All I Want for Christmas is for Al Gore to Go Somewhere Else
Britain is experiencing its coldest winter since record keeping began in 1910, with snow and ice closing London’s Heathrow airport and stranding half a million Christmas travelers, including your correspondent (I would like to celebrate the 60th wedding anniversary of some good friends). The Daily Telegraph reports:
- Forecasters warned that parts of Britain could see record low temperatures this week of -26C (-15F). Heathrow will experience lows of about -9C (16F) tonight and further snowfall is expected in the South East during the evening rush hour.
- Motorists continued to struggle. The M25 was closed in both directions for about six hours while drivers on the M40 in Oxfordshire suffered severe delays.
- Commuters were warned to expect treacherous conditions with thick ice and freezing fog today. Train passengers also face delays and cancellations, particularly in the North. Eurostar services between London and Paris have also been affected.
As bad as the weather is, a friend in the UK emphasizes that the real problem is worse: a new zero-tolerance for risk in Britain. Also from the Telegraph:
The airport cancelled all incoming flights on Sunday (December 19) after the authorities were unable to de-ice the taxiing areas and stands where planes are parked.
The runways are fine--only a few inches of snow fell at Heathrow--but the apron areas where the planes are parked are slippery and the workers might fall down, so the world's busiest international airport is closed. As my English friend commented by telephone earlier today, "two or three decades ago Heathrow would have stayed open and nobody would have really noticed the ice. You did what you had to do in those days. Not so much today."
My preferred explanation for the transportation paralysis gripping Northern Europe is the Gore Effect. However, like my friend I am concerned about the creeping zero-risk-tolerance mindset at work here. Do you see this sort of attitude creeping into the US, or is the Atlantic Ocean protecting us from this latest threat from Europe?