Sunday, April 18, 2010

We're Doomed

So, if one Icelandic volcano can disrupt air travel to a continent because of a little bit of ash flying into the air -- at least a little bit on a global scale -- we are, as a sapient species, doomed.

Look at this picture from the BBC:

Note that the the gray cloud spewing out of southwest Iceland is the volcanic plume in question; the rest is just ordinary cloud. Now I know volcanic ash preads all over the place and is even present in spots where the gray plume doesn't appear, but I hardly think it's justifiable to close down a continent's air travel just because of one measly volcano.

Happily, I'm not the only one. People way smarter than me think the same thing. Behold:
ACI Europe - which represents major airports - and the Association of European Airlines issued a joint statement urging officials to reconsider the restrictions.

"The eruption of the Icelandic volcano is not an unprecedented event and the procedures applied in other parts of the world for volcanic eruptions do not appear to require the kind of restrictions that are presently being imposed in Europe," the statement said.
This is being reported by the BBC.

So there's some science but a lot of paranoia going on over there over this situation. Even President Obama declined to travel to Poland to attend a state funeral because of the mess which, frankly, isn't all that messy. This is what happens when bureaucrats are in charge and listen to the worst case scenario, and that scenario is echoed, seal-bark-like, by the penny press.

Oh, I've seen the videos. This is one of them:

But remember, this plane flew directly through the ash cloud, not just though air space where a bit of ash might be present. So they're overreacting to the nth degree there.

Maybe I'm too dim to fathom all this. But when the flight bans first came out, I thought, my gosh, that plume must be enormous for Europe to ban all flights in or out. Enormous, I mean. Globe-spanning. Then I get to thinking, well, even the largest volcanic eruptions don't spew plumes dense enough to disturb vast areas of airspace. Somebody's playing silly with me. Then I see the picture and think, yeah, overreaction.

I'd fly to Europe today if someone gave me a free ticket, just to prove it's safe.

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