Is volcanic ash the new swine flu? That is not a rhetorical question: along with the rest of the public, I honestly haven’t a clue. Are either self-interested or self-empowering jobsworths creating a panic where there is no threat? Or, spurred on by desperate airlines haemorrhaging income, would it be crassly irresponsible to allow families to embark on aircraft which might be downed by ash damaging their engines, with catastrophic consequences?
We do not know. And the reason why we do not know is more important than the dilemma to fly or not to fly, more important even than the paralysis of international travel, the £500m already lost to the British economy and the plight of Britons stranded abroad. We do not know because we can no longer trust the sources from which we would normally expect to receive authoritative information. There is a complete breakdown in confidence between the public and the politico-scientific establishment.
On the face of it, the facts should be reasonably ascertainable: in an age when we can send space probes to the far reaches of the universe, it should be possible to establish with some accuracy whether or not it is safe to fly between London and Paris. But the agencies involved in making that assessment are no longer perceived as trustworthy by the public. The scare was started by the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) of the Met Office. The Met Office – oh dear. One of the bodies most heavily compromised by the AGW scam and consequently now bereft of authority.
Then it emerged that the apocalyptic warnings emanating from the Met Office were not based on empirical scientific evidence, but on a “model” running on mathematical projections. Does that ring any bells? Next, British Airways ran some test flights which they insisted gave the all clear. Well they would, wouldn’t they, was the sceptical public reaction, in a mood of universal cynicism where the airlines are regarded as occupying an analogous, financially self-interested role to the hated banks. Nato did report some ash in a jet fighter’s engines, which contradicted the reassurance from BA.
The European Commission then intervened, rubbishing the mathematical model (which it may come to regret, next time it presses the alarm button on global warming), while the Government tried to exploit the always easily reawakened Dunkirk spirit among Britons, by announcing the despatch of warships to pluck stranded travellers off foreign beaches. Now airspace is to be reopened over the northern half of the country, but the question remains: who do we believe?
The answer from the majority of citizens is: none of the above. That is the condition to which we have been reduced by the relentless lying and self-interest of all agencies of government and authority. It would formerly have been possible to take a measured decision whether to risk the lives of yourself and family in an aircraft, guided by the best scientific evidence available, accurately transmitted to the public by the Government. No longer. Not only are both the British and European governments deeply distrusted and viscerally loathed, but the scientific establishment is now regarded with equal suspicion.
At a time of declining religious belief and escalating state provision, the two dominant influences on people’s lives are politicians and scientists. Both have now lost public credibility. Alienation of the population from those two overlapping establishments points to an imminent revolution in public affairs, some of which may already be occurring. Politicians are beyond redemption. It remains to be seen whether the scientific community can claw back credibility. Renouncing and firmly repudiating the whole AGW scam would be the necessary first step.