Monday, April 26, 2010

Lessons learned from Iceland volcano

That was the cover of my Economist this week. Actually, I don't believe that anybody ever learns any lessons from these 'wakeup calls', but there are lessons that they should have learned.

1. A minor dusting like this week is a 1 in 100 (or 50) year event. This falls out of living memory, and there hasn't been anything like this since modern aviation took off. There should be some preparation for these events, and this can save billions.

2. Some consideration should be given to the 1 in 500 year events. These are devastating earthquakes, like Lisbon. In most cases, all you can do is quickly clean up. For Iceland volcanoes, we're talking a 'Black Death' event.

If no consideration is given for the minor events, then the worst thing is over-reaction. They set their tolerance for volcanic ash to zero point zero, which is a lazy thing to do. Just shut down everything if there is a volcano! But the weasly toadies started to change when the big boys were inconvenienced. Then they knocked the target up to some random level that allowed executive jets to fly.

Had they done something in advance, it would have been an easy matter to set some physics-based levels. What level clogs up a jet engine? What level just shortens life between tear-downs.

Are the toady regulators this bad in other areas? You bet! Right here in Ontario, they are ready to shut down all the nuclear reactors with a significant 1 in 100 earthquake, since this will ravage the power grid system. The toady regulator hasn't got a speck of credibility, yet when we are all freezing in the dark, and everybody is dying, they will allow the nuclear plants to start up without inspection, and without any criteria. Or will they? Has any regulator allowed a nuclear plant to start up willy-nilly after an earthquake? Most likely it's 6 months of inspections. This will be just as interesting as Europe!

Of course, we haven't even approached the 1 in 500 year events! There won't be an over-reaction, since it will be horrible. Again, some planning, such as building codes, will work here. For Europe, they better develop a good ash filter for trains and trucks! Forget the planes!


Jah Jah said...
Here is the patent for disposal of nuclear waste to be buried in lava, How convenient, when the same week of the Icelandic volcano there was a nuclear arms reduction summit. There is NO way to get rid of NUKES ! The only way is to DETONATE THEM!! - - what better way to dispose of all the excess third world nuclear material than to dump it back on the Icelandic people, post banking crisis. Another proposed method of disposal is to bury it in tectonic plates-

Harold Asmis said...

That's nice.