Wednesday, 21 April 2010

A perfect parallel: Ashcloud/climate

Isn't it extraordinary that, while the Precautionary Principle was rightly invoked to stop flights for a week because of the ashcloud... apparently it can't be invoked even to reduce flights (for a long long time) to save the atmosphere, the climate?
[I owe this thought to my brilliant student and fellow Green Councillor, Ruth Makoff.]

4 Comments:

Anonymous -CCCR+ said...

Its not really a perfect parallel. Planes were grounded not due to a precautionary principle but because of various incidents around the world which caused damage to planes. It was simply a strategy to avoid repeating old mistakes and to avoid the risks to people flying.

The risks to the climate are still not comprehensively understood, and the models predicting chaos are fatally flawed. At least Meadows et al had the honesty to say their computer models were not forecasts, presenting possible scenarios at best. A new kind of thought experiment if you will.

I'm happy to correspond and provide research for you to consider.

22 April 2010 at 20:07  
Blogger Rupert said...

It IS a good parallel. The Precuationary Principle was REPEATEDLY invoked in defence of the flight bans; and you write deliberately misleading in talking of 'various incidents around the world which caused damage to planes' - there were virtually none this time, BECAUSE precuationary action was taken.
People like you would have us wait to act on the climate until it is too late. You should be ashamed of yourself, and if you have children I don't know how you can face them.

24 April 2010 at 13:58  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rupert

that's a ridiculously over the top response to a reasonable post.

24 April 2010 at 16:06  
Anonymous -CCCR+ said...

Sorry but you are clearly wrong. The precautionary principle simply says that if we plausibly suspect there might be a bad outcome, the onus of proof should be on disproving this risk rather than proving it.

In the case of aviation, in the 80's there were incidents where aircraft suffered various kinds of damage after encountering volcanic ash including engine failure. Clearly the precautionary principle was not evoked then otherwise these incidents would not have occurred. Any subsequent risks avoided after these events can no longer be PREcautionary.

The current action not to fly is born of historic knowledge of what happens, gained by flying through ash clouds. We know that doing so can damage engines, down planes for months and potentially risk passenger lives. Also the aircraft manufacturers say that their planes should not be flown through volcanic ash. Therefore it is just a good decision based on actual historic proof, not a precautionary principle. There was no doubt flying through volcanic ash poses a threat to aircraft when the decision was made.

So you are wrong about that. I think your reasoning is flawed by jumping from my saying 'our understanding of the climate is still not comprehensively understood' to my being a person 'who would have us wait to act until it is too late'. I'd rather use the resources we have effectively, obviously unlike you. You're the sort of person that would use a sledgehammer to crack a nut, or flood a village to put out a bonfire. You think your overreactions are victimless? Think again Mr Moral Highground.

25 April 2010 at 22:18  

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29.
Isn't it extraordinary that, while the Precautionary Principle was rightly invoked to stop flights for a week because of the ashcloud... apparently it can't be invoked even to reduce flights (for a long long time) to save the atmosphere, the climate?
[I owe this thought to my brilliant student and fellow Green Councillor, Ruth Makoff.]
30. 31. 32.