Mail: the ash cloud that paralyzed Europe for a week didn’t exist—the dust in the air was at one 20th the danger level

This is beyond belief. The Mail offers no explanation of how such a staggering and costly mistake, with its traumatic effects on hundreds of thousands of stranded air travelers, could have been made. Is there perhaps a “Global Atmospheric Ashing” ideology we haven’t heard about that has taken over the air safety agencies? Whatever the cause, a mistake of this scale, if mistake it was, seems like a sign that civilization is breaking down. Our civilization runs on science. If the scientific authorities become floridly incompetent, the civilization ceases to function.

UPDATE: based on a blog article linked below, apparently the reason for the mistake really was as simple as what is suggested in the Mail, but was so simple, and stupid, that my mind didn’t take it in as an actual explanation: a special airplane was needed to test the cloud, and the plane was unavailable for several days because it was being repainted. Further, in the absence of the plane, the risk assessment was based not on actual observation of the dust cloud, but on computer modeling of the way dust clouds disperse, just as global warming is based on computer models:

The National Air Traffic Control Service decision to ban flights was based on Met Office computer models which painted a picture of a cloud of ash being blown south from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano.

These models should have been tested by the Met Office’s main research plane, a BAE 146 jet, but it was in a hangar to be repainted and could not be sent up until last Tuesday—the last day of the ban.

They shut down Northern Europe for a week, because of a computer model.

Well, here’s my model, my theoretical model of modern society, of which this incident is an illustration.

Modern society is run by people who rely on theoretical models (a.k.a. ideologies) about the nature of reality and don’t look at reality itself.

Furthermore, this uncritical belief in abstract theories, ideologies, catch-phrases, this refusal to grasp concrete reality beyond the catch phrases, is one of the main things, perhaps the main thing, that is bringing modern society to destruction..

I picked up the word “theoretical” from Melanie Phillips, who, responding to the same Mail article, writes:

“Scientific” assertions based upon theoretical computer models which produce merely speculation based on “might” and “if,” and which actually runs totally contrary to evidence-based, demonstrable reality? Ring any bells?

Clue: another “scientific” claim which originated in the Met Office about a catastrophic development in the atmosphere…

Here’s the Mail article

Remember that ash cloud? It didn’t exist, says new evidence

Britain’s airspace was closed under false pretences, with satellite images revealing there was no doomsday volcanic ash cloud over the entire country.

Skies fell quiet for six days, leaving as many as 500,000 Britons stranded overseas and costing airlines hundreds of millions of pounds.

Estimates put the number of Briton still stuck abroad at 30,000.

However, new evidence shows there was no all-encompassing cloud and, where dust was present, it was often so thin that it posed no risk.

The satellite images demonstrate that the skies were largely clear, which will not surprise the millions who enjoyed the fine, hot weather during the flight ban.

Jim McKenna, the Civil Aviation Authority’s head of airworthiness, strategy and policy, admitted: ‘It’s obvious that at the start of this crisis there was a lack of definitive data.

‘It’s also true that for some of the time, the density of ash above the UK was close to undetectable.’

The satellite images will be used by airlines in their battle to win tens of millions of pounds in compensation from governments for their losses.

The National Air Traffic Control Service decision to ban flights was based on Met Office computer models which painted a picture of a cloud of ash being blown south from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano.

These models should have been tested by the Met Office’s main research plane, a BAE 146 jet, but it was in a hangar to be repainted and could not be sent up until last Tuesday—the last day of the ban.

Evidence has emerged that the maximum density of the ash was only about one 20th of the limit that scientists, the Government, and aircraft and engine manufacturers have now decided is safe.

British Airways chief Willie Walsh always insisted the total shutdown went too far.

‘My personal belief is that we could have safely continued operating for a period,’ he said.

[end of article]

- end of initial entry -

Christopher B. sends this article, from the blog EU Referendum:

One of our Dorniers is missing—by Richard … Sunday, April 25, 2010

In her own words she condemned herself. Writing in The Daily Telegraph on Saturday (online), Deirdre Hutton, chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) sought to defend her authority’s decisions and claims that, “it led the way in getting airlines flying again.”

But, in the very text to which she lent her name, she set out the procedures needed before aircraft could resume flying. “First,” she wrote, “we had to understand the extent of ash contamination, by sending up planes bearing instruments that could measure its density (complementing the data provided by ground-based lasers).”

There is the endorsement of the very point which we have been making—that specialist aircraft were needed to investigate the ash cloud extent and bring back physical data to update and refine the Met Office’s computer model. And, as we have already ascertained, there were only two such aircraft available in the whole of the UK. [cont.]

A. Zarkov writes:

I was pretty shocked the UK Met could get this wrong. We have known to handle aerosol dispersal for a very long time. For example the National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center (NARAC) at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is equipped up predict how an ash cloud would disperse in real time. ARAC was originally set up to track and predict how (say) a radiation cloud would disperse from a reactor accident, or a nuclear attack. However, the methods are general an apply to just about any kind of release. Here is a photo of them as they track a Hawaiian volcano eruption. The British only needed to call ARAC (available 24 hours a day) and ask for help.

Ed L. writes:

Even if the ash cloud was a fiction, the reality of the airspace shutdown dramatically underscored our utter dependence on airplane travel, which is as insidious as our dependence on oil. This is what happens when there are no alternatives. For a long time, I had been talking myself blue in the face, saying that just the slave ship discomfort of airplanes ought to have stimulated a revival of demand for transoceanic ship travel.

D. in Seattle writes:

Ah, the parody writes itself:

For want of a paint brush the paint job was lost.
For want of a paint job the airplane was lost.
For want of an airplane real data was lost.
For want of the data 64,000 flights were lost.
For want of the flights billions of dollars were lost.
And all for the want of a paint brush.

Now seriously, could someone in the England of Churchill have imagined this kind of impact to people’s lives and the economy because an airplane had to be painted first?

James P. writes:

-The people in Churchill’s England would be less shocked, astonished, and angry that an ash cloud didn’t exist, than they would that England didn’t exist.

LA writes:

Good one, D. in Seattle.

D. from Seattle replies:

To someone like me who just reads about these and similar events from a distance, present-day Britain resembles late-stage Soviet Union. The lies became less believable and the level of competence kept dropping, till the country simply imploded. I’m sure it’s an oversimplification, but the parallels are there.

LA replies:

I don’t think that this is a silly comparison. The country has broken down and has lost the principle of life. All its leaders, its elite, its educated classes, are like dead puppets, their actions and words not connecting with any reality. (I’m not saying that there not lots of people in their own towns and communities still having decent British lives. But they have no influence in the dominant culture.)

In a key sense Britain is worse off than the dying USSR. In the old Soviet Union, there were dissidents, living both outside the country (like Solzhenitsyn) and inside the country (like Sakharov) who rejected the system, who knew that that Marxist-Leninist ideology was dead, and were looking for something new. Everyone puts Boris Yeltsin down because of the mess he made as president. But for a couple of years he was a great man. What made him great was that He was not only dissenting from the system; rather, he had ceased thinking in the terms of the system. When he spoke, he didn’t speak the Communist boilerplate (by contrast, Gorbachev to this day has never stopped sounding like a Communist); he sounded like a human being speaking human language expressing human-social-spiritual reality. I don’t see any leading spirits in today’s Britain who stand outside the dominant left-liberal thought-form the way Yeltsin stood outside the Communist thought-form. Even the supposed critics of the current British system are still inside the attitudes and premises of the system. Thus I do not see any positive and creative elements in Britain out of which Britain could be reborn following the implosion you speak of. I hope I’m wrong.

So Britain needs the emergence of new leaders who thoroughly reject the current system and represent a new spiritual, moral, and national vision for the country. It would be an interesting thought experiment to imagine what these new leaders would be like.

D. in Seattle writes:

I also hope you’re wrong. For comparison purposes, had anyone heard of Yeltsin before his rise to power? What I’m trying to say is, maybe there are leaders in Britain who would fit the mold of the new leaders you speak of, but we simply don’t know who they are, just like we didn’t know about Yeltsin till he became prominent.

Two names I can think of, and I’m by no means an expert in current British politics, are Daniel Hannan (Conservative) and Nigel Farage (UKIP) . I’ve been following your writings on BNP and Nick Griffin but his performance at Question Time last October was rather dismal (we’ve exchanged mails about it at the time).

LA replies:

Yes. Yeltsin was the mayor of Moscow, and for several years he had been increasingly challenging the system. Then he was elected president of the Russian Soviet Republic, and when the USSR collapsed, he became the president of the new country of Russia.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 26, 2010 02:30 AM | Send

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