The Profit Incentive has made Air Travel Safe and Crashes Rare

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 7th, 2013

Week in Review

During the height of the Cold War people feared the might of the Soviet Union.  And nuclear war.  As those were scary days.  For the Soviet Union had some awesome military power.  And was the only nation that could threaten the United States.  But you know what was even scarier?  Flying on a Soviet jetliner.

The Soviet Union lost the Cold War because communism is a terrible economic system.  The Soviets couldn’t feed their people.  Or keep enough toilet paper and soap on store shelves.  As their command economy did such a horrible job in allocating scarce resources that have alternative uses.  So you never had the best of anything in the Soviet Union.  Which is why people from the West dreaded flying into the Soviet Union on Soviet jetliners.  For they had a tendency to crash.  The Soviets stole as much technology from the West to improve their technology as they could.  And many of their aircraft designs looked similar to those in the West.  But they were Soviet made.  And Soviet maintained.  In the same economic system that couldn’t keep toilet paper or soap on store shelves.

The problem with the Soviet Union was that there was no profit incentive.  When money is at stake everything is better.  Like in the West.  But when you don’t have profits you don’t have to please customers.  And you don’t.  Everything is like standing in line waiting to renew your driver’s license.  And if a plane crashes it doesn’t change anything.  Planes will keep flying as they were before.  And everyone’s pay will be the same as before.  So everyone will do the minimum.  Just enough to avoid punishment.  This is why Soviet air travel was among the most dangerous air travel in the world.

This past Saturday there was an Asiana Air 777 that crashed while landing at San Francisco International Airport.  Of the approximate 300 on board 2 people died.  Some were injured.  While many were able to walk away from the crash.  Cable television has been covering this nearly 24/7 since the crash.  Even though only two people died (a terrible tragedy but a tragedy that could have been far worse).  And one of them may have been accidentally driven over by the first responders arriving on scene.  Why the intense media coverage?  Because accidents like this are so rare these days.  Especially when they involve big airplanes.  And the 777 is about as big as they come.

In the aftermath of this crash we can see why flying has become so safe under a profit incentive.  Unlike in the former Soviet Union (see Asiana Air Crash May Bring New Safety Regulations in Korea by Kyunghee Park posted 7/7/2013 on Bloomberg).

“Asiana’s accident is going to damage the image of not just Asiana, but all Korean airlines,” said Um Kyung A, an analyst at Shinyoung Securities Co. in Seoul. “It only takes one incident to undermine years of work Korean airlines have made to get a solid, accident-free record. This will prompt the government to call for stricter safety measures…”

Shares of Asiana, South Korea’s second-largest airline, slumped to the lowest level in more than three years in Seoul trading today. The stock plunged as much as 9.6 percent to 4,630 won, the lowest price since April 2010…

All South Korean airlines, including budget carriers, were ordered to ensure safety, the transport ministry said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. The country had no fatal air crashes between December 1999 and July 2011, when an Asiana freighter crashed, the ministry said…

A Korean Air 747-200 cargo plane crashed in December 1999 shortly after taking off from London’s Stansted Airport, killing three of its four crew members on board. That was eight months after the airline’s MD-11 freighter crashed in Shanghai in April and killed eight people, including those on the ground.

The accidents prompted the government to tighten safety standards at Korean airlines, as well as foreign ones flying into the country. It also strengthened regulations on pilot and maintenance licenses.

Pilots were required to be trained and evaluated at an international center, and airlines were required to fly more hours on domestic routes before obtaining a license to fly overseas. The government also strengthened safety regulations at domestic airports.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration downgraded South Korea to Category 2 safety rating in August 2001 following the accidents. The rating was restored to Category 1, which allowed Korean carriers to open new routes in the U.S. and resume marketing alliances with American carriers, in December that year.

In the Soviet Union there was no profit incentive as they put people before profits.  Which made Soviet air travel among the most dangerous in the world.  But look at what happens when there is a connection between safety and profits.  After a series of crashes and a downgrade by the U.S. to Category 2 South Korea tightened safety standards.  To improve their safety record.  For the fewer accidents you have the more profitable you will be.  A very strong incentive to be safe.  Which is why South Korea enjoys a better safety record than the Soviet Union ever had.

When people say that we need government to keep us safe from the greed of corporations all we need to do is look at the former Soviet Union.  And how their government failed to keep their flying public as safe as in countries that use a profit incentive.  For no corporation wants to see their stock price fall 9.6 percent.  Have a nation block them from opening new routes into their country.  Or have people perceive that their planes are not safe.  Things the former Soviet Union did not have to worry about.  As the Soviet people had no other alternative but to fly on those dangerous planes.  But there are many airlines flying between Asia and the United States.  And if one has a poor safety record people will book their flight with another airline.  This is what the profit system gives people.  Choice.  Where people can choose not to fly on an unsafe airline.  Something the Soviets couldn’t do.  Because there were no profits in the Soviet Union.

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FT168: “Gasoline and guns empower women, not birth control and abortion.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 3rd, 2013

Fundamental Truth

Gasoline let’s a Woman work a Job she Likes that Pays Well instead of Settling for a Nearby Job she Hates

In the old days men worked and women stayed home and raised the kids.  And on the weekend the man got the lawnmower out and cut the lawn.  At first he muscled a push-mower across the lawn.  Then he got a gasoline-powered mower.  Even our senior citizens can keep cutting their lawn in their advanced years.  By getting a self-propelled gasoline-powered mower.  We may not think a lot about it but cutting our lawn is a big part of home ownership.  And today’s lawnmowers allow anyone do this task themselves.  Including the fairer sex.

A widow living on her own in the home she shared with her late husband can cut her lawn with a self-propelled gasoline-lawnmower.  Allowing her to stay in her home without paying someone else to cut her lawn.  Who may try to take advantage of a senior citizen.  It will also allow a younger woman to own a home without having to pay some stranger to get familiar with her and her home as they cut her lawn.  While having a power mower may keep some overly interested neighbors from coming over to help ‘the little lady’ as she struggles behind a push-mower.  And a loud gasoline-powered lawnmower lets her get the job done quickly.  Without inviting unwanted conversation over the noise.  Or something else unwanted.

Yes, gasoline has empowered women like nothing else.  It gives her the freedom to work where she wants to work.  Because a gasoline-powered car allows her to work a job she likes and pays well.  Instead of settling for a job within walking distance from her home.  Or a short walk from some public transportation line.  A gasoline-powered car empowers the single mother.  She can use it to take her kids to school in the morning.  Then drive to her job.  After work she can drive to pick her kids up from school.  Or daycare.  And then home.  Things she couldn’t do if she had to rely on public transportation.

Gasoline let’s a Woman get Home Safely no matter the Weather or Time of Day without Molestation

Yes, gasoline is a blessing for women.  It gives them freedom.  And independence.  As well as security and safety.  With a car she doesn’t have to wait at night at a desolate bus stop.  Or enter a deserted subway platform.  And while driving her car no one can ‘feel her up’ like they can in a crowded subway car.  Or worse.  It’s gasoline that protects women.  An electric car won’t.  A gasoline car with a full tank will let her sit in the biggest traffic jam on her way home at night in a blizzard.  Gasoline will keep that engine running.  And that engine will heat her car, defrost her windows and keep her headlights on so she can see.  But if she was in an electric car she would be shutting off the heat, defrosters and headlights as she begins to worry whether she has enough charge to make it home.

On the weekend she can run to the grocery store.  And fill up her gasoline tank in broad daylight.  When it’s safe.  Which will let her commute about an hour and a half roundtrip each day during her workweek.  But if she finds she’s running low on fuel she can stop at a brightly lit gas station.  Swipe her credit card.  Fill her tank.  And be back on her way home in 10-15 minutes.  You can’t do that with an electric car.  Only gasoline will do this for you.  If an electric car runs out of charge it could strand a young lady in a bad neighborhood.  Where she’ll have to call and wait for a tow home.  Alone.  And vulnerable.

Gasoline will get a woman safely home better than anything else.  On the weekend she can get the gasoline-powered mower out and cut her lawn quickly.  Leaving her time for other yard work or gardening she may want to do.  Something else gasoline let’s her do.  She can hop in her car and drive to however many nurseries she wants to find the plants she wants to grow.  And she can load up potting soil and mulch in her car.  And drive it home.  Without relying on a man helping her.  She can have and do whatever she wants to do because of gasoline.  For gasoline empowers a woman like nothing else.

A Handgun with a High-Capacity Magazine will allow a Woman to Stop a Man—or Group of Men—from Harming Her

But a woman living on her own can attract some unwanted attention.  Some may be interested in her charms.  Some may be interested in what she has in her home.  Or both.  Thinking a woman living alone is an easy mark they may break in at night.  Now it would be difficult for a woman to fight off a couple of intruders.  Or even one strong man.  For women are the fairer sex.  They are not as large as men.  Giving men the clear advantage in any physical confrontation.  Especially if a woman is asleep in her bed.  Vulnerable.  And if men are in her home she probably won’t be able to run into the kitchen to get a knife for protection.  But even if she hid one in her bedroom she would have to put herself in great danger to use it.  Because to stab someone you have to be close to them.

But there is another way.  She can protect herself against an intruder.  Even if they have a knife.  All she needs is a handgun.  And a high-capacity magazine.  So even if three men tried to assault her in her bedroom she could keep shooting until they cannot attack her anymore.  And she can do this from a distance.  She can kneel on the far side of her bed.  Across from her bedroom door.  And start shooting them as they rush through the bedroom door.  With the distance they have to close to get to her and a high-capacity magazine she will be able to shoot them down before they can reach her.  In fact, having a handgun with a high-capacity magazine gives her the advantage.  Even if she is far out-muscled by her assailants she can shoot as if she is as large and as threatening as they are.  Only a handgun with a high-capacity magazine can do this.  Not a knife.  Or a revolver.  Or a shotgun.  A revolver will give her six shots.  But if she’s scared her first six shots could miss.  And then she will have to reload bullets into the cylinder in the dark.  Difficult even for the best law enforcement officers.  And a double barrel shotgun will have only two shots.  If she unloads both barrels into bad guy #1 then she will have to reload to protect herself from bad guys #2 and #3.  In the dark.  Plus, a shotgun has a long barrel and is not easy to use in tight areas.  Finally, if a woman is being stalked or a prison released someone who assaulted her she can get a permit to carry a concealed weapon to protect herself.  A handgun with a high-capacity clip will fit into any purse.  A shotgun won’t.

Give a woman gasoline and a handgun with a high-capacity magazine and she is free to live however she wants to.  They will empower her.  Leveling the balance of power in her life.  Allowing her to do whatever a man can do.  And to protect herself from any man.  Or group of men.  While the left says birth control and abortion empower a woman they won’t let her do much but have a lot of sex.  They won’t help her get to her job and safely back home.  They won’t take her kids to school.  They won’t get her to the grocery store.  They won’t cut her lawn.  And they sure won’t protect her from an assailant.  No, if the left truly wants to empower women they should stop attacking gasoline and the internal combustion engine.  And they should stop trying to make it harder for law-abiding people to own a gun.  For a handgun with a high-capacity magazine will allow a woman to stop a man—or group of men—from harming her.  No matter how strong and powerful they are.  Something birth control and abortion just can’t do.

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The High Cost of Labor Contracts and Environmental Regulations cause Planes to Run Low on Fuel

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 26th, 2012

Week in Review

Here is a lesson in basic economics.  There is a tradeoff between costs and safety in aviation.  You could hire thousands of additional mechanics to give an airplane a complete overhaul after each flight.  And double their pay rate just to make sure they are especially happy workers.  You can have a couple of chase planes follow a passenger airliner on every flight to observe the outside of the aircraft so they can warn the pilot of any problems.  And you can top off every fuel tank on an airplane just to be extra safe.  These things would make flying safer.  But they would also make it very expensive to fly.  So expensive that few people would fly.  Thus reducing the amount of airplanes in the sky.  As well as the number of flight and maintenance crews.  Which illustrates the ultimate cost of generous union contracts.  The more they ask for the more they put themselves out of a job.

But these unions are powerful.  Margins are so thing in aviation that a strike could turn a profitable year into a money losing year.  So to avoid a strike they cut costs where they can.  And the one cost that gives them something to work with is their fuel costs.  Because an airplane only needs enough fuel to fly from point A to point B.  Plus some reserves.  So they are very careful in calculating the fuel requirements to get from point A to point B.  But sometimes weather can enter the picture and add a point C.  And this can sometimes cause a fuel emergency (see Pilots forced to make emergency landings because of fuel shortages by David Millward posted 8/20/2012 on The Telegraph).

Pilots have had to make 28 emergency landings because they were running low on fuel according to figures compiled by the Civil Aviation Authority…

Although the total represents of fuel-related emergency landings is a reduction on 2008-10, when there were 41 such incidents, some pilots have warned the airlines are operating on very narrow margins as they seek to cut operating costs…

One retired pilot told the Exaro website that he and his colleagues were under pressure from airlines because of the industry’s need to keep costs down.

“There is pressure on pilots by airlines to carry minimum fuel because it costs money to carry the extra weight, and that is quite significant over a year…

“The way in which aircraft are being developed in becoming more fuel efficient, there is less need for fuel.

We make jet fuel by refining petroleum oil.  And two things make this an expensive endeavor.  Higher environmental regulations.  And reductions in supply.  Often due to those same environmental regulations.  If they allowed the American oil business to drill, baby, drill, it would be safer to fly.  Because fuel would be less expensive.  And airlines could more easily afford to carry the extra fuel weight.

Airlines don’t have much power over controlling the price of jet fuel.  It is what the market says it is.  They have a little more luck in keeping their capital costs down thanks to the bitter rivalry between Boeing and Airbus.  Who are both eager to sell their airplanes.  Cutting their labor costs is another option they have but it comes with great political costs.  Usually it takes the specter of bankruptcy to get concessions from labor.  So when it comes to cutting their operating costs the least objectionable route to go is to cut fuel costs.  By loading the absolute bare minimum required by regulations.  And for safety.  Airlines want to save money.  But having planes fall out of the sky to save fuel costs will cost more in the long run.  In more ways than one.  (It’s hard to get people to fly on an airline that has a reputation of having their planes fall out of the sky.)

So there are only two practical options to fix this problem of skimping on the fuel load.  Either you drill, baby, drill.  Or you get labor concessions to lower you labor, pension and health care costs.  The very same things that are bankrupting American cities.  So you know the costly union workers are all in favor of drill, baby, drill.  Because the lower the cost of jet fuel the less pressure there is on their pay and benefits.

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Airbus spends €263 Million to Keep the A380 Safe because Capitalism makes Safe Airplanes

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 19th, 2012

Week in Review

Free market capitalism is a beautiful thing.  It’s like a dog having puppies.  You don’t have to do anything but stand back and let it happen (see Airbus Earnings Hit By A380 Wing Cracks by Robert Wall posted 5/15/2012 on Aviation Week).

Airbus is taking another €158 million charge linked to the costs associated with wing component cracking on its A380s.

 That comes on top of a €105 million charge taken in March against 2011 results because of the same problem. “This final retrofit fix is more complex than initially anticipated in March; therefore, the group updated the cost for the retrofit solution leading to an additional charge of € 158 million in the first quarter,” Airbus parent EADS says in releasing its latest results…

Qatar Airways, for instance, has said it will only take A380s once the final fix is installed on its aircraft — the first handover to the Middle East carrier is due next year.

The fix also has hit A380 delivery plans. Airbus has temporarily slowed A380 production, but the impact of that move is not expected to be seen until 2013.

Airbus has a vested interest to make sure their planes are safe.  For an unsafe airplane is very difficult to sell.  Earlier reports stated that these cracks did not affect the safety of these aircraft.  But they have still hurt sales.  And slowed their production. 

Airbus has spent to date some €263 million ($335.85 million) to fix this problem.  Which is quite a sum considering one A380 has reportedly sold for $234 million.  So their spending the money to do what’s necessary to fix this problem.  Spending more than the cost of one A380 so far.  And the reason why they’re doing this is in part to the airworthiness directive issued by the European Aviation Safety Agency grounding A380s.   For you can’t sell an airplane that’s not allowed to fly.  But a customer not taking any more deliveries until the final fix is installed on its aircraft is also a very big incentive.  Because Boeing is out there with their 747.  And Airbus will do whatever necessary to make sure their customers don’t cancel those A380 orders and replace them with 747 orders.

It’s been said before.  Competition makes everything better.  It’s what makes free market capitalism the best system in the world.  And why aircraft built in capitalistic countries are the safest aircrafts in the world.  Because safe airplanes are easier to sell than unsafe airplanes.  And selling airplanes drive profits.  So when your system is based on profits it’s also based on safety.  Because safety drivess profits.  Unlike in the old Soviet Union. 

When they suffered the loss of a state-manufactured aircraft their greatest concern was embarrassment.  Looking inferior to the West.  Their people had no choice but to get on those same airplanes.  Because their state airline had no choice but to use the state-manufactured airplanes.  And the only incentive the state-manufacturer had to spend money on fixing problems was when the costs of those fixes proved to be less than the cost of lost airplanes.  And they would never spend more than the cost of one aircraft to fix a problem that hasn’t caused the loss of a single aircraft.

Airbus has a lot riding on the A380.  It was a very expensive airplane to bring to market.  It has to be a safe airplane to cover their investment costs.  So they will choose to spend what it takes to ensure its safety.  Because that’s what corporations do under capitalism.

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FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #57: “Environmental policy is a zero-sum policy; save the planet, kill man.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 15th, 2011

What do Cows and Dinosaurs have in Common?  They’re both a little Gassy.

Bovine flatulence contributes to global warming.  That’s a theory at least.  Cows fart.  It’s a byproduct of the digestion process.  Like with people.  As things break down chemical things happen.  It releases nutrients.  And gas.  Methane.  Until nothing is left but solid waste.  The nutrients help other things grow (people, animals, plants, etc.).  And the gas just dissipates into the atmosphere.  Or annoys your significant other when you do it under the covers.  We poop the solid waste.  As do cows.

But farts aren’t just fun and games.  Because the chemical compound for methane is CH4.  That’s one Carbon atom and four Hydrogen atoms.  In other words, methane is a hydrocarbon.  As in carbon footprint.  Yes, that’s right, methane is a greenhouse gas.  And cows are indiscriminately farting it out like there’s no tomorrow.  And the larger the human population gets, the more cows we raise for food.  Which means more cows are farting.  Which creates more greenhouse gases.  Which leads to more global warming.

So you can see it’s a problem.  All this farting.  I mean, it’s one of the theories why the dinosaurs went extinct.  Dinosaur farts.  Of course this raises an interesting point.  Currently, man is causing global warming by raising more and more cows to feed our growing population.  Among other things.  Man wasn’t around for the dinosaurs, though.  They killed themselves off without any help from man.  Which can mean only one thing.  That global warming predated man.  Or the dinosaur theory is a silly theory.

It’s Man or the Environment

So while smug environmentalists may enjoy the smell of their own farts, they want to cut back on bovine flatulence.  And the easiest way to do that is to just have fewer cows.  Reduce the food supply.  And gamble with our lives with that smaller food supply.  That’s because they worry about the planet today.  They don’t care what happened in the past.  Whether dinosaurs raised the earth’s temperature more than man has ever done.  Or that there were ice ages.  And that those ice ages ended.  Without man’s help.

Once upon a time the glaciers covered a lot more of the earth than they do today.  And when they last melted there were no man-made greenhouse gases.  Except maybe a camp fire or two.  And the occasional fart.  Man did less than at any other time in his existence to warm the planet.  Yet the planet warmed.  So much so that the glaciers moved farther than they have in the last 2,000 years of man’s existence.  Something warmed the planet back then.  And it sure wasn’t man.

But today it is only man who is responsible for global warming.  With his man-made greenhouse gases.  From our polluting industries.  Or from the cows we raise to eat.  Man has been the curse of this fair planet.  And the more advanced he got the greater his environmental destruction has been.  In fact, the environmentalist will say that the world was a better place before man came along to spoil it.  And a lot of what they do today tries to right this great wrong. 

Bigger, Heavier and Safer or Fuel Economy

Engineering is a balance between tradeoffs.  Take cars, for example.  There are two driving features of cars these days.  Safety.  And fuel economy.  They’ve made a lot of safety innovations in the last few decades.  Seatbelts.  Crumble zones.  Airbags.  Telescoping steering wheels.  And the list goes on.  And we added a lot of these because of that other feature.  Fuel economy.  To get better gas mileage we made cars smaller.  And lighter.  And a smaller and lighter car does not fare well in an accident with a bigger and heavier car or truck.  So the tradeoff between fuel economy and safety really became a tradeoff between fuel economy and people.

The environmentalist is okay with this.  In fact, they added to this tradeoff.  With the emissions equipment they want.  Catalytic converter.  Secondary air injection.  Evaporative emissions control.  Etc.  Pop the hood on a car today and much of what you see is for emissions control.  More equipment added to the car.  Some of which is belt-driven.  Increasing the car weight.  And the engine load.  Requiring weight reductions elsewhere to meet required CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) regulations.  Thus making cars less survivable in accidents.

Some will argue, though, that cars are safer today than when they were all big and heavy.  Well, yes, cars are safer today compared to the bigger and heavier cars we used to drive.  But if you put seatbelts and airbags into those bigger and heavier cars, they would be safer than the cars today.  How do we know that?  Because we have cars today that are a lot like those bigger and heavier cars of yesteryear.  We call them SUVs.  And they are very popular.  Especially with parents who have kids to drive around.  Because they are bigger and heavier and safer.  And parents are more than willing to spend a little more in gas to drive those big honking things around to protect their kids.

From Global Cooling to Global Warming

But there are other tradeoffs besides fuel economy and people.  There’s the tradeoff between energy and people.  As populations grow they need more energy.  The energy of choice is electricity.  Produced by power plants that burn fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas).  Fossil fuels are, of course, hydrocarbons.  Those poor, hated, misunderstood hydrocarbons.  When we burn these to make electricity we create greenhouse gases.  And you know what that does?  That’s right.  Global warming.  At least, that’s what the environmentalists tell us.

There was another alternative.  Nuclear power.  It’s clean.  But there was a big problem with that.  A movie.  The China Syndrome.  And then Three Mile Island.  Both in 1979.  A growing nuclear power industry came to a screeching halt.  And we haven’t built another nuclear plant since.  The partial meltdown at Three Mile Island released a negligible about of radioactive steam into the atmosphere.  But the safety features worked as designed.  There was no China Syndrome.  But there was a movie.  And that was enough.  Nuclear power became the redheaded stepchild of energy generation.

There wasn’t a lot of talk about global warming in 1979.  Back then we were still talking about global cooling and the approaching ice age.  Then things changed.  The Nineties were all about global warming.  So not only did we shut down the nuclear industry, they so attacked fossil fuels that opening a new power plant was a regulatory nightmare.  So by the end of that decade our energy demands were taxing our energy supply.  Blackouts were becoming more and more common.  The elderly and infirmed suffered during these power outages.  Some died from heat stroke because there was no air conditioning.  With no escape from the heat there was other trouble.  Hot temperatures created hot tempers.  Often resulting in violence.  Looting.  And murder.

The Smug and Pretentious

The theory of global warming is a theory.  And not a very good one at that.  As those emails leaked from the University of East Anglia clearly showed (they were massaging the data to support the theory).  And making policy based on this theory has consequences.  It has altered the free market.  Regulated our lives.  Reduced our liberty.  And killed people.

No surprise, really.  Because environmentalists hate man and his impact on the planet.  So a few deaths along the way is a small price to pay.  And it thins out the herd of some of the less desirable.  Those who drive.  And energy hogs who use air conditioning.  But the environmentalist will live in his air conditioned ocean-side mansion (Al Gore).  But that’s okay.  Because some people have to show the way for the rest of us.  Not by example.  But by telling us how to live our lives.  Because caring is enough for them.  Makes them special.  Better than us.  So these smug and pretentious can sit back and enjoy their big carbon footprints.  And spend their days enjoying the smell of their own farts. 

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Earthquake and Tsunami Devastate Japan

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 11th, 2011

Have they no Shame?

It’s started.  Even before the aftershocks stopped.  The global warming crowd is blaming man for Japan’s earthquake (see Some respond to Japan earthquake by pointing to global warming by Amanda Carey posted 3/11/2011 on The Daily Caller).

Hours after a massive earthquake rattled Japan, environmental advocates connected the natural disaster to global warming. The president of the European Economic and Social Committee, Staffan Nilsson, issued a statement calling for solidarity in tackling the global warming problem.

“Some islands affected by climate change have been hit,” said Nilsson. “Has not the time come to demonstrate on solidarity — not least solidarity in combating and adapting to climate change and global warming?”

“Mother Nature has again given us a sign that that is what we need to do,” he added.

Of course, he is counting on that the rest of the world being as ignorant as he is.  Global warming doesn’t cause earthquakesTectonic plates shifting along fault lines do.  It’s a completely different science.  If you can call global warming science.  Which, based on his statements, you can’t.

Shame on these people.  Rubbing their hands together in glee whenever some horrible act of nature occurs that they can politicize.

8.9 Magnitude Earthquake hits Japan

The 8.9 magnitude earthquake is the biggest yet to hit Japan.  Since they’ve been keeping records, at least.  It’s caused some incredible devastation.  And a tsunami.  But it’s something Japan was prepared for.  And she will survive.  Because she has done it before (see Daybreak reveals huge devastation in tsunami-hit Japan by Edwina Gibbs and Chisa Fujioka posted 3/11/2011 on Reuters).

The quake surpasses the Great Kanto quake of September 1, 1923, which had a magnitude of 7.9 and killed more than 140,000 people in the Tokyo area.

The 1995 Kobe quake caused $100 billion in damage and was the most expensive natural disaster in history.

This time the death toll will not be anywhere near what it was in 1923.  Thank God.  The cost will be severe, though.  But it’s better to face that then hundreds of thousands in deaths.  Like they had in Haiti.  With their 7.0 magnitude quake.  Over 300,000 thousand died there.  Why?  Because of their poverty and political corruption.  For poverty is the leading cause of death in the world. 

Japan is an advanced nation.  A nation of laws.  With a strong economy.  Her people are prosperous.  Making life better for everyone.  Because of this, her people worked in buildings designed to withstand the power of earthquakes.  And a lot of them did.

Free-Market Economies are Safer to Live In

In advanced nations with strong, free-market economies, people come first.  These economies, after all, respond to consumer demand.  Safety matters.  So they build things safe.  Because the people matter.  And they demand it.

Contrast that with a command economy.  In National Socialist Germany (i.e., Nazi Germany), the state came first.  And the state didn’t hide that fact.  People were expendable.  Their needs were subordinated to the state’s.  Ditto for their enemy.  The Soviet Union.  In fact, when the Red Army was on the move, the infantry advanced ahead of their tanks.  To protect their tanks from land mines.  You see, with their vast population, it was easier to replace people than tanks.  For their people were an expendable resource.

This mindset no doubt played a role in the Soviet economy.  And their nuclear program.  What happened at Chernobyl could not have happened in the United States.  The Chernobyl nuclear reactor design was flawed.  And there was no containment vessel.  Safety was not a driving design criteria.  That’s why during testing the reactor core heated beyond control.  And exploded.  Without a containment vessel, that explosion threw up radioactive waste into the atmosphere and across Europe.  This did not happen at Three Mile Island.  Because in our free market economy, people come first.  So we build things safe.

Japan’s Nuclear Power Plants Overheating

Some of Japan’s nuclear reactors are having problems.  They’re overheating.  It’s nothing to do with their design.  In fact, it’s their design that has kept them this safe so far after an 8.9 magnitude earthquake and up to 7 (and still counting) aftershocks measuring 5.2 or stronger.  It was the one-two punch of mother nature.  The earthquake took out the primary electrical power.  Then the tsunami washed out their backup generators (see Report: 2 Japanese plants struggling to cool radioactive material by the CNN Wire Staff posted 3/11/2011 on CNN World).

The International Atomic Energy Agency said Friday on its website that the quake and tsunami knocked out the reactor’s off-site power source, which is used to cool down the radioactive material inside. Then, the tsunami waves disabled the backup source — diesel generators — and authorities were working to get these operating.

A double failure of low probability.  In power redundancy, it is common to have two electrical services from two independent electrical grids.  The plant can operate split over both or entirely on one or the other.  That’s one level of redundancy.  Should both of these sources go out (which in itself is a low probability), then there are on-site diesel generators.  Completely independent and self contained.  So no matter what happens with the offsite electrical sources, the generators can provide electrical power.  That is, unless they’re submerged in seawater.  Nuclear power plants may also have a battery backup as well.  Of course, batteries only last so long.  And don’t do well submerged in seawater.

Nuclear reactors boil water to make steam to produce electricity.  The boiling of this water is what cools the reactor core.  Even with the reactors shut down there is still residual heat that will grow unless the cooling pumps keep running to circulate water around the core.  And this is the problem they’re having.  The cooling pumps aren’t running.

This won’t be another Chernobyl

The disaster that hit Japan would have destroyed a lesser nation.  They need help.  And we should give it.  Whatever they need.  But in the end, they will shake this off and go on with life.  Because they are a people who can take pretty much whatever life throws at them.  Let’s just hope they can get those cooling pumps running again.  They have good designs.  Good operating procedures.  Good safety measures in place.   And some of the best nuclear people in the business.  This won’t be another Chernobyl.

Let’s help Japan.  And keep the Japanese in our prayers.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

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