I’m watching the news, in particular the news that the airplanes will be allowed to fly again over Britain. Thank goodness.
Inevitably, a professorial head popped up – Professor Hayward was the name, I think – to argue that what had been revealed was that there were problems with who was in charge. Yes, it must have been the same Professor Hayward as the one quoted in this story. He described the muddle of different jurisdictions – with one Euro-quango governing this, and another that, and France and the UK actually, to quite a large extent – sniff – controlling their own airspace. I don’t know what the Professor really thinks about this, but he or the TV editors made it sound like he thought there ought to be one Euro-authority in charge of everything. There should be, that is to say, a Single European Sky. Recent events, he said, highlighted the fact that there is a muddle of different jurisdictions, when it comes to whether airplanes can fly or not.
And a good thing too. Thanks to that muddle of different European jurisdictions, some planes have been flying over Europe, including one KLM plane which this afternoon flew over London. And the ban is melting away, for all the world as if Europe was still governed by a gaggle of sovereign states, each in charge of its own affairs. No planes have so far dropped out the sky. They didn’t put it like that, but if a plane has fallen out of the sky, they would definitely have said. As more planes have taken to the air, the claim that flying in them is a death sentence becomes harder and harder to accept.
Had European airspace been commanded by a single despot, as will surely be argued by many others besides that Professor in the next few days and weeks, this disaster might have lingered on indefinitely, at a cost (and never let it be forgotten that economic disruption on this scale is, for quite a large number of severely stressed and severely impoverished, severely financially ruined people, a matter of life and death) which would have defied calculation.
Now Paxman is talking about pressure from “vested interests”. Airlines wanting to stay in business, in other words, airlines who have become convinced that this scare has been massively overdone. Airlines who prefer to pay attention to evidence of what is actually happening in the sky, rather than trusting mere computer models. Computer models are getting a rather bad name these day, aren’t they?
If, now that the ban is being lifted, planes do start crashing for mysterious reasons, or if the aircraft maintenance people start to detect the damage that they now say is non-existent in the planes that have already flown, then fine. Ground the planes again. But I’d be amazed if that happened. Airlines know better than anyone that plane crashes must be avoided at almost any cost. It is clear that they think that the risk of crashes now is negligible, for the reasons alluded to in this earlier posting here.
But, note that North is today defending the Met Office. North implies that the problem is that muddle of jurisdictions, which has enabled the European commission to evade its responsibility for this mess and heep all the blame on the Met Office. I see what he means, of course I do. But which would you prefer? A muddle of jurisdictions, with all the inevitable buck passing and mutual recrimination, plus pressure from vested interests, and from politicians trying to get re-elected, and derision from bloggers, and by and by from the mainstream media, in short the semblance of a still-free society? Or a pristine tyranny, willing and able to be totally wrong, indefinitely, rather than admit to the embarrassment of being wrong? Widespread panic for a few days? Or, total panic for weeks or months on end, that refuses even to admit that this was what it was? I know which I prefer.