Things can go backwards as well as forwards. Now, I say this because we live in a society that is incredibly hypermobile. We are used to casual travel. We pop off to Beijing for a business meeting, for example. We’ve become incredibly dependent on that. But, human beings as a species have, through history, most of the time tended to be very tribal and have tended to associate their tribe with a piece of land. Geography has been very important to human beings. The period, the hypermobile era we’re in at the moment, is probably something of an aberration; it’s an unusual thing in the history of human beings.
Now, why do I say things can go backwards as well as forwards? Well, we need to always think and be prepared for, somehow, this era coming to an end. Do you remember when Concorde was taken out of service all those years ago, that was a slight reduction in the hypermobility of the human race; a piece of technology that made it three hours to get to New York was withdrawn and it actually then took longer than it had before. That wasn’t very important; Concorde was only used by a few people. But it’s always possible that something else will happen to take us back to our normal state of being much more focused on our own backyard.
We’ve had hypermobile periods or equivalents in history before. The Roman Empire was an era in which people looked beyond their national boundaries. They didn’t even have the conception of national boundaries at the time. The period before the First World War was a very global era, and in these situations, collapses of empires and wars can bring an end to hypermobility and that whole outlook, and again there may be threats to where we are now through things like climate change and the like.
Now of course, technology may allow us to carry on flying as much as we have before. We may even get a kind of Son of Concorde back in the skies, but I think it is always worth remembering that things can move backwards as well as forwards.
That’s my view anyway. You can join the debate with the Open University.