Saturday, March 11, 2006


The article below may be correct. But it seems most unlikely. Aircraft wiring insulated with a plastic product going by the trade-name of Kapton was the subject of big safety concerns in the 90s and was as a consequence phased out and replaced by double-insulated wiring which added a sheath of teflon around the Kapton. The double-insulated wiring is to my knowledge (and I am no expert) now used on most commercial aircraft. But because they have had some minor role in calling attention to past safety problems, the folks at the Green/Left magazine "Mother Jones" have leapt into glad action now that they have noted another problem that seems to involve Kapton. Apparently a problem switch in some Ford trucks uses the same Teflon/Kapton "sandwich" that aircraft wiring uses. But you will note below NO mention of the fact that commercial aircraft use it. My guess is that if it is safe in airliners, it is safe in your pickup.

Note that even this anti-Kapton site does not criticize use of the Teflon/Kapton "sandwich" in aircraft. It says: "By 1992, Boeing was out of Kapton and into its new and safe TKT, a Kapton insulation wrapped in a teflon "sandwich" with which there have been no major recorded problems".

It is probably very awful of me but the fact that "unsafe at any speed" Ralph Nader is involved in the latest scare also makes me think it is all hokum

"Why in God's name would you use this material?" asks former Pentagon analyst Edward Block. He's referring to Kapton, a plastic film often used to insulate wire. "It's like having dynamite in your suitcase." Block is a wiring expert who is among those responsible for banning Kapton in most military aircraft because of its propensity to erupt into flames. That was in the 1980s. In the 1990s, the Coast Guard eliminated Kapton from its helicopter fleet, NASA grounded the shuttle fleet for five months while inspecting damaged Kapton wire, and the Clinton administration called aging Kapton wiring an issue of "national concern." The Australian, Israeli, and Canadian governments have all investigated and in many cases prohibited its use in their planes.

So why is Kapton still in millions of Ford cars, trucks, and SUVs? Since the early 1990s, the company has used this DuPont-manufactured material in the hydraulic pressure switch that shuts off cruise control when drivers hit the brakes. Coated with Teflon, Kapton serves as a barrier between the flammable brake fluid and the electric current just millimeters away. Yet years of use can cause cracking in the Teflon, leaving the Kapton membrane and the switch itself vulnerable to ignition from the current-which, in Ford vehicles, continues even when the engine is off. "Imagine your insulating material," Block says, "which is designed to hold in or contain current, acting like a sparkler."

In the past seven years, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has investigated the role of these switches in more than 500 blazes that have ravaged cars, houses, and garages, and reportedly killed at least one person. The agency analyzed 260 cases of fires in Ford sedans-Crown Victorias, Lincoln Town Cars, and Mercury Grand Marquises-with model years between 1992 and 1997. In 1999, the company recalled nearly 300,000 of those vehicles. And by March of last year, the NHTSA had received more than 200 complaints of fires in Ford trucks-F-150 pickups, Expeditions, and Lincoln Navigators-with model years from 1995 to 2002.

But Ford maintains that the root cause of the fires is too complex to fault a single component. Although the automaker acknowledges evidence of overheating in the cruise-control components in some models-attributing it to a "systems interaction" of leaking brake fluid, Teflon corrosion, age and mileage, plus the location of the switch-it has recalled less than a third of the vehicles with the Kapton switches.

Gail Chandler, a spokeswoman for Texas Instruments, which manufactures the switches, insists they're safe. "We don't think there's anything wrong with the switch itself or with Kapton," she says. "We've thoroughly tested these products and have not found there to be a problem." Ford spokeswoman Kristen Kinley agrees. "We do not believe the switch is the root cause of these under-hood fires," she says. "Therefore, the Kapton also is not the issue."

Last September, the NHTSA made some headway, as Ford contacted owners of 3.8 million of its vehicles, asking them to go to local dealerships to have their cruise controls disconnected. Eventually, they could have the feature restored with a new part installed that would act as a circuit breaker in case of overheating. The recall was the fifth largest in American automotive history, but it still leaves 11 million cars and trucks with Kapton switches on the road. The investigation continues.

A two-year NHTSA study of Ford sedans with switch fires stressed that cracking in the Kapton barrier was caused by wear and abnormal stresses during the manufacturing process. NHTSA spokesman Rae Tyson won't speculate on Kapton's role in the current investigation, maintaining that dozens of engineering and environmental variables are involved. "We really do need to understand the root cause of failure, and we aren't there yet," he says.

Nearly 30 years after the Ford Pinto fiasco was exposed by this magazine, consumer advocates are now confronting Ford for being slow to address this known fire threat. Ralph Nader chastised the automaker in early September: "Ford Motor Company's sluggish and piecemeal approach to its automotive responsibilities betrays motorists' safety. If this part has now been recalled on three separate occasions, why isn't it simply removed from the fleet?" In an open letter to Ford CEO William Clay Ford Jr., Nader added: "How much longer will you allow this $20 part to imperil the public?"


Yep! Just as cooling can be proof of global warming, trees can be a sign of a desert to Greenies. Happening at the moment in Porto Alegre, Brazil, is a United Nations "conference" on agrarian reform. And to get their rocks off, there has just been a "coincidental" activity:

"About 2,000 protesters on Wednesday invaded a plantation in southern Brazil owned by Aracruz, the world's biggest producer of bleached eucalyptus pulp, and caused what the company said was millions of dollars of damage and losses. The demonstrators, most of them women, said they opposed the mass cultivation of eucalyptus trees near one of Aracruz's four main factories in Brazil. The pulp is used to produce cellulose, the main ingredient of paper. "We don't want the green desert of the cellulose firms. We want a country that produces food," said Irma Ostroski, coordinator for the Via Campesina peasants' organization which staged the raid on the Barba Negra farm in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil's southernmost state.

Aracruz said the demonstrators destroyed saplings and laboratory equipment. "They smashed up the heart of the farm," Aracruz's regional orchard director Renato Rostirolla said. The damage included the loss of 20 per cent of the saplings ready for planting -- about one million plants. "The laboratory was completely destroyed, especially seeds and tests, and broken computers," he said. The lost tests included 15 years worth of genetic research. Actual damage was about $400,000 but the intangible losses ran to millions of dollars, Aracruz said in a statement.

Agricultural Development Minister Miguel Rossetto condemned the action in a statement from Brasilia. State governor Antonio Hohlfeldt said police had video of the damage and intended to investigate those responsible. Although Via Campesina publicized the invasion on its Web site, it did not mention any damage. When asked by Reuters, Ostroski said the protesters staged a "symbolic action" of destroying saplings. "As we were more than 2,000 women, it's impossible to say how far people went," she said."

The result: Aracruz is suspending a projected billion dollar investment in Porto Alegre, which pleases the Porto Alegrans no end. Who wants jobs? Brazil already has huge unemployment. Why not a little more? To the wreckers of the Green/Left, unemployment is fine and dandy. It just generates more discontent for them to feed on. More here


Below is what appears to be an official NASA comment on the Zwally et al paper discussed on this blog yesterday (second post down). I have corrected below the repeated misspelling of "losses". A very scholarly bunch! I have reddened the amusing bits and done a little bit of fisking (in italics)

In the most comprehensive survey ever undertaken of the massive ice sheets covering both Greenland and Antarctica, NASA scientists confirm climate warming is changing how much water remains locked in Earth's largest storehouses of ice and snow. "If the trends we're seeing continue and climate warming continues as predicted, the polar ice sheets could change dramatically," said survey lead author Jay Zwally of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. "The Greenland ice sheet could be facing an irreversible decline by the end of the century."

Other recent studies have shown increasing losses of ice in parts of these sheets. This new survey is the first to inventory the losses of ice and the addition of new snow on both continents in a consistent and comprehensive way throughout an entire decade.

The survey shows there was a net loss of ice from the combined polar ice sheets [To spell that out: Northern icecap growing and Southern icecap shrinking. Not so impressive when you put it that way, though] between 1992 and 2002 and a corresponding rise in sea level. The survey documented for the first time extensive thinning of the West Antarctic ice shelves, an increase in snowfall in the interior of Greenland and thinning at the edges. All are signs of a warming climate predicted by computer models.

The survey combines new satellite mapping of the height of the ice sheets from two European Space Agency satellites. It also used previous NASA airborne mapping of the edges of the Greenland ice sheets to determine how fast the thickness is changing. Researchers used nine years of elevation mapping over much of Antarctica and 10.5 years of data over Greenland from the European Remote-sensing Satellites 1 and 2. The survey pinpointed where the ice sheets were thinning and where they were growing. In Greenland, the survey saw large ice losses along the southeastern coast and a large increase in ice thickness at higher elevations in the interior due to relatively high rates of snowfall. This study suggests there was a slight gain in the total mass of frozen water in the ice sheet over the decade studied, contrary to previous assessments.

According to Zwally, this situation may have changed in just the past few years [Zwally disowns his own work]. Last month NASA scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., reported a speed up of ice flow into the sea from several Greenland glaciers. That study included observations through 2005; Zwally's survey concluded with 2002 data. "The melting of ice at the edges of the ice sheet is also increasing, which causes the ice to flow faster," Zwally said. "A race is going on in Greenland between these competing forces of snow build-up in the interior and ice loss on the edges. But we don't know how long they will be approximately in balance with each other or if that balance has already tipped in favor of the recently accelerating outflow from glaciers."

The situation was very different in Antarctica. The ice sheets had a major net loss of ice due to outflow from West Antarctica. These losses, which may have been going on for decades, outweighed the gains in snow and ice seen in the East Antarctic ice sheet and parts of West Antarctica. Also thinning were the ice shelves around West Antarctica, where temperatures have been increasing. The floating ice shelves are vulnerable to climate change. Some ice shelves in the Antarctic Peninsula have totally disintegrated in recent years, allowing the ice from the land to move into the ocean faster.

When the scientists added up the gains and losses of ice from the Greenland and Antarctic sheets, there was a net loss of ice to the sea. The Greenland ice sheet annually gained approximately 11 billion tons of water, while Antarctica lost about 31 billion tons per year. The 20 billion net tons added to the oceans is equivalent to the amount of fresh water annually used in homes, businesses and farming in New York, New Jersey and Virginia.

"The study indicates that the contribution of the ice sheets to sea-level rise during the decade studied was much smaller than expected [Whoops! Models all wrong again!], just two percent of the recent increase of nearly three millimeters (0.12 inches) a year," Zwally said. "Current estimates of the other major sources of sea-level rise - expansion of the ocean by warming temperatures and runoff from low-latitude glaciers - do not make up the difference, so we have a mystery on our hands [What an excellent basis for policy!] as to where the water is coming from. Continuing research using NASA satellites and other data will narrow the uncertainties in this important issue and help solve the mystery."

A more intelligent approach to conservation

Replacing coercion with incentives for co-operation

Nearly 500,000ha of private land in Queensland has been declared a flora and fauna refuge by its owners. Environment Minister Desley Boyle told State Parliament yesterday another 21 landholders had signed up for the Government's nature refuge program. "Their properties - from the wet tropics in far north Queensland to Mount Tamborine in the south - cover 2379ha and bring the total number to 182, covering 412,700ha," she said.

Ms Boyle said the program, initiated in October 2003, gave individual landowners the power to protect native plants and animals by signing an agreement with the Environment Protection Agency that stays in place after on-selling. Incentives to sign up includes reimbursement of land transfer duty and tax for eligible landowners under an associated Green Reward scheme. Since the scheme started, $111,000 had been reimbursed to 19 eligible landholders covering 8105ha of land, Ms Boyle said.

The latest land added to the program includes habitats for the green ringtail possum, rufous owl, grey goshawk and glossy black cockatoos.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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