Monday, January 19, 2009

More nonsense from the skeptics

I regularly receive angry e-mails from people who believe global warming is just a big hoax. These folks always have a new piece of misinformation to share.

The latest barrage of messages to fill my inbox point to an article by Michael Asher of DailyTech.com, a publication, as one blogger put it, "more focused on iPhones than atmospheric science." Nonetheless, many have accepted Asher's latest story as a legitimate criticism of the theory of man-made climate change. I'll briefly explain why it's not.

Michael Asher is a favorite of the climate skeptic crowd. Late last year, as some may recall, he wrote a widely circulated article claiming ice extent in the Arctic had grown "twice the size of Germany" since 2007. The story received quite a bit of attention, as it appeared to debunk the commonly held belief that Arctic ice is melting away.

In reality though, Asher's article was dead wrong. Instead of using data from September, when the ice reaches its annual low, Asher foolishly used measurements from August, before the melting was complete.
The correct and relevant data would have shown Arctic sea ice continuing its downward trend, surpassed only by the previous year.

Despite Asher's poor research, his misleading argument was picked up and repeated by several popular websites.

Now he has done it again. In his latest piece, Asher says levels of global sea ice are equal to those observed in 1979, implying global warming predictions are incorrect. Of course, he has no clue what he is talking about, as most of the near-term climate predictions focus on regional ice losses, not global. Asher is trying to debunk something he clearly does not understand.

He cites data from the Arctic Climate Research Center at the University of Illinois. Check out their website. They have a ton of useful information, but none of it contradicts the scientific consensus on global warming. In fact, after being bombarded with e-mails about Michael Asher's article, they issued a statement to clarify the issue.

"In the context of climate change," they write, "GLOBAL sea ice area may not be the most relevant indicator." This is an amazingly polite way of saying Asher uses the wrong data.

Climate change models project sea ice area losses in the Northern Hemisphere, but the Southern Hemisphere is a different story. This, again, comes directly from the research center Asher cites in his article:
"Almost all global climate models project a decrease in the Northern Hemisphere sea ice area over the next several decades under increasing greenhouse gas scenarios. But, the same model responses of the Southern Hemisphere sea ice are less certain. In fact, there have been some recent studies suggesting the amount of sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere may initially increase as a response to atmospheric warming through increased evaporation and subsequent snowfall onto the sea ice. ... N. Hemisphere sea ice area is almost one million sq. km below values seen in late 1979 and S. Hemisphere sea ice area is about 0.5 million sq. km above that seen in late 1979, partly offsetting the N. Hemisphere reduction."
In other words, Asher's entire article is based on a false assumption. If he had simply paid attention to the climate models he was critiquing, he would have discovered those wacky climate scientists were spot on.

This past summer, Arctic ice extent reached is second lowest level in recorded history. Perhaps more importantly, the older, thicker perennial ice nose-dived, meaning the total volume of ice appears to have hit an all time low. Scientists now predict the Arctic will be ice-free in the summer time within a few years.

As the Arctic Climate Research Center at the University of Illinois summarized:
"Global climate model projections suggest that the most significant response of the cryosphere to increasing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations will be seen in Northern Hemisphere summer sea ice extent. Recent decreases of N. Hemisphere summer sea ice extent (green line at right) are consistent with such projections."
Listen to the experts, not the idiots.

Monday, December 8, 2008

U.S. proxy kills Iranian hostages, Saudis implicated

The Jundullah, a Pakistani-based militant group said to be secretly backed by the U.S., has reportedly killed more than a dozen kidnapped Iranian police officers. The men were abducted in June at a checkpoint in the province of Sistan-Baluchestan.

The Jundullah, translated as the "Army of God," was demanding the release of 200 of its members from Iranian custody in exchange for the hostages. The police officers were reportedly executed last Wednesday after months of the government refusing to give in to the demands.

According to several reports, the militant group, which claims to represent Iran's Baloch minority, has been covertly supported by the CIA and encouraged to launch attacks inside Iran.

"Some former CIA officers say the arrangement is reminiscent of how the U.S. government used proxy armies, funded by other countries including Saudi Arabia, to destabilize the government of Nicaragua in the 1980s," ABC News reported in April of last year.

According to a recent report by the Arabic website Nahrainnet, Saudi Arabia is assisting the U.S-backed covert operations against Iran.

"According to information obtained from sources in Peshawar, Saudi Arabia has been directly supporting Jundullah to carry out the hostage taking of Iranian police officers," Press TV reported, citing Nahrainnet. "The article claims Saudi Arabia and the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have been using the 'proxy army' to destabilize the government in Iran."

The Iranian government has promised to deliver a "tooth-breaking" retaliation against the Jundullah for executing the police officers, suggesting the U.S.-Iranian proxy war may be heating up.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

For the fans at USAISC

Every now and then it is fun to see if any 'interesting' parties are checking out my website. Last time I checked, I found out Cyveillance, a private intelligence firm, was a regular visitor. That was a while ago.

Now the United States Army Information Systems Command (USAISC) appears to be a big fan.

There is not too much information out there on the USAISC. It appears to be part of the U.S. Army Information Systems Engineering Command (USAISEC), and you can buy this cool patch on eBay. Good luck figuring out exactly what they do.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dissecting Prison Planet’s Nonsense on Climate Change

In a article published on Alex Jones’ popular website, prisonplanet.com, writer Paul Joseph Watson accuses the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) of using deception and fear mongering in a scientific study evaluating the potential effects of climate change.

At first glance, Watson’s argument may seem compelling, but a close analysis exposes the writer’s research as fundamentally flawed and misleading.

Watson’s arguments are reproduced below in bold and critiqued in regular font.

“Global warming fearmongers the World Wildlife Fund have been caught in a new act of deception after citing shrinking Arctic ice coverage to suggest climate change is ‘faster and more extreme’ than first thought, while failing to acknowledge that Arctic sea ice expanded over an area bigger than the size of Germany during the year of 2008.”

“For the WWF and the London Telegraph to use 2007 data and completely discount a gigantic 30 per cent increase in Arctic sea ice coverage from August 2007 to August 2008 is not only misleading, it is completely dishonest and atypical of the politicized agenda-driven global warming lobby.”

There are several basic aspects of the Arctic environment Watson is not taking into account. Before evaluating scientific research, one should be familiar with the basics of the material.

Ice in the Arctic goes through an annual cycle of melting and expanding. The ice has ‘expanded over an area bigger than the size of Germany’ numerous times, not just in 2008. This does not, in any way, discredit the theory of global warming. Climatologists are fully aware of this cycle and use it analyze environmental changes.

The ice usually reaches its annual peak in March and its annual low in September. The following chart, utilizing satellite data dating back to 1980, illustrates this cycle and shows a very clear pattern of steadily decreasing ice levels in the summer time.


(Image made available by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

Watson accuses the World Wildlife Fund of omitting critical facts in an attempt deceive the public. In reality, Watson is the one presenting incomplete and misleading information.

Watson acknowledges the last two years, but decides to discount the past thirty. As the above chart shows, the ice extent has been getting consistently lower in the summer for almost three decades. While it is true 2008 did not break the 2007 record, the overall downward trend continued just as climatologists predicted. In fact, many studies now suggest the Arctic will be ice-free in the summer within five years, decades ahead of many original projections.

Watson also fails to mention the difference between the loss of seasonal ice and the loss of older, thicker perennial ice. As summarized this March by the Washington Post, “the very old ice, which remains in the Arctic for at least six years, made up more than 20 percent of the Arctic in the mid- to late 1980s, but by this winter it had decreased to 6 percent.”

“Because we had a cold winter, the public might think things have gotten better," said Walter Meier of the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder. “In fact, the loss of the perennial ice makes clear that they're not getting better at all.”

"According to collated data from the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and the University of Illinois, Arctic ice extent was 30 per cent greater on August 11, 2008 than it was on the August 12, 2007. This is a conservative estimate based on the map projection."

Here Watson uses old, incomplete and largely irrelevant information.

To compare the total ice melt from two separate years, the statistics must be taken from September when the ice reaches its lowest point. This is easily accessible information that should have been included in Watson’s analysis, although it would have refuted his main point.

The true figures show summer ice in 2008 melted to the second lowest level on record, surpassed only by the previous year. The measurements from August show a nine percent difference between 2007 and 2008, not thirty percent as Watson suggests.

Watson cites NASA satellite data, but a quick search of NASA’s website discredits his argument. This particular NASA article takes into account all of the pertinent satellite data and states: “While slightly above the record-low minimum set Sept. 16, 2007, this season further reinforces the strong negative trend in summer sea ice extent observed during the past 30 years.”

This is considered basic knowledge within the climate community.

“The 30 per cent increase coincided with a record low in sunspot activity over the same period, again proving that climate change is driven by natural catalysts as it has been throughout history.”

Again, Watson uses incomplete and inaccurate information.

As shown above, the “30 percent” figure is wrong. The actual difference is nine percent. More to the point, Watson boldly cites this as “proof” of a direct link between sunspot activity and recent changes in climate, a theory discredited and discounted several times over.

It is indeed true that sunspot activity effects environment. It is also true that sunspot activity is at its lowest point since 1954, but there is no correlation between this lull, or any other historical sunspot trend, and the radical changes in climate now attributed to greenhouse gas emissions. There are countless examples to establish this point.

In addition to the disappearing ice, Arctic air temperatures have climbed to record levels. This follows a warming trend dating back to the mid-1960s. If sunspots were, as Watson asserts, the predominant factor influencing the environment in the Arctic, one would expect to see record low temperatures.

The recent global warming trend correlates with emissions of greenhouse gases, not solar activity.

“[The lack of sunspot activity] is why we are seeing evidence of natural global cooling all over the planet… All the evidence is screaming out that the planet has now embarked on a cooling trend to follow the natural warming trend that caused Arctic ice to shrink in the first place…”

The lower temperatures this year have been attributed to a La Nina weather pattern, not sunspots. As climatologists predicted in January, this year is expected to be cooler than the last few, but still well above average. Nothing about this is a mystery and it certainly doesn’t refute the theory of man-made climate change. Average global temperatures have been rising and are expected to continue rising once La Nina passes.

A ‘trend’ typically exhibits a pattern. There is no evidence of a global cooling pattern, just the opposite. Watson relies on a few selective examples from a single year, while failing to acknowledge La Nina and the very real warming trend of the past half-century.

A thorough, objective writer would have been able to find this basic information online through a simple search. The fact that none of it was included in Watson’s report is indicative of sloppy research and a desire to prove a predetermined conclusion before evaluating all the evidence. Watson has chosen to critique the scientific consensus on global warming, but he clearly does not understand the fundamental principles behind the theory.

Watson accuses the WWF of pursuing a "misleading" and “completely dishonest” political agenda, but fails to deliver a single substantive point to support his claim. Watson uses inaccurate information, excludes important facts and frames the majority of his arguments around false premises. It is clear that Watson and prisonplanet.com are the ones deceiving the public when it comes to the reality of climate change, not environmental groups like the WWF.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

SHEDDING LIGHT on the SHADOW GOVERNMENT, PART II

Emergency Authorities of Executive Order 12656

During the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Bush Administration activated a highly clandestine program known as Continuity of Government (COG). The emergency program, sometimes referred to as the "shadow" government, was later extended indefinitely and is believed to still be partially active as of this writing.

Although the details regarding the COG operations are classified, executive orders and past investigative reports indicate the protocols could be used to override some of the nation’s most fundamental laws.

In November of 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed Executive Order 12656, assigning sweeping emergency powers to the President and each cabinet member. The document offers a rare glimpse of the government’s continuity plans.

Executive Order 12656 advises government leaders to supersede conventional laws in order to carry out the emergency procedures. The order instructs each department head to identify “areas where additional legal authorities may be needed” and “consistent with applicable Executive orders, take appropriate measures toward acquiring those authorities.”

The special protocols, the presidential order states, “will be designed and developed to provide maximum flexibility to the President.”

In the event of an emergency, Executive Order 12656 may alter the traditional rules governing domestic military operations.

Existing laws, such the Posse Comitatus Act and the Insurrection Act, strictly regulate the use of military forces on U.S. soil. Executive Order 12656, however, calls on the Secretary of Defense and the Attorney General to establish emergency rules outlining “specific procedures by which military assistance to civilian law enforcement authorities may be requested, considered, and provided.”

The Attorney General is to plan for “emergency law enforcement activities that are beyond the capabilities of State and local agencies." The Justice Department is to prepare for emergency “civil disturbances” and “terrorism incidents,” as well as create special procedures for the “custody and protection of prisoners and the use of Federal penal and correctional institutions.”

Executive Order 12656 calls on the government to take control of essential resources, including water, food, land, energy, transportation systems and even a civilian workforce.

Managing the nation’s water supply would be the responsibility of the Secretary of Defense. Acting through the Army, the Secretary of Defense is to have plans for the “management, control, and allocation of all usable waters from all sources within the jurisdiction of the United States.”

Similarly, the Secretary of Agriculture is to have plans to secure the nation’s food supply and agricultural resources. Under the protocols, the Department of Agriculture would be responsible for distributing seed, feed, fertilizer, and farming equipment to agricultural producers.

In the early 1990s there were even reports of a food rationing program that would allocate calories for each citizen.

Executive Order 12656 calls for emergency regulation of the nation’s energy supplies. The Energy Secretary is instructed to create “energy supply and demand strategies to ensure continued provision of minimum essential services.”

Executive Order 12656 calls on the Secretary of Transportation to be able take control of the nation’s transportation resources, including privately owned automobiles, urban mass transit systems, trucks, water vessels, and railroads.

Executive Order 12656 instructs the Selective Service System to prepare for an emergency military draft, while the Office of Personnel Management is to have procedures ready for the conscription of federal civilian employees.

According to a 1992 report by TIME magazine, the emergency plans once included a standby national censorship office, the Wartime Information Security Program (WISP), that would be responsible for restricting news coverage during a crisis. The censorship unit was allegedly shut down after being exposed by press reports, but according to TIME, “its duties were discreetly reassigned to yet another part of what an internal memo refers to as the ‘shadow’ government.”

Executive Order 12656 prioritizes the development of government relationships with private corporations. “Federal plans,” the documents states, “should include appropriate involvement of and reliance upon private sector organizations.”

The Secretary of Defense is instructed to work with private industries to develop “capabilities for the rapid increase of defense production.”

The Secretary of Commerce is to assist the Defense Secretary to “improve the international competitiveness of specific domestic industries and their abilities to meet defense program needs.”

The Secretary of Commerce is also to formulate plans for regulating imports and exports. Any materials considered to be “critical and strategic” are to be stockpiled by the Department of Defense and other federal agencies.

Executive Order 12656 instructs the Secretary of the Treasury to establish emergency plans for “encouraging capital inflow and discouraging the flight of capital from the United States.”

The Secretary of the Treasury is also to provide for the "preservation of, and facilitate emergency operations of, public and private financial institution systems, and provide for their restoration during or after national security emergencies."

The Secretary of Health and Human Services is instructed to have emergency plans for eliminating the hazards caused by biological, chemical, and radiological agents.

The Secretary of Health and Human Services is to establish plans to provide emergency civilian services, “including lodging, feeding, clothing, registration and inquiry, social services, family reunification and mortuary services and interment.”

Executive Order 12656 appears to call for special foreign policy initiatives. The Secretary of State is vaguely called upon to provide “overall foreign policy coordination in the formulation and execution of continuity of government and other national security emergency preparedness activities that affect foreign relations.” The Secretary of State is also obscurely called upon to assist the “appropriate agencies in developing planning assumptions concerning accessibility of foreign sources of supply.”

The special procedures outlined in Executive Order 12656 are intended for any national emergency, which the document broadly defines as “any occurrence, including natural disaster, military attack, technological emergency, or other emergency, that seriously degrades or seriously threatens the national security of the United States.”

Days after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush officially declared a national emergency that remains in effect to this day. This September the President is expected to extend the state of emergency for the seventh consecutive year.

Executive Order 12656 outlines just some of the extraordinary authorities the government may assume under the President’s declaration.

The government has been developing highly secretive emergency programs for over half a century, but until recent years most of these plans were thought to be reserved for the worst of disasters, primarily nuclear war. Now the extra-constitutional protocols could become official policies at any time.

Executive Order 12656 remains valid and is being used by the Bush Administration to formulate policy. The document was cited as recently as February of this year in two “Federal Continuity Directives” issued by the Department of Homeland Security.

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Read more...

Executive Order 12656

"The Doomsday Blueprints," TIME Magazine, August 10, 1992

National Emergency Declaration, September 14, 2001, Latest Continuation Notice

NSPD-51 and HSPD-20, May 9, 2007

Federal Continuity Directives, February 2008

Thursday, July 17, 2008

SHEDDING LIGHT on the SHADOW GOVERNMENT, PART I

1991 CNN Report: Secret Succession Plans Would Grant Cheney Special Authorities During Disaster

“In the United States of America there is a hidden government about which you know nothing.”

So begins a revealing television exposé aired by CNN in 1991. The hour-long Special Assignment presented the findings of a yearlong CNN investigation into the ultra-secretive Continuity of Government (COG) program, commonly referred to as the “doomsday government” or the “shadow government”.

The COG program was originally designed in the 1950s to ensure the survival of the federal government in the event of a nuclear attack. The highly secretive emergency plans were substantially upgraded during the 1980s and have become a focus point of the current administration, particularly since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

The COG program, which until recent years was believed to be reserved for nuclear disasters, was officially activated for the first time during the 9/11 attacks. The program, according to the most recent reports, was never completely shut down. Portions of the “shadow government” are presumably still operating to this day.

Recent efforts to reform and expand the emergency protocols, according to the best available reports, have been led by Vice President Dick Cheney, who played a major role in the COG program during the Reagan Administration.

The underground program is historically run out of the office of the Vice President through a clandestine agency, identified by CNN as the National Program Office (NPO).

In 1991, CNN found the Continuity of Government program and National Program Office to be rife with waste, fraud, and abuse.

The CNN report also disclosed the existence of a secret succession plan that would allow individuals outside of government to take positions of power in the event of a national emergency.



According to the traditional legal line of succession, should the President of the United States be killed or incapacitated the Vice President will take his place, followed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President pro tempore of the Senate, the Secretary of State, all the way down to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the most recently added Secretary of Homeland Security.

According to CNN, however, the COG program maintains its own “top secret” succession plan, known only to a few select individuals.

Once activated, the alternative succession plan, known officially as the Presidential Successor Support System, or PS3, would suspend the traditional line of succession and allow a small group of officials to appoint a new government.

CNN revealed the names of several individuals that could assume power should the plan be put into effect. These included current Vice President Dick Cheney, former White House Chief of Staff Howard Baker, former CIA Director Richard Helms, former ambassador and National Security Council member Jeane Kirkpatrick, former Secretary of Defense and CIA Director James Schlesinger, former Attorney General and National Security Council member Edwin Meese, former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh, and the late former congressman Tip O’Neill.

“In the event of disaster,” CNN reported, “one of them could become president.”

Critics with knowledge of the program said the secret plans violated the Constitution.

“When you compare this program with the Constitution,” one high-level government official said, “the two don’t match up.” The COG plans, according to this source, “could put the American system of checks and balances in the deep freeze.”

William Van Alstyne, a constitutional scholar from Duke University, said the program’s secrecy undermined its credibility. “If no one knows in advance what the line of succession is meant to be,” he noted, “then almost by hypothesis no one will have any reason to believe that those who claim to be exercising that authority in fact possess it.”