladies. The same rancor currently ensues over the matters of global climate change.

There are many examples of modern cultures blindly consuming and living with products that were later found to be carcinogens. Asbestos was once a modern and benign miracle product. Formaldehyde is another slightly obscure carcinogen that lingers in almost every modern household. Mercury is still pumped into children and forged into cavity ridden teeth.

And we should not forget lead. Much effort was made in the 1970’s and 80’s to rid our culture of this very dangerous element. Except for highly leaded fuel [avgas] that remains the standard fuel for general aviation.

Which brings me back to the subject at hand. What is so exceptional about aviation? Maybe because aircraft manufacturers are a major component of the military industrial complex? Maybe law makers are disproportionately wealthy and thus likely to be pilots or benefit from aviation in special ways? Maybe we all want to be ‘jetsetters’.

I have listened to several interviews of Bill McKibben, climate change environmentalist. Mr. McKibben, bless his heart, always mentions how many miles he’s traveled over recent periods of time. This is from an educated man that understands the ravages of global climate change yet does not sense the incongruency of his beliefs and actions. Maybe he believes his efforts are worth the cost and incongruency. Sounds like exceptionalism to me.

And then there is the culture itself. I recently read a major vacuum cleaner designer / manufacturer makes separate models for America. Know why? The American models are louder because Americans equate noise with power!

How bad is aviation? We know that even low levels of jet noise causes an elevation in blood pressure and hyper tension. We know exhaust from jet engines creates some of the deadliest carcinogens know to science. We know high levels of noise cause aggressive behavior. We know that tiny levels of lead can permanently damage a child’s brain. These are facts.

But what about the large communities in major cities that are blasted day and night by the noise and pollution of aviation. Is it simply a coincidence that areas of significant gang violence in Los Angeles fall beneath the flight patterns of LAX airport. Every major city has a similar relationship. Coincidence? Considering the many know facts related to health issues prompted by aviation can we really believe these are coincidences? Can a civilization afford to overlook these types of coincidences?

Aviation remains basically an unregulated industry with the punitive and well funded arm of the FAA defending and promoting the industry down to the most minuscule facility. Anytime there is a conflict between citizens and aviation there will always be the battle cry; ‘if the peasants cause trouble for aviation the FAA will step in and cancel any advances made.’

There are many examples of aviation exceptionalism. Ground citizens cannot identify individual aircraft as identification is not required to be visible from the ground. Even if you could discern the tail wing ID number FAA considers ownership information to be confidential. Hey, they are part of the military industrial complex, aren’t they?

Helicopters can fly anywhere they want. They can hover right over your house for hours and there is nothing any ground citizen can do.

This is just a small set of justifications for a Boycott Aviation Now effort.

What can be done to support sanity in our skies? We need to communicate with our neighbors, friends and coworkers. We need to write our newspapers and email news programs in an effort to educated a very illiterate public. Everyone needs to know how often aviation is supported by our purchases and decisions and what aviation means to our health and the health of our children.

We need to create a ‘bank’ of basic letters ready for personalizing and forwarding to all that will listen.

We need bumper stickers that say:



N ow