Currently viewing the tag: “adequate”

In February 2009, Continental flight 3407, operated by Colgan Air, plunged into a suburb of Buffalo, NY, killing all 49 people on board and one person on the ground. Pilot error was named as the chief cause of the crash, and investigators focused on pilot fatigue as one of the primary problems. The co-pilot had taken a cross-country, overnight flight the day before the crash, and only slept briefly in an airline lounge before she was required to pilot the flight.

When the plane encountered an ice storm as it attempted to land in Buffalo, the pilots struggled to respond appropriately, and The National Transportation Safety Board found that their “performance was likely impaired because of fatigue.” Both pilots were heard yawning on the cockpit voice recorder.

Families of the victims channeled their grief into action in the following months, launching a 15-month campaign to convince Congress to enact a variety of pilot performance safeguards. The bill passed last summer and, among other things, required the FAA to create tougher rules aimed at controlling pilot fatigue.

But today, the Republican House of Representatives passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) to a Republican-drafted aviation bill that would essentially gut the planned pilot fatigue rules by requiring extensive tailoring to many different segments of the aviation industry, and exempting several others.

Hero pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger blasted the amendment yesterday before it passed, saying “it creates a huge obstacle to new regulations,” and that, “at some point in the future, we don’t know when, it’s likely people will die unnecessarily.” Last night on the Ed Show, Sullenberger said the bill is a “slap in the face” to the Flight 3407 families. He also decried “special interests only interested in the bottom line.”

Watch it:

Family members of those killed on Flight 3407 are already speaking out against the Republican vote. “You can try to dress this up however you like, but we all know which special interests that [the amendment] is attempting to help and what it’s attempting to do for them, which is make it more difficult for the FAA to do its job and regulate them,” said Susan Bourque, who’s sister, Beverly Eckert, was killed in the crash.

Eckert’s husband, Sean Rooney, was killed in the Sept. 11 terror attacks, and in the years following his death, Eckert became a leading 9/11 activist and helped lead the push for the 9/11 Commission. She was flying to Buffalo that evening to attend the unveiling of a scholarship in her late husband’s name.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) has vowed to prevent the Shuster Amendment from becoming a part of the final aviation bill, after the House and Senate versions are reconciled.


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Chris Dodd was one of first marquee speakers at the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce’s regular breakfast meetings many years ago.

So it was only fitting that the lame-duck senator make an appearance before the group this morning, as his long political career comes to a close.

A wistful Dodd told the crowd in a ballroom at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Cromwell that he stayed up watching the Giants game last night and that his oldest daughter has won a part in the “Nutcracker.” And while he didn’t reveal his post-Senate plans, he did express enormous gratitude toward the people of Connecticut for giving him the opportunity to serve.

The Democrat who has served in the U.S. Senate since 1980 also weighed in on the election, which marked the first time in almost 40 years that he’s watched from the bleachers. He decried hyper-partisanship in Washington and reflected on the influence of money in campaigns.

“I don’t fault anyone who has the personal wealth to engage in  the political life of our country,” Dodd said, in what was perhaps a veiled allusion to his one-time opponent, Republican Linda McMahon, who sunk $ 50 million of her own fortune into her losing bid for a Senate seat.

“When I watched this last campaign cycle and the millions being spent, most of it on negative advertising, I worried about what it [meant] for our nation,” he said. He decried the fact that “more dollars are spent to…demonize people rather than to talk about the facts.”


Capitol Watch

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The Organization of the Islamic Conference is already the largest voting bloc at the UN, but a place on the Security Council would cement its control. “Kashmir removed from UN list of disputes,” from Rediff, November 15 (thanks to Ravi):

In a significant development, Jammu and Kashmir has been removed from the UN list of unresolved disputes, giving a setback to Pakistan which has been asking the world body to intervene on the issue.

The omission of Jammu and Kashmir from a list of disputes under the observation of the UN Security Council was noticed by Pakistan whose envoy has lodged a protest.

“Jammu and Kashmir dispute was not mentioned in the context of unresolved long-running situations,” said Amjad Hussain B Sial, Pakistan’ acting envoy to the UN.

“We understand this was an inadvertent omission, as Jammu and Kashmir is one of the oldest disputes on agenda of the Security Council,” he added.

Sial was speaking at the UN General Assembly session, which was discussing the functioning and reform of the Security Council. It was organised by the UK that holds the presidency of the Security Council this month. […]

Pakistan, which objects to India being on the Council, argued that the new council should include a few large states, a number of medium sized States and a majority of smaller States.

“We support the position of the Organization of Islamic Conference demanding adequate representation of Muslim Ummah in the Security Council,” said Sial.

Jihad Watch

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As I reported, two science messaging efforts were launched Monday, amid much misreporting.

One of those efforts, by the American Geophysical Union, has bent over backwards to avoid appearing to have any connection whatsoever to policy.  The question is whether they have bent so far they have broken in two.

Climate scientist and AGU President Michael J. McPhaden, said “AGU is a scientific society, not an advocacy organization” — a distinction that was lost on many, like MJ’s Kate Sheppard:

I’m troubled by the idea that AGU set up in this press release by creating a delineation between “a scientific society” and “an advocacy organization.” This statement makes it appear that any effort to fight skeptics on climate science would by nature be “advocacy” work, and that a scientific group, by extension, should not then participate in it.

This only serves to affirm the talking point of climate change deniers that scientists who take the time to explain the science and refute lies and misinformation are engaging in “activism.” The repetition of this false association by such an esteemed scientific group is problematic.

The one thing we can be certain about are the grim consequences humanity faces if we take no serious action to restrict greenhouse gas emissions.  That means another thing we can certain about is that future generations will first be baffled and then increasingly bitter that the scientific community did not view themselves as ‘advocates’ for action.

Take sea level rise.  Within a year of the IPCC, even a major report signed off on by the Bush administration itself conceded that the IPCC numbers were simply too out of date to be quoted anymore (see US Geological Survey stunner: Sea-level rise in 2100 will likely “substantially exceed” IPCC projections).

Multiple studies from the past 3 years have convinced the leading scientists in this field (at least the more than dozen I’ve talked to), virtually all of whom are members of the AGU, that we face one meter of sea level rise this century on our current emissions path — see Report from AGU meeting: One meter sea level rise by 2100 “very likely” even if warming stops? And that would followed by SLR of 6 to 12 inches a decade: PNAS Study:  Sea levels may rise 3 times faster than IPCC estimated, could hit 6 feet by 2100 and links below.

Clearly, the nation isn’t prepared for business as usual SLR, let alone the plausible worst-case which is what much if not most planning is based on.  But the AGU apparently will have a “no comment” policy on that.

The AGU has explained what media questions it will and won’t answer in a section in a post titled, “Science vs. Non-science Questions,” which, I’m afraid, raises more questions than it answers (emphasis in original):

The goal of this AGU-sponsored project is to make the science underpinning the Copenhagen negotiations accessible to journalists. To that end, the email exchange forum is designed to answer questions about the current state of scientific knowledge, with a special emphasis on the physical sciences that relate to climate change. Non-science questions such as those relating to policy, ethics, or economics will be returned to sender for refinement. Here are examples of the types of questions that are out of our scope, along with explanations and suggested refinements:

How much will it cost to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
Why not answered: The cost of greenhouse gas emission reductions is a complex and open question dependent on technology, policy, and economics.
Related (acceptable) question: What are the sources of greenhouse gas emissions?

Sample: What are the best ways of reducing carbon dioxide emissions?
Why not answered: Any ranking of abatement options depends on a number of judgments that include economics, ethics, and politics (The word “best” is what makes this question inappropriate)
Refinement: By how much might some proposed activity reduce carbon dioxide emissions?

Sample: Is current U.S. infrastructure adequate for sea level rise?
Why not answered: Judgments of adequacy involve tradeoffs in risk and in policy.
Refinement: What amount of sea level rise might occur this century?

Sample: Is there too much uncertainty in climate models to use them for planning purposes?
Why not answered: We will not evaluate uncertainty or policy processes.  We can, however, describe the level of uncertainty and explain its sources. The words “too much”  and “for planning purposes” make this question inappropriate.
Refinement: What are the main sources of uncertainty in climate models?

First, while I think it is useful to have a way of linking climate scientists to journalists, I tend to think the AGU’s approach is going to be fairly offputting to journalists who typically don’t want to waste a lot of time getting the answers to their questions.

Second, the service that would be most useful to journalists is one that finds the right person to answer all such questions, not one that refuses to answer any interesting question or that demands the question be changed.  If the AGU won’t do that, my guess is they will lose out to some other group that will.

I hope the Climate Rapid Response Team put together by John Abraham of St. Thomas University in Minnesota and others will be smart enough to be a “one-stop-shop” for journalists and know whom to direct journalist to the answer questions that aren’t purely climate science.

Third, the larger point is that it is very hard to draw a sharp line between “science questions” and others.  I think this is a bizarre judgment by AGU:

Sample: Is current U.S. infrastructure adequate for sea level rise?
Why not answered: Judgments of adequacy involve tradeoffs in risk and in policy.
Refinement: What amount of sea level rise might occur this century?

If a journalist gets an answer to the refined question then the obvious follow-up is whether we are prepared.

It is transparently obvious that, based on the latest science, current US infrastructure is wholly inadequate.  If the AGU is going to forbid its Q&A team from answering such questions, then it is applying a form of political correctness that makes little sense.

For the record, I think the answer to the refined question is something like, “The latest science suggests sea levels will rise 3 to 6 feet this century.  The two biggest uncertainties are 1) the degree to which dynamic ice thinning of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheet occurs and 2) the level of emissions.   We don’t have a full picture of dynamic ice disintegration in the great ice sheets, and so the IPCC essentially chose to ignore it in their projections.  But so far, ice appears to be melting faster than our models had suggested in both Greenland and the West Antarctic ice sheet.  Sea level rise in 2100 could be lower than that range, but on our current emissions path, multiple studies sugggest we are risking the higher end of that estimate.”  Then I’d direct them to a few recent studies.

Any AGU scientist who can’t easily answer “Is current U.S. infrastructure adequate for sea level rise?” probably shouldn’t be talking to the media.

If you can find an AGU scientist who doesn’t think we are headed to sea level rise of around one meter (or higher) if we stay anywhere near our current emissions path, please have them call or email me.  I’d be exceedingly interested in hearing their thinking and learning what the scientific basis is for that view.

Here’s some of the recent science:

Climate Progress

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