Was 911 Caused by Global Warming?
People keep helpfully sending me articles and such about the 911 conspiracy. Clearly a subject of some interest among people. 911 conspiracy theorists argue that the 911 attacks were an inside job, that elements of the Bush administration conspired to blow up the WTC and attack the Pentagon in order to justify and launch Bush’s War on Terror. The first question I always ask these folks is to explain the significance of the date: 9-11. If they can’t answer that, I know I am dealing with someone who hasn’t bothered to acquaint themselves with even the most basic superficial facts about 911, and I can safely turn my Ipod back up while they drone on happily about robot planes, missiles, and shaped charges. Hint: It wasn’t due to the fact that 911 is the emergency phone number in the USA.
However, since this ties in neatly with my obsession with logic and fallacious arguments, I thought I’d discuss a few random elements of the ever evolving 911 conspiracy theory. In fact the theory has grown to almost breathtaking levels, if they are to be believed 911 was the most elaborate conspiracy in history involving not only the destruction of the buildings, but elaborate plots to feed the media false information and even including such things as having witnesses on the scene to mislead the public about what they saw. At this rate, in a few years the conspiracy is going to involve everyone in America who doesn’t believe in the 911 conspiracy. Yes, that’s right, my anti-Bush and anti-war stand is all elaborate cover, I too must be part of the conspiracy. Sigh.
My first problem with the theory is this. The 911 conspiracy people are claiming that one of the most disorganized, politically and ideologically driven, and dare I say it, corrupt administrations in US history managed to put together the most elaborate conspiracy in history in their first few months of office? And not only pulled it off, but have continued the deception to this day? A conspiracy that must have involved hundreds of people, and a huge paper and email trail, yet not a single person nor shred of evidence has come to light? I mean, we are talking about the Bush administration here, right? The people who couldn’t even be bothered to plan the occupation of Iraq? Frankly, I have trouble moving past just this objection.
Another thing that others me is the method now being used to support their theories. Lately there has been a big push to obsessively go over every minute of news coverage that day and every other shred of information about that day in search of discrepancies in the time line, factual inaccuracies, or other evidence that supports their theory. While I admire their diligence, this type of evidence gathering is called retrofitting. This is where you search for evidence that supports your theory. This is neither logical nor scientific, because using this method one can support any theory. Using this method Velikovsky “proved” that Venus was spawned by Jupiter in historic times and Gavin Menzies “proved” that the Chinese circumnavigated the globe in 1421. Neither of those “theories” has any validity either, they have both failed miserably when put to any sort of scientific and logical enquiry.
In other words, because a reporter claimed that WTC 7 had collapsed when it was still standing behind her in the distance proves nothing except that a lot of rumour and mistakes were broadcast that very confused day. I’m sure she nor anyone else watching knew what WTC 7 even looked like, so confusion is understandable. I might also add, why in the name of God would people who were engineering a plot that would murder thousands of Americans go the the insane extra risk of involving elements of the media in their plan? It doesn’t make sense, in fact it’s kind of silly that it is even being seriously suggested.
Moving on to a few specifics now, the whole steel framed building thing. It’s been claimed that no steel framed building ever collapsed because of fire. This simply isn’t true of course, steel framed buildings burn and collapse all the time, what I think they mean as that no traditional steel framed skyscraper has ever collapsed as the result of a fire. This is true, no doubt about it, at least until 911 no traditional steel framed skyscraper had collapsed as a result of a fire. However, and it’s a pretty big however, there’s two major problems with this line of reasoning.
The first is that there has never been a fuel filled airliner crashing into a skyscraper before. So we are dealing with a unique situation here, not only was there a fire, there was also extensive damage caused by the crashing airliner. The thousands of gallons of fuel they was carrying added considerably to the fuel load in the building. (Some have tried to claim that the kerosene was all burned off in the initial crash and explosion, this is simply wrong, kerosene is about the least explosive liquid fuel.) So basically we have a fire of unprecedented scope burning in these buildings, fuelled by jet fuel, as well as hundreds of tons of furnishings, paper, carpeting, and sadly…human body fat. This enormous fire and crash damage is unprecedented, and it’s simply inaccurate and misleading to compare it to previous much smaller fires in steel framed buildings.
Secondly, a point that 911 conspiracists seem to be for the most part completely ignorant of, the two towers were not a traditional steel framed building. Their construction style was in fact unique, no other building has ever been built like them. Instead of relying on a huge heavy steel framework that basically just sat there and supported itself through its own massive structural strength, the WTC consisted of a much lighter inner and outer steel lattice cores that were dynamically supported by the floors attaching the two frameworks to each other. Each whole building was one big structurally interconnected unit, and if they inner and out steel cores became disconnected, the whole house of cards would collapse. This is what most experts believe happened, the steel clips attaching the floors to the inner and outer frame were weakened by the fire to the point where they failed, and the whole shebang came down.
As for WTC 7 collapsing some hours later, and it was a traditional steel framed building, here we have a situation where an uncontrolled fire burned for hours. And WTC 7 was badly damaged by debris from the collapsing twin towers. Again, a unique and unprecedented situation. My point is that there is no need to invoke shaped charges or other exotic causes to explain the collapse of these buildings. There’s nothing mysterious about how and why they collapsed.
Oh well, as usual I expect outraged people to post links proving that I am wrong. The conspiracy theory is never going to go away, so in some senses I’m pissing into the wind here. It’s a shame really, because all this distracts people from the real and important questions about 911. The main thing being, how the hell did the most profligately funded defense and intelligence agencies in history fail so badly to detect and prevent this perfectly predictable attack? Let me review: Known target, known enemy who had tried to destroy the target before, method of attack that had been discussed as early as 1970. Frankly I find the almost mind numbing incompetence that allowed this to happen to be far more frightening than any conspiracy, and I do wonder if the conspiracists are sticking to their theory because it’s more comforting than the possibility that our bloated government and defense institutions really are basically useless?
This is the real tragedy of 911, and the reason it will happen again someday. The incompetence and internal politics that allowed 911 to happen have not only not been addressed, the people who allowed the problem to happen simply added another layer of bureaucracy to “fix” the problem. Not to mention adding fat to the fire by invading foreign countries and taking sides in insurgencies all over the world that had nothing to do with the USA, and thus inspiring millions of people who couldn’t have found America on a map to hate our guts. Yeah, that’s gonna help.
This is why I don’t worry abut another 911. It’s like worrying about the sun coming up, what’s the point? I just hope I’m not nearby when it happens.
(The above image of a flag found at the WTC site is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit and it is an historically important image. Credit: McCormick Tribune Foundation Freedom Museum)