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This is not climate science, in fact it is not even rocket science, it is merely the ramblings of a middle aged woman, who finds herself in a group of scientists who travel a lot.  So if you are smart or very busy or both you will go and find something else to do now.

It strikes me that for centuries people have been moving around the globe, not just around their own little geographical region but crossing oceans to settle in places far away from the place of their birth and their families.

Until about 50 years ago, this was a massive decision to make.  It was a 2 to 6 week sea journey and providing they made it safely to the other end future communication with the family and friends they’d left behind, if any was possible at all, would be limited to hand written letters.  They wrote these letters knowing that any response to such a letter was at least twice as far away as the time it had taken them to get to their destination in the first place.  For some maybe it would be possible to take the journey back to one’s home to see loved ones again but this was in no way guaranteed at the time of departure. This must have left those travellers of long ago in no doubt as to quite how large planet Earth is.

The last 50 years have seen a massive shift in travel, communication and perception.

I can remember speaking to grandparents who were living in a different part of the world.  A phone call was something that happened rarely, like Christmas day.  We would all stand huddled around a land line telephone with our one little sentence, message or question ready and prepared because this was a very exciting and expensive exercise and none of us wanted our nerves to get the better of us.  Back then it only took the same grandparents two days to fly from Europe to Cape Town to visit us and not two weeks on a boat.  A visit that was never repeated.

40 years later, my colleagues think nothing of hopping on a plane for a day’s meeting and frequently do so.  Before you know it they have flown to Paris and back again in the time it takes me to decide what to serve for a dinner party on the weekend.

Then toss into that scenario frequent skype calls with colleagues all around the world.  All around the world means different time zones, so you can hear their kids in the background, dogs barking or if the cameras are on, see them squished into a broom cupboard in the early hours of the morning for the skype call so as not to wake the new born baby.  This just to have a “face to face” during our office hours.  Today’s grandparents who have children and grandchildren living far away are all huge fans of skype because even before a grandchild can speak and communicate, they can watch them perform the latest trick in their developmental stage and the proud grandparents get a chance to coo over it adoringly. With the immediacy of connection, the globe indeed seems like a village

BUT when a crisis hits and a person with whom you are closely connected is sitting on the other end of the world calls to say they’ve had to put their dog down, or they have been retrenched or are suffering a temporary but nevertheless significant upset/turmoil, you are just not close enough to put your arms around them or make them a cup of tea and then you realise that this Global Village is a fallacy – planet Earth is enormous.


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