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Vapid Science More Dangerous Than Volcanic Dust
by Xavier Connolly.

The cloud of volcanic dust belched out by an icelandic volcano grounded most European and trnsatlantic flights. But was there a real danger to airline passenger from the volcano or was it another case of Politiical control freaks and their science poodles using fear and panic in a desperate attempt to revover a little of the credibility they lost through the climate change science scandal and the swine flu pandemic that never was?

Vapid Science More Dangerous Than Volcanic Dust
by Xavier Connolly.
2010-04-26
CREATIVE COMMONS: Attribute, non commercial, no derivs.
KEYWORDS: volcano,volcanic, eruption, iceland, airline, aircrft, passenger, flight, science, scientific, engineer, aeronautical, politics, fear and panic, control freak

More quickly than is usual the truth about the Volcanic Dust Chaos that emptied the skies and left thousands of holidaymakers and business traveller stranded is emerging. It seems it was not any realistic threat posed by the dust that led to government's spreading fear and panic about engine failures in passenger aircraft but the unrealistic belief of scientists in their own infallibility and semi divine status.

As my career was spent in engineering it falls to me to pillory the bogus science and it is bogus, another case of people who have passed their careers in academic institutions deluding themselves there is no difference between their mathematical modelling kit and reality. Unfortunately such people have the ear of government and politicians are always ready to grasp any opportunity to spread fear and panic in order the convince us all we need the protection of Nanny State. There is a name rapidly gaining currency for this style of government, "Populist Authoritarianism." In other words the government is sending out the message: "Who cares? Big Brother, he cares."

The irony of the flight ban first imposed by the UK's Labour Government but rapidly picked up by other governments is that while they claimed to have the interests of the ordinary people at heart, the rich elite were hardly affected while people on ordinary incomes who had saved hard for their holidays or people running small businesses who could not afford the alternative methods of travelling were landed with huge bills for accommodation or exorbitant travel costs as well as losing income while they were absent from work. The rich carried on as normal, the poor suffered. It is, is it not, always the way with socialist governments' efforts to impose equality by controlling everything?

When the volcano blew and the ash cloud started to spread the UK government, advised by its "scientists" knew it had to display its innate control freakery and save people foolish enough to want to fly in such circumstances from their own folly. Labour governments have a track record for treating the electorate like dull witted children. The reason given was that in the past jet engines had failed after encountering volcanic dust. Economy class and holiday flight passengers were effectively grounded, first class flyers simply switched to the private charter jet market. Lear Jets and Gulfstreams fly at altitudes lower than those affected by the dust could and so were still flying. Such air traffic is not governed by the same international laws as commercial passenger operators.

One private charter airline employee said "The ash scare was the sickest joke in years," (has he forgotten Swine Flu already?) Another is reported as saying that the industry had had its busiest week ever, it seemed the entire first class market had transferred to private charters. Small, propeller driven, planes usually used for air taxi services ran a cross channel ferry service between Britain and France, The Netherlands and Belgium.

Was the dust ever a real danger and if not why did governments and their scientific advisors over react so grossly?

In the 1980s a passenger jet en route from Australia to the UK encountered a dust cloud emitted by an Indonesian volcano while flying at around 30,000 feet. After flying in the dust cloud for a while all four engines experienced a catastrophic loss of power and effectively failed. The aircraft descended over four miles very rapidly and at an altitude of approx 12000 feet the engines started again and the flight continued. Nobody died. That incident is all the decision to ground flights was based on.

The Indonesian incident has little in common with the dust cloud from the Icelandic eruption. Firstly the aircraft flying from Australia almost directly overflew the erupting volcano, in the Icelandic incident aircraft that would not have to go within a thousand miles of the volcano were grounded. So no consideration of the density of dust was included in the evidence on which the decision was made. Second; the aircraft on its was from Australia did not crash. For sure the passenger would have been very shaken, some may even have been too afraid of air travel to ever board a flight again but it did not crash. Once at a lower altitude, beneath the worst affects of the dust it was able to fly on. Thirdly; a total of 90 incidents of passenger aircraft encountering volcanic dust have been recorded. In none of these has there been any loss of life or injury.

One of the arguments for grounding the flight was based on bogus engineering science. The volcanic ash cloud was said to contain microscopic particles of glass formed when meltwater from glaciers poured into the magma chamber and crystallised the molten rock. This highly abrasive material would damage the moving parts of the jet engines it was said. Now jet engines have very few moving parts and they are well sealed and protected from foreign materials. On top of that the materials used in engines are designed to resist very high temperatures, temperatures that will rapidly vaporise volcanic dust. Most people including opportunistic politicians and the academic scientists who advise them have little understanding of how safety conscious aeronautical engineers have to be and yet these pontificating fools make important decisions. Nobody though to ask the engineers who work on aircraft engines or the pilots who are trained to deal with everything that might occur during a flight. These people are not academics or politicians, they only have the benefit of hands on experience so what can they possibly know?

It actually turns out now, almost a week after the ban on flying was lifted, that there was no dust cloud over Britain. Our airspace was safe all the time. What happened was the British Volcano Advice Centre, custodian of the mathematical models that predict the movement of dust clouds, was given weather forecasts by the Met office, The Volcano Advice Centre did some "science" (mathematical modelling) on these and gave the results to the Civil Aviation Authority which took the results to be real data and not scientists wishful thinking. From there the panic spread.

The European civil aviation authority in Brussels now admits that throughout the whole fiasco every step was based on mathematical forecasts rather than real evidence. So the same methods were applied as had failed so spectacularly in the case of Swine Flu, the Financial meltdown, the HIV scare of the eighties and early nineties and the case for Anthropogenic Global Warming. None of it had anything to do with reality.

Governments and the "scientific community" as they like to style themselves seem determined to protect everybody from all risks. This is the very attitude that makes The Daily Stirrer suspicious of their motives. There is danger everywhere, everything we do carries a risk. Would it not be more responsible to abandon the control freakery and simply let people be aware of the risks and make up their own minds?

One of the reasons western democracies are becoming ungovernable is that ordinary people feel cut off from power and have the sense that their independence and individuality is being taken away from them. Thus nobody trusts the control freaks although we are happy to trust airline pilots and operators just as once we were happy to trust doctors. All that changed when government and the "scientific community" got into bed with big pharma and started to make up scares like Swine Flu in order to spoonfeed tax revenues to friendly corporations. Just as everybody bar an eccentric few knows climate change is a problem but a large majority of us question the "climate science" simply because it is too obviously geared towards justifying big taxes, more control freakery and more shovelling money towards fascistic multi national corporations. The control freaks must back off, nobody can be unaware that every time we board a plane or step into a car we put ourselves at risk or that we could catch serious illnesses whenever we mingle with other people. We must be allowed to decide for ourselves what risks we wish to take and what we need to do to minimise the dangers.

One does not have to look very far back in history to see that all attempts at social engineering result in catastrophic failure. So why do the self styled "progressive left" and their scientific poodles keep trying to use fear and panic to turn us all into unthinking droids. And why do the science fools keep going on about evidence when their theories are based on anything but evidence.

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