6.29.2013

By Focusing on Global Warming as Public Enemy #1 We've Mistaken a Symptom for the Disease


In 1962 Racheal Carson's classic 'Silent Spring' was published. It argued that DDT was poisoning wildlife, the environment and endangering human health. The public's reaction to it launched the modern environmental movement. Eight years later in 1970, in honour of the first Earth Day, Pogo told us that he'd met our environment's enemy and that it was us.

The modern environmental movement was initiated in response to the disease of widespread environmental degradation being caused by humanity's over-consumption and wasting of the planet's limited resources. The modern environmental movement formed back then wasn't just about any one particular symptom but the underlying disease. Now, half a century later, that earlier focus of the debate on the disease is to often focused narrowly on the human induced climate change symptom.

By focusing on global warming as public enemy #1 we've fallen into the trap of mistaking a symptom for the disease. All types of environmental degradation are caused by human intervention into natural processes. The environmental movement must be about the disease of environmental degradation that is being caused by the over consumption of resources and the resulting pollution from the byproducts of the extractive culture supplying it.

The modern environmental movement must refocus its sights on human demand and the culture of consumer capitalism feeding it as well as the impossible endless growth fantasy necessary to fulfill that fantasy. This larger topic is being obscured by allowing our focus to be trapped by the narrow debate around the role of human CO2 production in global warming [AGW].

mr. mud wonders why it's happening? Is it because AGW is a simple subject? It isn't. Or is that obscuring the real issue of our demand driven over-consumption allows the wheels of consumer capitalism to keep rolling along? Or is it because a corporate owned and a sensationalism mad mass media saw how easily our attention could be captured by the hyperbolic headlines of impending catastrophic events being offered by AGW?

Somehow by some combination of these, and lottsa other factors, the fickle finger of public attention got funneled onto AGW. Climate science debates swirled around the water coolers, Al Gore's salesmanship of an overly simplified 'Inconvienentt Truth' won big awards with its stunning images and selective truths.

The real truth is that graphs can be as misleading as any other type of statistical information. The real truth is that carefully choosing the historic end points, the area where the data set was collected and the scale of sizes pictured, Micheal Mann, inventor of the controversial Hockey Stick Graph, was able to graphically tell the story he believed to be true. Inconveniently for Mann and Gore those non-believers, for whatever their reasons, immediately jumped up and down in indignation and whipped out their own graphs [like the one below of the last 800,000 years of the EPICA ice cores in Antarctica] that showed our long term temperature record has more hockey sticks than the Vancouver Canucks.


The hockey stick battle touched off the global warming war. Hyperbolic headlines from both encampments sold advertising space. There was, and still is, big money to be made from who wins the war but bigger yet is the money to be made by all those who profit from the long list of other environmentally disastrous insults our planet endures while we remain focused on the uncertain timing, causes and consequences AGW instead of seeing it as it is - one symptom of the disease of demand driven environmental degradation.

6.28.2013

We live in ostrich-time. As Martin Luther King said, "We have guided missiles and misguided men."


H. L. Mencken once said, "Penetrating so many secrets, we cease to believe in the unknowable. But there it sits nevertheless, calmly licking its chops." Once upon a time scientific progress was dedicated to the search for the secret interactions that stood between humans and the unknowable. Gaining leverage from the foothold of known-knowns, it strained to find some new purchase in its attempts to penetrate the secrets of the known-unknowns. But always science's goal was to use each new insight into reality as a bootstrap to catch a glimpse into the cloud of unknown-unknowns that may or may not contain Mencken's unknowable.

Now though we live in a different time, a time when the word scientific progress is usually misunderstood to be interchangeable with technologic progress. Where once scientists were likened to philosophers, now they are more often akin to engineers who cleverly manipulate the known-knowns into novel arrangements in service of the corporate or governmental masters they serve. As Albert Einstein said when commenting on science and technology having become a servant of material and political gain, "Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal."

We, the clever monkeys, are accomplished in technology, in short term gains achieved by avoiding long term costs. Good at convincing ourselves that our chemists know how to overcome nature's balance, that our biologists know how to grow healthy food from poisoned land with GMO seed, that our physicists know how to cope with the unknowns.  As Martin Luther King said, "We have guided missiles and misguided men."

Undermining this mis-placed confidence in our engineering capabilities are the 700 lbs gorillas - known-unknowns of modern science: Like what is gravity, the most basic force in our lives? Like what is the 'dark matter'-'dark energy'  that constitutes 70% of the universe? Or what is every tiny bit that we do know [as it constantly flits in/out of existence] made of - an energy wave or a material particle? Beyond them are the unknown-unknowns where Mencken's unknowable still sits, as always, "calmly licking its chops".

We live in a time when the uncertainty that surrounds and supports us is ignored in favor of what our fear of the unknown dictates, the security of an impossible certainty. We live in ostrich-time. One group relies on their religious leaders' revelations of an imaginary being's pronouncements to sooth their fears. Another relies on the myth of more spun by the bishops of Mammon that endless technological progress guarantees endless growth. Another group, including mr. mud, strains to pull its heads momentarily from the sand and in doing so avoid despair by living and frolicking with their cousins - the flora, fauna, minerals, microbes, forces and faeries - all immersed together in the wonder of the unknown.

6.27.2013

Military, Investors, Insurers, Planners and Spooks Handle Unknown-Unknowns With Risk Management

Way back on February 12, 2002 United States Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld introduced most of us to what has become the gold standard of Risk Management when he said, "There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know.
There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know.
But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don't know.”

Almost all events and projects involve some degree of uncertainty. Risk management is the primary focus of the global military and security agencies as well as the multi trillion dollar insurance and investment industries and those planning any size of event or project. None of their systems are not designed to thwart this type of uncertainty, they can only act to thwart known risks. They all know there are unknown unknowns, they know a black swan event is absolutely guaranteed to occur, but not when.

When investment managers and project planners attend conferences they always listen to lectures that contain practical recommendations on including unknown unknowns into probabilistic cost and schedule risk. They are always advised to have higher capital cushions than their models and formulas otherwise recommend. Investment managers and project planners are schooled to take precautions.

Likewise insurance corporations aren't altruists; they're capitalists, they play hardball economics based on risk analysis, not save-the-polar-bears stuff. They know that a rise in extreme weather means a fall in their profits. Insurance corporations understand risk – which is why they have become increasingly proactive on prevention and adaption strategies toward climate change, in terms of both underwriting and investment.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada believes that adaptation and mitigation are the most cost effective means of addressing severe weather events caused by climate change siting the Stern Report which says that "each tonne of C02 causes damages of at least $85 but can be cut at a cost of $25/tonne."   And Ernst & Young – not known for having to peel bark from their sweater vests after intensive treehugging sessions – named climate change the number one risk to the insurance industry. These corporations don't know care what the unknowable exact causes behind extreme weather events are, they just know it's costing them dearly and are taking precautions to protect their precious profits.

Cities and countries all around the globe are adopting risk management strategies in an attempt to find ways to cope with the climate change unknowns in their futures.

But no group takes risk management prevention more seriously than the military industrial complex [MIC] including their ubiquitous spooks. Scientific American recently suggested that we: "Google US military and climate change to become informed about how our armed forces assess the climate risks." For instance, a few months ago U.S. Adm. Samuel Locklear, the top threat assessment officer in the Pacific, said that climate change “is probably the most likely thing that is going to happen . . . that will cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about.”

Security, that eye of the beholder, fear amplified, Rorschach test of a concept, is where our current headlines and this look at global climate change's unknown unknowns converge. Fear of those unknowns and the reaction of us folks is why Western security agencies have developed such an unprecedented capacity to spy on their own domestic populations. This viewpoint that citizens are potential enemies that must be policed by the state is linked to the last decade of increased surveillance that concentrates on the risk of civil unrest at home triggered by catastrophic events linked to climate change, energy shocks or economic crisis - or all three.

Just last month, unilateral changes to US military laws formally granted the Pentagon extraordinary powers to intervene in a domestic "emergency" or "civil disturbance": The Pentagon knows that environmental, economic and other crises could provoke widespread public anger toward government and corporations in coming years.

The US is far from alone in their paranoid secret targeting of environmental protesters. It was recently revealed that UK environment activists had been routinely categorised as "domestic extremists" targeting "national infrastructure" as part of a wider strategy tracking protest groups and protesters.

As for Canada, Stephen Leahy says, "Police and security agencies describe green groups' protests and petitions as 'forms of attack'. In a Canadian Senate committee on national security and defence meeting Richard Fadden, the director of CSIS said they are more worried about domestic terrorism, acknowledging that the vast majority of its spying is done within Canada. The CSIS Energy and National Security Program hosted a luncheon last year to discuss risk management responses to climate security threats. In response to the question: "How much climate uncertainty are you willing to accept?" CSIS acknowledged that they:
Aim to mitigate to stay below a 2°C increase;
Build and budget for resilience to a 3–4°C increase;
Contingency plan for capability to respond to 5–7°C increase.

CSIS and all of the other 'security' agencies are tight lipped about their plans for black swan event contingencies  Do they have them? Of course they do [and theories abound as to the draconian depths they dive to]. Tomorrow we'll talk about a few of the gorilla sized unknown-unknowns of science in general and where some of our environment's gorillas might be hiding in plain sight of us all.

6.26.2013

Despite Our Emotional Need to Make the Uncertain Nature of Reality Predictable, Shit Happens


Despite the human need to smoooooth out the the unpredictable and uncertain realities of nature as a tonic for our angst the universe refuses to cooperate. From sub-atomic particles to super galactic structures, huge changes often happen when seemingly small perturbations occur which cause a system that appears to be stable to cross an unforeseen threshold.

One example of thresholds we use everyday is the fact that water goes through three states of matter easily and well within the boundaries of our everyday temperature/pressure experience. From frappuccino to cappuccino where would the Starbuckians be without it? Everyday we exploit another threshold changing reality when we turn on an electric light which works because, as we know from Quantum Physics, sub-atomic particles can only exist at certain discrete energy levels. When, either slowly or quickly, a particle absorbs enough energy to cross that level's threshold they instantly jump to the next higher level [valence] then by discharging a discrete quantity of energy [called a photon] they can return to their previous more stable energy level. Good ol' photons, how would we find the fridge without them?

Our small blue marble has been choked full of threshold crossing events during its billions of years long geologic and climatic history. Somehow the primordial soup crossed a threshold and voila, The Big Bang happened. Thresholds are everywhere [i tripped on one this morning]. Our biosphere too is subject to occult ecological thresholds most commonly defined as the non-linearity of the responses in ecological or biological systems to pressures caused by human activities or natural processes. The temperature and climate graph above of our earth's last 700,000,000 years shows that non-linear climate change has been the norm, not the exception, for awhile now.

Almost all opponents of the scientific consensus on anthropocentric global warming {AGW] theory refer to a graph like the one above and say that natural processes have been driving our climate over the thresholds since long before there were humans or human activities, which is true. What isn't true is the speed that those changes, those potential threshold crossings, could now be happening at. What once took place in a relatively short few thousand years now is taking place in a few decades. It seems only logical to infer that our species activities have had a hand in this recent rapid rate of change. It also seems logical then that the curve resulting from our current rate of change may or may not crest and stabilize at the levels the previous ones have.

Another confounding feature of the natural variability argument is that, though the degree of its influence on climate change is uncertain, natural variability has zero effect on so many of the other environmental disasters like the extinctions and the degraded soils and water caused by pesticide and other man-made chemicals or the deleterious effects of deforestation and mining or over fishing or over consumption of resources in general - it's a long list - so as to make it an unlikely candidate for a starring role in the global warming movie.

"Shit happens", as my old buddy Eddie used to say. Despite our emotional need to understand all this uncertain shit happening in some linear manner, sometimes it doesn't, sometimes a straw breaks the camel's back, sometimes the genetic roulette wheel produces a black swan, sometimes the climate is forced across an unknowable threshold and plunges or soars in a non-linear response for thousands of years causing myriad extinctions and planetary changes. It only seems logical to take precautions against crossing an ecological threshold.

Tomorrow we'll take a look at the precautions and plans the military and other security agencies along with the insurance industry and other businesses are taking not because they know where the ecological thresholds are, but because they don't.

6.25.2013

Better To Be Cautious, If You Lose Big at the Climate Model Casino There's No Second Chance


There are 13 climate models, and many variations of each, used by climate modelers to determine what will happen to global temperatures when the CO2 in the atmosphere doubles [with more integrated versions always in the works]. Each of them considers a range parameters. Modelers insert different values [based on the best information available] for each the parameters then let their computer models run each set of numbers. The results end up spread out over a wide range. After multiple runs, each model's results are recorded. Then, after lottsa runs by different modelers making different assumptions about parameter values, the results from all the different models are combined and plotted.

These combined results form an almost perfect standard deviation curve that shows that about 66% of the model's results lie within a range between 1.5C-4.5C degrees. Consequently,  97% of climate scientists agree [the consensus] and use 3C as the most probable projection of global warming when the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere doubles.

Sciences like climate science, and economics that have limited, or no, access to results from repeatable, double blind, experimentation must rely on statistical probabilities to make prognostications about future events. Remembering back a few years at least 97% of the economic models said all was going well and everyone should buy more-more-more. And they were right, until the occult interdependent feedbacks within the financial system crossed some unknown threshold, and they weren't.

Just ask the casino owners in Vegas, probabilities work. Casinos make lottsa dough by understanding probabilities. They know.that every time a bet is made the probabilities, the odds, are that they'll win slightly more than they'll lose. They also know that sooner or later someone will hit the jackpot and set the jackpot limits so as to not bankrupt the casino. In fact casinos love jackpot winners, they plaster the walls with their pictures to encourage more gamblers to make more gambles. Jackpots mean more bets have been made, more profits made by the casino. It's all in the odds.

The standard deviation curve above shows that there is also 16% of the time that the results are below the 'consenous' and 16% of the results are above it. It also shows that the results on either end never reach zero, that there's always a possibility that some combination of initial conditions and unknown feedback interactions can result in a very low probability, non-linear, black swan type outcome.

Jackpots are black swans, they happen. When they happen in Vegas somebody is very happy, when they happen in the climate model casino the environment that sustains us all could cross some threshold that makes us all very extinct, it's all in the odds too. The moral of the story is: don't bet what you can't afford to lose. If you lose big at the casino you can go back to the real world, get a job, earn more money, then choose to return to the casino or not. If you lose big at the climate model casino there's no second chance. One type of bet is exciting the other type of bet is stupid. Whether you consider it or not, when walking into a casino you've already taken some precautions: you know you won't be betting your life or your family's, for instance, and because you know it's only money, you also know it's not THE END.

Tomorrow we'll look at the role thresholds and tipping points play in our scientific understanding of the world generally and the role they appear to have played in our earth's geologic and climatic past. Then we'll touch on a few of the gorilla sized unknown-unknowns of science in general and where some of our environment's gorillas might be hiding in plain sight of us all.

6.24.2013

Positive Feedback Loops Create Problems for Climate Models and Possibly Wicked Outcomes

The global warming effects from positive feedback loops that are in some cases included by some climate models are poorly understood by climate scientists because the extreme complexity of their interactions cause huge uncertainty. The IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report states that "Anthropogenic warming could lead to some effects that are abrupt or irreversible, depending upon the rate and magnitude of the climate change.". The authors of AR4 went on to say, "that scientific understanding of carbon cycle feedbacks was poor".

Until recently climate models looked at a limited set of factors and often measured changes in the ocean and on land separately. One new approach, developed at the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research in Bracknell, accounts for as many influences as possible, including some of the feedback loops both negative and positive. Their attempts, and those of other modelers, to integrate feedback mechanisms have often produced results far outside, both above and below, the 'consensus' numbers by a factor of 10.

One of the most confounding positive feedbacks is the loss of carbon from some types of ecosystems due to increased evaporation as the climate warms and thereby increases the rate of desertification. Desert soils contain little humus, and support little vegetation. Also there's the increased respiration of carbon from soils throughout the high latitude boreal forests of the Northern Hemisphere and much of the Amazon Rainforest. While models disagree on the strength of any terrestrial carbon cycle feedback, they each suggest any such feedback would accelerate global warming, a known unknown.

Another positive feedback that's been overlooked until recently is the release of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) from peat bogs into water courses from where it would in turn enter the atmosphere. Western Siberia, for instance, has a one million square kilometer region of permafrost peat bog that was formed 11,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age. The melting of its permafrost is likely to lead to the release of large quantities of methane.

That issue, Arctic methane release - the release of methane from seas and soils in permafrost regions of the Arctic - is the most accepted positive feedback mechanism and the most feared because of its potential to create non-linear catastrophic change.

Large quantities of methane are stored in the Arctic in natural gas deposits, permafrost, and as submarine clathrates. Permafrost and clathrates degrade on warming, in addition organic matter stored in permafrost generates heat as it decomposes in response to the permafrost melting, thus large releases of methane from these sources may arise as a result of this positive feedback loop.

Staying in the Arctic, there's the ice-albedo feedback loop. When ice melts, land or open water takes its place. Both land and open water are on average less reflective than ice and thus absorb more solar radiation. This causes more warming, which in turn causes more melting, and this cycle continues. Sea ice, and the cold conditions it sustains, serves to stabilize methane deposits on and near the shoreline,  preventing the clathrate breaking down and outgassing methane into the atmosphere. Recent observations in the Siberian arctic show increased rates of methane release from the Arctic seabed as well as the land.

There is about 50 times more carbon in the oceans than there is in the atmosphere and cooler water can absorb more CO2 than warmer water. As ocean temperatures rise the oceans will absorb less CO2 resulting in more warming. In addition to the water itself the ecosystems of the oceans also sequester carbon. Their ability to do so is also expected to decline as the oceans warm because less carbon will be available to be incorporated into the shells and bones throughout every part of the food chain all of which eventually falls to ocean floor and, in the long term, becomes sequestered as limestone.

Then there's water vapor feedback. As the atmosphere is warmed, the saturation vapor pressure increases, and the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere will increase. Since water vapor is a greenhouse gas, the increase in water vapor content makes the atmosphere warm further; this warming causes the atmosphere to hold still more water vapor. A recent study on global warming concluded, “We have high confidence that the most extreme rainfalls will become even more intense."

Of course there's more, far more, feedbacks than can be touched on in one blog post. The point here is that climate models have so many interdependent parameters that it's no wonder they produce such a wide range of results and even less wonder that proponents and opponents alike easily find reasons to disagree with parts, both inputs and outputs, that don't fit their worldview and agree with those that do.

Tomorrow we'll take a look at why climate science, like all of science, uses probability to express its confidence in the most common range of results and why this is a good strategy for directing the focus of further research, but a terrible way to direct public policy and a very dangerous way forward. Dangerous because if a low probability, non-linear, black swan type outcome occurs on the low side [lower sensitivity, less warming] society will simply be over prepared. But if it happens on the high side, as many experts are now warning, there will be no second chance to exercise precaution.

6.22.2013

Climate Modelers Agree That Our Climate's Feedback Interactions are Poorly Understood

The Black-Scholes equation [above] that was the mathematical justification for the trading that plunged the world's banks into catastrophe is a simple cousin to the derivative equations used in climate models.

The Earth's climate is one of the most complex systems there is in large part because of the derivative feedback processes that amplify or diminish the overall 'climate sensitivity'. Feedback in general is the process in which changing one quantity changes a second quantity, and the change in the second quantity in turn changes the first. Now imagine our climate which has hundreds of known feedback mechanisms [whose relative values are hotly debated] and an unknown number of unknown feedbacks who's triggering thresholds are also unknown. Modeling such a system is beyond mind boggling.

Yet that's the task climate science and climate modelers are tasked with. Huge sums of money and maybe even the survival of our species may turn on the projections of this branch of science which attempts to describe the unimaginably complex climate with simple models. The global warming projections contained in the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) include carbon cycle feedbacks.  Authors of AR4, however, noted that scientific understanding of carbon cycle feedbacks was poor.

Yesterday we touched the uncertainty of clouds and aerosols that are difficult to represent in climate models. Today we'll take on a few of the most notable negative feedbacks, all of them are debates about the values given to them when used as parameters in the various types of climate models.

The most hotly debated by physicists is Blackbody Radiation This negative feedback comes from the Stefan–Boltzmann law which says that the amount of infrared radiation from the Earth back into space increases with the fourth power of the temperature of Earth's surface and atmosphere [its absolute temperature]. Proponents and opponents of the consensus agree it exists, but widely disagree on both its initial and subsequent values. It's far beyond the scope of this post or my math skills to go into more detail but a great place to follow the ongoing and evolving arguments of both groups on blackbody radiation, and many other important climate debates, is Judith Curry's influential website, Climate Etc

Next up, Net Primary Productivity which is the increased CO2 sequestration as plants photosynthesis increases in response to increasing concentrations of CO2 and rising temperatures. This too is accepted by both encampments as true broadly speaking however the opponents attach much larger numbers and significance to it [see below]. Opponents often claim that this effect is why CO2 and temperature readings correlate so strongly over the geologic record as we'll talk more about more in a future post on historic and geologic time frame climate graphing.

Then there's the Lapse Rate a term used to describe measurements of the rate of temperature change with height that are very sensitive to small errors in observations, making it difficult to establish whether the models agree with observations. As you'd suspect proponents think they agree well, opponents think the diverge wildly and thereby throw off the models projections.

Followed by Le Chatelier's Principle which states that -the chemical equilibrium of the Earth's carbon cycle will shift in response to anthropogenic CO2 emissions. The primary driver of this is the ocean. Basically, if a chemical system at equilibrium, like our oceans, experiences a change in concentration, temperature, volume, or partial pressure, then the equilibrium shifts to counteract the imposed change and a new equilibrium is established. Opponents say this proves that the oceans will therefore absorb more CO2 in the future to compensate for increased atmospheric CO2 until new equilibrium is established.

Finally, my personal favorite, Chemical Weathering. In the chemical weathering process carbon dioxide in the atmosphere dissolves in rainwater to form carbonic acid, which dissolves rocks and then flows into the oceans. The process was recognized as being one of the major carbon sinks on million-year timescales, but considered as insignificant on timescales of a century. Many experts now agree that this weathering process which stores around 0.3 billion tons of atmospheric carbon in rivers and in the oceans every year
should play a significant role in future climate change models.

Climate modeling scientists at UBC found  that when the amount of atmospheric CO2 rose from 355 ppmv at the end of the twentieth century to 560 ppmv by 2100, the Mackenzie River basin [the area being modeled in their study] responded by capturing 50% more atmospheric CO2 through chemical weathering. 40% of this increase is directly linked to climate change (higher temperatures and rainfall accelerate mineral dissolution), while the remaining 60% is put down to changing vegetation activity: higher atmospheric CO2 levels reduce evapotranspiration in plants, which intensifies circulation of water in soils. The increased circulation speeds up chemical weathering of rocks. The sensitivity of this flux to climate change would then be equivalent to the flux related to the terrestrial biosphere (vegetation, soil, humus, etc).

This one example of the how complex interaction between just two of the variables - 'net primary productivity' and chemical weathering - produced non-linear feedback result shows that our climate is still far beyond our ability to project its future via modeling. The the next post we'll take a look at the positive feedback mechanisms who's effects are also either poorly understood by or totally ignored by climate modeling.

6.21.2013

Climate Science Has Looked at Clouds From Both Sides Now, But Really Don't Know Clouds At All


Like Joni Mitchell, climate science and scientists have looked at both sides of clouds and found them to be the most perplexing and uncertainty causing phenomenon that they, and climate modeling generally, face in their search for the Holy Grail of 'Equilibrium Clime Sensitivity'. The most widely used climate models - general-circulation models, energy-balance models and coupled climate models - do not simulate clouds with reasonable accuracy and some related hydrological processes (in particular those involving upper tropospheric humidity). Problems in the simulation of clouds and upper tropospheric humidity, remain worrisome because the associated processes account for most of the uncertainty in climate model simulations of anthropogenic climate change.

A less commonly used concept, the Earth system sensitivity (ESS) includes the effects of more short and long term feedbacks. Including these extra feedbacks [lots more on positive and negative feedbacks tomorrow-ed.] make the ESS sensitivity results larger than the other popular Global Climate Models — possibly twice as large — but also mean that it may or may not apply to current conditions.

The biggest uncertainty is that seen from below, clouds emit infrared radiation back to the surface, and so exert a warming effect; seen from above, clouds reflect sunlight and emit infrared radiation to space, and so exert a cooling effect. Whether the net effect is warming or cooling depends on details such as the type and altitude of the cloud. These details were poorly observed before the advent of satellite data and are difficult to represent in climate models. Plus the confounding fact that as time goes on global warming is expected to change the distribution and type of clouds.

In addition, the existence of, but not the atmosphere's sensitivity to, human-made greenhouse gases (GHGs) is known through experimentation, climate forcing caused by human-made aerosols is practically unmeasured. Aerosols are fine particles suspended in the air and often concentrated in clouds, such as dust, sulfates, and black soot. Aerosol climate forcing is complex, because aerosols both reflect solar radiation to space (a cooling effect) and absorb solar radiation (a warming effect). Plus atmospheric aerosols can alter cloud cover and cloud properties. Therefore, precise composition-specific measurements of aerosols and their effects on clouds are needed to assess the aerosol role in climate change.

Yikes...the remaining uncertainty caused by clouds is due to other interdependent feedbacks in the system like the water vapor content of individual cloud formations. Tomorrow The Mud Report will try to explain the most widely debated negative feedbacks [those often stressed by opponents of the 'consensus'] - the chemical weathering process, blackbody radiation, net primary productivity and Le Chatelier's principle.

That's enough for now, let's end this cloudy discussion with Hendrik Tennekes, retired Director of Research, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, who says, "Science may be described as the art of systematic oversimplification, the art of discerning what we may with advantage omit. From this perspective, those that advocate the idea that the response of the real climate is adequately represented in climate models have an obligation to prove that they have not overlooked a single nonlinear, possibly chaotic feedback mechanism that Nature itself employs." Which of course is impossible because there are so many types of non-linear feedback that Mother Nature routinely employs it makes the exercise of climate modeling more like a trip to Vegas to study probabilities than anything else.

6.20.2013

Uncertainty and Black Swans Cloud the Climate Models' Use of the Past to Predict the Future

A black swan, says Nicholas Nassim Taleb who popularized the term, is a hard-to-predict event with a large impact.

The nearly impenetrable Navier–Stokes equations are the basis for complex computer programs commonly known as global climate models [GCMs] along with sea ice and land-surface components. There are almost as many GCMs as there are modelers, but all of them are selected as useful for future projections because they do a decent job of looking backward at how climate changed in the historic record leading up to the present. The fact that those changes that are happening today over decades took thousands of years in the past is one of the systemic reasons for the uncertainty surrounding the GCM's projections.

GCMs—use a bottom-up approach. They divide the Earth and its atmosphere into a grid which generates an enormous number of calculations in order to imitate the climate system and the multiple influences upon it. The IPCC estimates and those most often referred to by the 'consensus' are GCMs. Another widely used type—energy-balance models—are simpler. They are top-down, treating the Earth as a single unit or as two hemispheres, and representing the whole climate with a few equations reflecting things such as changes in greenhouse gases, volcanic aerosols and global temperatures.

The latest gold standard are the coupled atmosphere-ocean GCMs where climate sensitivity is an emergent property: it is not a model parameter, but rather a result of a combination of the particular GCM and its parameters. By contrast, simpler energy-balance models usually have climate sensitivity as an explicit parameter and attempt to solve the problem in the other direction. In short, the different sorts of climate model measure somewhat different things.

Very complex interdependent systems suffer not only from sensitive dependence on initial conditions but also from the differences between Nature and the models employed in representing it. Finding the 'equilibrium climate sensitivity' is the goal of all the climate models and modelers, however for all the feedback mechanisms and other uncertainties, positive and negative to work their way through in Nature takes centuries whereas public policy makers want answers yesterday.

No model – whether a wind-tunnel model for designing aircraft, an economic model, a weather model or a climate model for projecting global warming – perfectly reproduces the system being modeled. But all models have their place. Complex science often depends on our attempts to describe the world with simple models. In this context, GCMs are capable of reproducing the general features of the observed global climate over the past century and are therefore useful in showing us the best directions to focus our attention on. Models may be a good guide as to whether to bring an umbrella or sunglasses to work tomorrow but they are far to cloudy to base public policy and our environment's future on.

Tomorrow The Mud Report will dive into the complex uncertainties that drive the scientists mad, the known unknowns. Then we'll take a look at the chaotic feedback mechanisms, the unknown unknowns, and various black swan events that expose the error bars of all types of scientific modeling as wishful thinking.

6.19.2013

The Science is Settled, CO2 is a Greenhouse Gas, But Our Atmosphere's Sensitivity to it is Uncertain


In 1992 Al Gore famously and infamously stood before the US Congress and declared, "the science is settled",  in his usual style of sensationalistic, oversimplified, headline hunting hyperbole. And the with those words our climate war began. Al was of course right that back in 1862 John Tyndall described the key to climate change. He had discovered [and many have repeated his experiments since then] in his laboratory that certain gases, including water vapor and carbon dioxide (CO2), are opaque to heat rays. He understood that such gases high in the air help keep our planet warm by interfering with escaping radiation, the Greenhouse Effect..

What Al neglected to mention, perhaps because it clouded his hunt for the perfect headline, was that our planet's atmospheric sensitivity to those gases and all the other complex interactions from a wide range of confounding factors make climate science a study in uncertainty. Consequently, climate sensitivity is the term scientists use to describe the way our climate reacts to changes in carbon-dioxide levels.

Climate sensitivity is one of the key parameters that the various computer programs we call climate models use to output future climate prognostications from an alphabet soup of parameters all of whose values are a function of other derivatives. In reality, climate sensitivity itself is function of hotly debated parameters derived from things like the looking backward at the historic records of temperature and CO2 concentrations which are themselves debatable. Simply put [for now] they strongly correlate over time but because there's no way to know 'the chicken or the egg' answer, this correlation is no proof of causation.

In the next few days The Mud Report will try to navigate the switchbacks of climate sensitivity and some of the uncertainties embedded in it from proponent, opponent and heretical perspectives. Columbia University has an excellent one page non-technical primer called 'The Carbon Cycle and Earth's Climate'. It explains that, "Carbon dioxide is an atmospheric constituent that plays several vital roles in the environment. It is a greenhouse gas that traps infrared radiation heat in the atmosphere. It plays a crucial role in the weathering of rocks. It is the carbon source for plants. It is stored in biomass, organic matter in sediments, and in carbonate rocks like limestone."

As PhD Physicist Joel Shore said in an email response recently:
"It seems to me that “the science is settled” is a phrase that is probably used more often by [Anthropocentric Greenhouse Warming - ed.] AGW skeptics (clearly, not approvingly) than it is by AGW proponents. It is of course true that in science, all knowledge is tentative…And, yet people don’t argue that one should make policy decisions under the assumption that the Law of Gravity could still theoretically be overturned by new knowledge (which may sound ridiculous, but if you consider the issues of Dark Energy and of the fact that nobody has ever successfully married quantum mechanics and gravity, there truly are some unsettled issues).

The fact is that various aspects of climate science are known to various degrees of certainty. The value of climate sensitivity…and particularly the feedback from clouds is clearly much more uncertain, as are some of the consequences of climate change on sea level, flora, fauna, and society. However, that does not mean that nothing is known about them.

To the extent that AGW proponents do say things to the effect that “the science is settled,” what is often meant is that the weight of the evidence is sufficiently clear that it is unwise to act as if we are not facing a serious problem and that continuing to burn through all of the likely reserves of fossil fuels is probably going to cause significant disruptions. Depending on just how large the climate sensitivity turns out to be and how large the impacts from climate change turns out to be, we probably face significant disruptions if we don’t move to drastically curtail our emissions." 

Shore obviously believes in 'The Precautionary Principle' not because he's certain, but because he's not...

6.18.2013

The Cloudy Climate Science Consensus is Based on Simplified Models of our Complex Atmosphere


Yesterday's post talked about the limitations of consensus in science. As a friend pointed out this morning my logic in it was a bit cloudy. Cloudy is actually a really good representation of the whole issue as well as one of the major uncertainties involved in climate science's attempts to tease out reliable projections from such an impossibly complex system as our atmosphere.

Further clouding yesterday's topic is the fact that there are two different types of science being discussed in the post.  One is the type of science that is a repeatable experiment with controls and isolated materials/effects. The second was scientific modeling where, like the earth's atmosphere, there's only one so there can be no controls - no separate planet identical planet that's left untouched - and no possible isolation of effects/materials.

The second type, modeling, is where the climate change consensus comes into play because there are no definitive/repeatable results to be had. In modeling complex systems, whether the economy, air flow over planes/cars or especially the atmosphere, there are so many interdependent variables all highly sensitive to initial condition who's values are all derived from other variables no one answer is achievable. The climate science consensus depends on our attempts to describe the highly complicated real world with simple models

As Hendrik Tennekes, retired Director of Research, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, says, "Science may be described as the art of systematic oversimplification, the art of discerning what we may with advantage omit. From this perspective, those that advocate the idea that the response of the real climate is adequately represented in climate models have an obligation to prove that they have not overlooked a single nonlinear, possibly chaotic feedback mechanism [the black swan effect-ed.] that Nature itself employs." Which of course is impossible

Consequently all climate models return uncertain results. There are different types of climate model, each has different input parameters who's values are derived from other variables. Each of these parameters is hotly debated in great detail by climatologists, meteorologists, physicists, chemists, astrophysicists, geologists and other specialists in each area. The best site IMO to follow the arguments of the specialists is world famous meteorologist Judith Curry's Climate Etc.

Another, less technical article that gives excellent overall analysis of model uncertainty issues as well as the different types of climate models and their parameters is t 'Climate science: A sensitive matter'. In the next few posts The Mud Report will try to explain the uncertain consensus among 97% of climate scientists who are 66% certain that the results from the combined models are accurate. Then go on to explain that many of the opponents of that 'consensus' agree with the results that lie outside that 66% range [both above and below] for valid reasons.

We'll start tomorrow with Al Gore's famous and oversimplified statement before congress back in 1992 that "the science is settled" and explain that he was right because all the way back in 1862 John Tyndall discovered in his laboratory that certain gases, including water vapor and carbon dioxide (CO2), are opaque to heat rays and that such gases high in the air help keep our planet warm by interfering with escaping radiation. But that the atmosphere's 'sensitivity' to those gases and the complex interactions in our atmosphere are far from certain.

6.17.2013

Consensus is a Tool of Political Compromise that has Nothing to do with Real Science

Consensus is almost always a race to the bottom. In every group of people, on any complicated issue there are a wide range of opinions. A consensus is what they'll all agree on so it's either a compromise none of them actually agree with or an opinion reached by a bartering of values or, like most of the UN's decisions, a situation where everyone falls into line with the one or two holdouts that refuse to compromise at all.

The UN Security Council is the perfect example. No matter how many countries condemn Syria right now they are unable to reach the mandatory consensus for any type of action because Russia and China know nothing will happen as long as they refuse to compromise. The Americans do the same thing on every issue that involves Israel.

"Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What are relevant are reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus." - Michael Crichton

Once upon a time the mainstream scientific consensus agreed that the earth was flat, that leeches were the best medical intervention and that DDT was a miracle.  DDT first synthesized in 1874, its insecticidal properties were discovered in 1939 and in 1948 Swiss chemist Paul Hermann Müller was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work with DDT as a poison for troublesome insects. As far back as the early 1940's a small minority of scientists questioned the safety of DDT but they were mostly ignored until the bestseller Silent Spring was published in 1962. It argued that DDT was poisoning wildlife, the environment and endangering human health. The public's reaction to Racheal Carson's classic launched the modern environmental movement.

Einstein was ridiculed, Galileo threatened with being burned at the stake if he didn't recant his heathen opinion that the earth wasn't the center of the universe. Keeping an open mind about the conclusions of 'experts' is always a good idea. As Dawud Bone, the Stone Ashdown Director of the Centre for the Study of Muslim-Jewish Relations at the Woolf Institute, says, "It is not only legitimate to question consensus, it is essential to do so."

IPCC is an arm of the UN, its conclusions are subject to the revisions of the UN's member states each of which has its own political agenda. Before the IPCC issues any report on climate it is also subject to the review of scientists of all different stripes who have a wide range opinions about every aspect of the underlying science. Consequently the IPCC's consensus opinions are always stated as a probability. For instance, right now 97% of the scientists are 66% sure of the present consensus [more on that tomorrow].

In the next few posts The Mud Report will explore both sides of the cloudy climate consensus conclusions that are at the heart of what really has become a philosophical not a scientific debate. Somehow this one symptom has taken the much broader environmental disease issue as a hostage. As Jane Goodall said, “Change happens by listening and then starting a dialogue with the people who are doing something you don't believe is right.” Dialogue, as Goodall states, requires open minded listening to those folks who have reached different conclusions from our own. Sometimes, on inconsequential issues, a consensus, even if it means a compromise that nobody really agrees with is fine, but on the issues of the causes to and solutions for environmental destruction a race to the bottom type consensus is worth less than nothing.

6.15.2013

The Surveillance State Controls the Consensus of Liberals and Conservatives With Fear


Control of the public is essential to those who's goal it is to protect the status quo and the violence inherent in corporate capitalism. That, the need for control, is why the surveillance state really collects all that data on private citizens. The state machinery of fascism must keep track of all of us who want to bring down the corporate capitalist system.... the extractive, excessive profit oriented, destructive system that every single day is destroying life on this planet.  The security state must control the consensus of public opinion for it to endure.

Perhaps some vestigial civil libertarianism remains in North America, but the vast majority have been co-opted into believing that they are deeply 'invested' in the status quo, that they have much to lose, making them easily convinced that the surveillance state and the loss of liberty are just the cost of doing business in today’s world. People, liberals and conservatives alike, have been carefully cultivated by fear mongering to accept that their tiny slice of the pie will be taken from them by the 'terrorists'.

In a fear-filled world, murder isn't the crime; unmasking and distributing evidence of it is. This hypocrisy lies at the heart of the secret military trial of Bradley Manning. The security state demands that the compliant media focus the public's attention on Manning not his message [ad hominem], but the trail isn't about Manning. It's about a government obsessed with secrecy about its crimes against humanity. If Manning is an enemy of the state then so too is truth.

To insist that Manning or Snowden's disclosures put their colleagues in harm's way is a bit like a cheating husband claiming that his partner reading his diary, not the infidelity, is what is truly imperilling their marriage. Avoiding responsibility for action, one instead blames the information and informant who makes that action known.

Glenn Greenwald said today that, "The purpose of whistleblowing is to expose secret and wrongful acts by those in power in order to enable reform. A key purpose of journalism is to provide an adversarial check on those who wield the greatest power by shining a light on what they do in the dark, and informing the public about those acts." The whistleblowers remind us that resistance is still an option.

Liberals and conservatives in believing they have something to lose are easily controlled by propaganda, fear and secret surveillance but not those who fly under the security radar, not those who live at the margins - the dispossessed, the homeless and the dropouts. Having nothing to lose they see more clearly that as FDR famously said, "We having nothing to fear but fear itself"

6.14.2013

We All Have RIGHTS. There Must be a Sensible Route to Security that Doesn't Undermine Them

We all have the RIGHT to privacy, rights are permanent. Rights are beyond the tyranny of the majority's present formulations and fears. No matter how often my rights are violated or how many fear-filled folks the polls say agree that national security trumps my civil rights, i'll continue to say and do what little I can to uphold my rights against the national security state, big business interests and the compliant mainstream media who have all the money and power necessary to manufacture the consent of the majority of my fellows.

As Steve Burgess pointed out today, the politically widespread outrage about Edward Snowden's whistlebolwing has been sorta heartwarming, saying, "According to the Book of Revelations, when Al Gore and Senator Rand Paul agree on an issue the End Times are near. As well, scientists say that having the American Civil Liberties Union and the Tea Party on the same side of any question may reverse the polarity of the Earth's magnetic field and make cows lactose intolerant."

Glen Greenwald seems to agree in his Guardian article today titled 'On PRISM, Partisanship and Propaganda' though he uses less cows in his revelations addressing many of the issues arising from last week's NSA stories and breakdown of the numbers in the much discussed PEW polling results. In his analysis Greenwald says,  "As I've written many times, one of the most significant aspects of the Obama legacy has been the transformation of Democrats from pretend-opponents of the Bush War on Terror and National Security State into their biggest proponents: exactly what the CIA presciently and excitedly predicted in 2008 would happen with Obama's election."


Greenwald quotes then Senator Joe Biden who in 2006 while condemning GW Bush's tamer secret wire-tapping program said, "I don't have to listen to your phone calls to know what you're doing. If I know every single phone call you made, I'm able to determine every single person you talked to. I can get a pattern about your life that is very, very intrusive." Biden knew then, as he does now, that one of the big problems is that metadata is the fool's gold for determining intent.

Many security experts say the NSA's surveillance played little role in foiling the terror plots despite the fact that the Obama administration says NSA data helped make arrests in two important cases. Court documents lodged in the US and UK, as well as interviews with involved parties, suggest that data-mining through PRISM and other NSA programmes played a relatively minor role in the interception of the two plots. Conventional surveillance techniques, in both cases including old-fashioned tip-offs from intelligence services in Britain, appear to have initiated the investigations.

National security, in every nation, is very important. But as Edward Snowden said a few days ago, “We managed to survive greater threats in our history than a few disorganized terrorist groups and rogue states without resorting to these sorts of programs." And he's right-on, somehow, even now in the digital ago, there must be a route to security that doesn't require the undermining of our RIGHTS.

A popular saying among my parents, who both fought in WW11, and their friends of 'the greatest generation' back when i was growing up was, "I disagree totally with what you are saying but I'd gladly die fighting for your right to say it." They fought for the right to free speech, to liberty, to privacy. They knew the difference between one's opinion of what is right and what a RIGHT is. Many, the majority according to PEW, have succumbed to the fear mongering of the fascists and their genuflecting media, but thankfully not all have. Thankfully there still are folks like Edward Snowden and journalists like Glen Greenwald who are brave enough to stand up for my RIGHTS.

6.13.2013

Canadians Must Stop Being Naive About Security and Understand We're All 'Foreigners' Somewhere

A few days ago Obama attempted to re-assure this fellow Americans that the US's secret surveillance programs didn't target US citizens or residents. The next day it was Canada's Defence Minister Peter MacKay's turn to say that Canada's secret data-collection program is not targeting Canadians saying, "Canada’s own secretive online and phone metadata surveillance program is 'prohibited' from looking at the information of Canadians and is directed at monitoring foreign threats." Next up,  British Foreign Secretary William Hague rejected suggestions that US surveillance programs were being used by UK authorities to avoid local privacy laws and spy on British citizens. The Germans and the Aussies also said their secret information gathering only focused on  foreign targets.

In this day and age of lawyer speak folks must listen carefully to these politician's answers. What does it matter if your private calls are 'screened' by a Canadian intelligence network, or by an American or British or German or Australian intelligence network? The politicians all refer to not getting/using info from a particular country, none say they don't get and use info from one of the other countries in their security web. All of the countries have admitted, even bragged, at other times that they are supplying the other governments with information. It's easy for MacKay to state that Canadians are not being spied on by 'our' intelligence networks, when the Americans, British, Germans or Australians can do the work for him, as they are not bound to any such privacy regulations when it to comes to 'foreign' citizen's conversations. We're all foreigners somewhere.

Canada's metadata collection program was initially brought in by the former Liberal government in 2005, but was later put on hiatus over concerns it could lead to warrant less surveillance of Canadians. Then the program was quietly reinstated on Nov. 21, 2011 after MacKay signed a ministerial directive, which is not subject to parliamentary scrutiny.

Canada has also loudly and proudly signed 'The Integrated Cross Border Law Enforcement Operations Act'. It's part of 'The Beyond The Border initiative' which is "intended to foster the sharing of intelligence and, among other measures, the deal aims to address threats at the earliest possible opportunity as well as build on cross-border law enforcement programs and enhance emergency and cyber infrastructure."  And there's the US's 'Cyber-Intelligence Sharing & Protection Act' (CISPA), which commits [Bill C-12] Canada to “real-time information sharing” between cyber-security operations on both sides of the border. So Canada, and the others, already have all the legislation in place that they need to legally and secretly farm out their domestic Internet spying and warrant-less wiretapping.

On another level, none of the data a Canadian stores on Facebook—their photos, check-ins, private messages, friends list, or event attendance records—is saved within Canada. This is all data that is living inside of American servers. For all intents and purposes, the Internet as we know it is American owned. There is no Canadian Facebook alternative. The same goes for Google, there is a Google.ca but everything is stored or mirrored on US servers which are subject to PRISM. Gmail, for instance, may be where you have banking info, your SIN number, intimate photos, or chat logs that describe whatever sketchy shit you’re up to these days. Again, all of that has been entrusted to an American corporation that is currently being monitored in semi-secrecy (the semi part is thanks to Edward Snowden) by the NSA.

Metadata is the information that frames a digital portrait of who a person is. This isn't new or is it rocket science. Corporations like Google and Facebook have become vastly wealthy using these exact methods to build a profile of each of us that they use to serve up ads for stuff we'll be interested in. Considering the amount of data that can be collected about a person through Gmail and Facebook alone, it wouldn’t be hard to build a criminal dossier on someone who, say, has coordinated a few weed transactions and traded some illegal links to streaming TV shows or album downloads using these services.

Every Canadian who thinks for a second that every thing they type, every call they make, isn't being recorded some place by one or more of the West's vast 'security' operations is being naive.

6.12.2013

Snowden and Greenwald, Like Orwell and Edward R. Morrow, are Standing With the Truth


Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Whether or not Edward Snowden's heroic whistleblowing revelations and Glen Greenwald's journalistic bravery will 'change the world' is impossible to know just yet, but it has already raised the awareness of people around world to the gathering darkness of the police state.

As Abby Zimet points out this morning, America is being introduced to Big Brother by the revelations about the surveillance state recently. Abby says, "One small good thing to come of the NSA revelations: Americans are discovering the brilliant, prescient "1984" by English Democratic Socialist Eric Arthur Blair, aka George Orwell. Just in time for its 64th anniversary, sales of his classic dystopian tale of state surveillance and thought control have skyrocketed, with sales rising an incredible 5,771% and some editions hitting Amazon's top bestsellers list."

Yesterday's Mud Report was in part about Rand Paul suing the NSA. And today's article 'ACLU Sues Obama Administration Over NSA 'Dragnet' Surveillance Revealed in Historic Leaks' announced that because the NSA phone surveillance will have a 'chilling effect' on ACLU's ability to protect civil liberties they are launching a case. The ACLU's Brett Kaufman says, "As an organization that advocates for and litigates to defend the civil liberties of society's most vulnerable, the staff at the ACLU naturally use the phone—a lot—to talk about sensitive and confidential topics with clients, legislators, whistleblowers, and ACLU members. And since the ACLU is a VBNS [Verizon] customer, we were immediately confronted with the harmful impact that such broad surveillance would have on our legal and advocacy work. So we're acting quickly to get into court to challenge the government's abuse of [the Patriot Act's] Section 215." This is excellent news because the ACLU has a terrific legal team who often presents opinions before SCOTUS so they will be respected by the court and the case will get coverage in the MSM which will work to further raise awareness.

As for the dynamic duo, Edward Snowden said in an interview today in The South China Morning Post that, "I'm neither traitor nor hero. I'm an American". In the interview Snowden explains that he chose Hong Kong because he believes that their very fair legal system will allow him to fight US extradition effectively. And Glen Greenwald, channeling the great Edward R. Murrow - who stood up to Senator Joseph McCarthy's tyrannical Red Scare when all other journalists ran for cover in the 50s - reiterated his statement that many more leaks are coming, which in the face of a government that summarily executes its own citizens with no due process is IMO very courageous.

“There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.” - George Orwell, 1984

6.11.2013

Once Again the Pauls-Ron and Rand-Stand Up Against the Orwellian State and for Guaranteed Rights

Just like back in March when Rand Paul's now-famous 13-hour filibuster attempted to sound the alarm that “no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime” and being found guilty in a court of law, a day Glenn Greenwald described as a, "Fascinating day:Tea Party Senator filibusters torture-supporting CIA nominee over civil liberties, while Dem establishment mocks & fumes.", Rand and his father Ron are again standing nearly alone in Washington, again embarrassing both Democrats and Republicans and reminding us all that 'silence is complicity'.

This time Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is planning on filing a class-action lawsuit against the federal government over the National Security Agency’s surveillance of phone records and Internet data. “I’m going to be seeing if I can challenge this at the Supreme Court level. I’m going to be asking the Internet providers and all of the phone companies; ask your customers to join me in a class-action lawsuit,” he said, adding, “If we get 10 million Americans saying, ‘We don’t want our phone records looked at’ then maybe someone will wake up and things will change in Washington.”

Former Rep. Ron Paul, Rand's father, has been a vocal supporter of Snowden, saying he’s done a “great service for telling the truth” about government surveillance. Going on to say, “When you have a dictatorship or an authoritarian government, truth becomes treasonous and this is what they do if you are a whistle blower or you’re trying to tell the American people our country is destroying our rule of law or destroying our constitution, they turn it on and they say oh, you’re committing treason. For somebody to tell the American people the truth is a heroic effort.

Three days ago Senator Rand Paul announced new legislation to "ensure that no government agency can search the phone records of Americans without a warrant based on probable cause." He calls the bill the Fourth Amendment Restoration Act of 2013. "The revelation that the NSA has secretly seized the call records of millions of Americans, without probable cause, represents an outrageous abuse of power and a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution," Paul wrote on his web site.

And in a Guardian editorial Friday, Rand Paul invited his colleagues to join him in supporting a new phone records protection law, saying, "We shall see how many join me in supporting a part of the Bill of Rights that everyone in Congress already took an oath to uphold."

In the end, both Pauls - known as a strong proponents of civil liberties - agreed this intelligence-gathering strategy is simply a step too far. "I think the American people are with me and I think if you talk to young people who use computers on a daily basis, they are absolutely with me. We fought a revolution over behavior like the NSA's." Rand Paul said.

There many many issues i totally disagree with the Rand Paul on. IMO Rand, like his father, should simply apply the same libertarian freedom philosophy to the all the issues like they do to 4th Amendment Rights, drug legalization, defense policies, the Federal Reserve and Foreign Relations. IMO, if Rand were to have an epiphany and see that abortion is a personal decision outside the purview of government, that homosexuality is too, that the right to health care is the same as the right to an education, that a true libertarian philosophy encompasses the fact that every individual has the right to clean air and water and that corporations aren't people and so have no right to poison the water and air of real people, he could be elected President as a 3rd party candidate in 2016.

6.10.2013

The Global CIA and NSA Spy Networks are on the Hunt: 'Where in the World is Edward Snowden?

The heroic NSA whislteblower - Edward Snowden - checked out of Mira Hotel in Hong Kong at noon Monday local time just about the same time The Guardian was posting more text from Glen Greenwald's  inspirational interview with him.

His whereabouts are now reported by the 'authorities' as unknown. Where Snowden has gone is any one's guess but for sure the CIA and the NSA are on his trail. The Icelandic Ambassador to China commented yesterday that in order to apply for asylum in Iceland  he'd have to do it in person so maybe he's in Reykjavík. Or maybe he's in Quito, Equador knowing as he must that President Rafael Correa has already granted Julian Assange asylum.

Here's a few quotes from the last few hours:

Daniel Ellsberg says, "In my estimation, there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden's release of NSA material – and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago. Snowden's whistleblowing gives us the possibility to roll back a key part of what has amounted to an "executive coup" against the US constitution."

When The Washington Post reporter asked Snowden about threats to “national security,” Snowden offered an assessment light-years ahead of mainstream media’s conventional wisdom: “We managed to survive greater threats in our history than a few disorganized terrorist groups and rogue states without resorting to these sorts of programs. It is not that I do not value intelligence, but that I oppose omniscient, automatic, mass surveillance. That seems to me a greater threat to the institutions of free society than missed intelligence reports, and unworthy of the costs.”

Snowden went on to say, "You don’t have to have done anything wrong, you simply have to have eventually fall under suspicion ... and then they can use this system to go back in time and ... derive suspicion from an innocent life”

Americans, and i'm one, can no longer trust the President, Congress, or the courts to protect them and their constitutional rights from the tyranny of corporate fascism. As is now apparent the freedom and liberty of Americans and non-Americans everywhere relies on whistleblowers and reporters. Certainly right now every 'asset' of the Surveillance State is searching the globe for Edward Snowden. The spooks may already have him locked away in one of their secret back hole dungeons, who'd know, but regardless of his fate, Edward Snowden will go down in history as a hero to the cause of liberty.

6.09.2013

Secret FISA Court 'Overseeing' NSA's Spying Ruled 1,856 to Zero in 2012 to Allow Domestic Warrents

About a month ago Lauren McCauley wrote an article titled 'Secret Spy Court Authorizes 100% of US Government Requests' About the Secret Court Obama and his stooges have reffered to again and agiun in these last few days as the judicial oversight that should reassure Americans to 'trust us'. In the FISA court, McCauley reminds us, civilians have no representative and government's 'national security' claims win again and again.

As Wired's David Kravets explains, "The secret court, which came to life in the wake of the Watergate scandal under the President Richard M. Nixon administration, now gets the bulk of its authority under the FISA Amendments Act, which Congress reauthorized for another five years days before it would have expired last year. The act allows the government to electronically eavesdrop on Americans’ phone calls and e-mails without a probable-cause warrant."

The McCauley article references a report (pdf), which was released on May 2nd to Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), which states that during 2012, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (the “FISC”) approved every single one of the 1,856 applications made by the government for authority to conduct [domestic] electronic surveillance and/or physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes.

"Though depicted as some kind of check on Executive Branch behavior," Glenn Greenwald writes, the entire process "is virtually designed to do the opposite: ensure the Government's surveillance desires are unimpeded."

The laws, Cicero wrote in the days of the Roman Republic, “are silent in time of war.” But what if the war has no end, no defined enemy, no defined territory?

Meet Edward Snowden - the Heroic Whistleblower Behind the NSA Surveillance Revelations

Meet Edward Snowden, the 29-year-old source of biggest intelligence leak in US history. Listen to him explain his motives, his uncertain future and why he never intended on hiding in the shadows in this historic video released just hours ago by Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill and Laura Poitras from Hong Kong as part of Glenn Greenwald's history making series on security and liberty.

Edward Snowden now joins the heroic ranks of Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, Daniel Ellsbergand many more...who have forsaken their own personal freedom and safety to expose the inner workings of the Evil Empire.  Glenn Greenwald and his team of journalists also deserve the highest praise that can be given for their service to the great tradition of journalism. They too are in the cross-hairs now...and they know it.

The US's illegal and unconstitutional surveillance program is being spun by corrupt Western governments as necessary for security from the threat of terrorism when it is actually fear mongering designed to elicit a fawning response in the millions of already indoctrinated and terrorized sheeple. In fact the whole thing is a counter-offensive launched by the 1% to protect themselves from the anger and protests by the folks who have been robbed of their jobs, homes and liberty.

The criminal elites are up to their eyebrows in war crimes, financial fraud and an unfolding global attack on liberty. They rightfully fear a rebellion from their victims, so they have ordered their puppets to monitor all phone calls, emails and web activity to identify dissidents and quell an uprising before it develops.

Edward Snowden, is a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various outside contractors, including Booz Allen and Dell. In a note accompanying the first set of documents Edward Snowden provided, he wrote: "I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions," but "I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant."

Greenwald asks Snowden in his interview, "Why did he do it? Why give up his freedom and a privileged lifestyle?" Snowden answers, "There are more important things than money. If I were motivated by money, I could have sold these documents to any number of countries and gotten very rich."

6.08.2013

The Whisteblowers are Drawing Back the Curtains on the Modern Day 'Wizards of Oz' in Washington

Yesterday Anonymous released private NSA documents related to the Global Spy Network. According to those who have read through them the documents seem to mostly relate to PRISM and supporting operations. One of the key things Anonymous has highlighted from the documents is the existence of an “intelligence-sharing network” that shares data gleaned from PRISM with “intelligence partners” around the world.

The groups studying the docs claim that the global intelligence apparatus discussed within some of the documents shows that government agencies "are spying on the citizens of over 35 different countries" and that this is being "done in cooperation with private businesses, and intelligence partners" across the globe.

Surely Canada, where i live, who's ultra right-wing Harper government is the globe's #1 American ass-kisser, is proud to be a part of the program. The Anonymous release begins with their customary salutation, "Greetings Netizens, and Citizens of the world" and goes on to say,"Your privacy and freedoms are slowly being taken from you, in closed door meetings, in laws buried in bills, and by people who are supposed to be protecting you." Which includes everyone up here in Canuckistan eh.

Meanwhile the corporate owned MSM is awash with calls from the 'authorities' to punish the whistleblowers who've exposed this sweeping surveillance program. Washington officials are calling the heroic leaker, or leakers, 'Reprehensible, Reckless, Illegal':  Critics are condemning the spying program as "grave threat to democratic freedom" saying, "whole world is impacted." while at the same time 'the liar and thief' Obama is calling it a "Modest Encroachment"

Apparently it's not over yet according to Glenn Greenwald and others. Yesterday WikiLeaks' Julian Assange said, “Let’s ask ourselves whether the whistleblower who has revealed those, and there’s more to come, is going to be in exactly the same position as Bradley Manning is in today.”

The Glen Greenwald was interviewed yesterday [below] on Democracy Now is great. He along with Assange, Bradley Manning and whoever the new leakers have earned all the help and praise they are getting from every corner of the globe for drawing back the curtain on the old/weak little Wizards of Oz who's global fear campaign can only be stopped by knowledge.

Here's a copy of the list of documents Anonymous released both as a mirror site and as an acknowledgement of solidarity by The Mud Report:


Glen Greenwald interview on Democracy Now