Like any other very old members of A net, the calamity of WW11 was so monstrous an event that we recoil from the thought that if even more of us died aviation might therefore be better.
And I'm confident those who have contributed such thoughtful posts were not actually suggesting such an outcome.
Let me put it in young persons language. The great wars sucked. I was nine when we listened (in Suva of all places) to the declaration of war on Germany by Great Britain. At that time the Australian population was barely recovering from the loss of so many young men in The Great War there weren't enough babies being born to sustain population growth.
Yet interestingly, aviation was very active in Australia then. It transformed the bush, and the biggest aviation market in the world in the years when I was born was in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, where contemporary reports had hundreds of small aircraft trying to get mining equipment and people into the new El Dorado of the Wagi-Hagen gold rush. Which turned out to be a fizzer. Sir Hubert Wilkins, the polar aviator, even made headlines predicting that future technology would see the opening of polar routes between New York and Port Moresby. (Struth!)
Also, while it is just possible that WW1 might not have happened and therefore another great European conflict might not have happened I doubt this avoidance of conflict would have occurred in northern Asia, where the conflicts in Manchuria, Korea and China set the scene for the other half of WW2.
Maybe we were lucky. One physicist years ago pointed out that in the Victorian era the discovery of radioactivity could actually have lead to the building of horse drawn nuclear devices to break the type of stalemate that occurred in the slaughter houses of Flanders.
So let me add this thought to the drinking game as Americans often call these 'what if' scenarios.
There are 375 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the air today compared to 285 ppm in 1800. With the cumulative effects of even more population industrial activity might by now have easily pushed this way past 400 ppm.
Our aviation industry might therefore be sidelined by the total global societal disruption of catastrophic climate change. Alternatively, market forces and policy might have seen aviation like surface transport forced to develop more effective hydrogen based fuels.
The imperative for energy efficiency might have become so pervasive in our lives that large unit sizes for jets, and the volumetrically higher space requirements of the fuel tanks, will have filled the skies with very different looking aircraft than those we see and use today.
In 1990 a good friend of mine Phil Ruthven, an Australian economic forecaster, wrote in The Bulletin that the jumbo jet age would be followed by ground effect craft bringing up to 4000 Japanese travellers, and their cars, at subsonic speed across the ocean overnight from Yokohama to Botany Bay, flying low above the ocean.
, shipping navigation rules might have come in for something of an overhaul, but Phil, who is I think just a few years young than me, might be onto something there, and we know the Russian flew similar devices on tests over Lake Baikal during the Cold War.