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What does the New
Year have in store? I am no prophet, no seer, and no possessor of a crystal
ball. Certainly no Nostradamus. I can only guess what might be ahead, and my guess
is no better, and quite possibly worse, than yours.
Steering clear of
Politics (especially post-Brexit ones), I should concentrate on what’s in store
for us Silver Travellers. What might happen in the field of national and
One of the main
trends of 2020 is that destinations will push back against the pressure of
tourism popularity, fighting to maintain their true character. It is, or should
be, instinctive to welcome visitors, not only through politeness, but in the
knowledge that they create jobs and income. But it is equally instinctive to
get annoyed when they threaten to overwhelm you.
I guess it is
inevitable that the campaign against climate change will continue to gain
strength in the coming months. My main prediction is that protestors and
demonstrators will continue to attack soft targets, such as airlines and their
They do not listen
when you point out that airlines account for a mere 2% of global CO2 emissions.
And that data centres pump out twice as much. Most people have never heard of
data centres, though they know about Amazon and Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter, and have shopped on
line. The internet sucks up information and stores it in several thousand
worldwide locations, all of which have to be air-conditioned. Those are data
centres. And, I repeat, they are pumping out twice as much CO2 as all the
But it is easier
to have a pop at the softer target of airlines, even though they are cutting
and offsetting their carbon footprints. Aircraft manufacturers are introducing
lighter airframes and engines are becoming more efficient. Though it won’t
happen in 2020, aircraft will eventually be powered by electricity. Cargo
planes at first, then larger passenger aircraft.
In fact, electric
planes are already flying in the USA – light aircraft used by flying
uncertain future of our planet is very likely to be at the forefront of our
minds in 2020, and beyond, my prediction is that science and technology will
produce solutions for most of the problems that face us. As evidence, I cite The
Great Horse Manure Crisis of 1894.
At the end of the
19th century, some 50,000 horses were used to draw cabs and
carriages and omnibuses in London. Many more hauled carts, drays and
wagons. Hundreds of people earned a
living from tips as they plied their trade of crossing sweeper, brushing away
the odoriferous tide. They were about as successful as Canute had been.
London had a horse
poo problem. The Times forecast that “in 50 years every street in London will
be buried under nine feet of manure.”
We know it didn’t
happen. What happened was the invention of the internal combustion engine and
the appearance of the ‘horseless carriage’. The horse manure problem was solved
at a stroke. Of course, the Victorians weren’t to know that motor vehicles
would produce other pollution problems, but science and technology is solving
(I’ve not the time
to go into details, but, here in the UK, electric fuel cells are being
developed for motor vehicles that are far ahead of the ones in current use. A
car whose fuel cell currently provides a range of 350 miles would be able to
cover at least 1,500 miles if it was fitted with the new version.)
I said I’d steer clear of Brexit, but must mention that, as far as travelling to and within Europe is concerned, 2020 will see absolutely no difference in the situation.
transition period, until 31 December, the old rules and regulations apply, and
even afterwards, when we are well and truly ‘out’, those European countries who
rely on tourism to boost their budgets will be taking measures to smooth our
path. Extra immigration gates at their
airports, no visa requirements, etc.
So, my prediction for travelling in 2020 is that we shall continue to do so in the style to which we have become accustomed. I hope we shall do so in a spirit of discovery and adventure and with an understanding of the effect our journeys are having on the climate of the planet, the customs and cultures of the countries we visit, the welfare of our hosts. We shall, in short, travel responsibly.
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