Friday, June 01, 2007
Nasa Administrator Michael Griffin Obviously Doesn't Even Read NASA'S OWN STUDIES.
'Disastrous Effects' of Global Warming Tipping Points Near, According to New Study
By BILL BLAKEMORE May 29, 2007 —
Even "moderate additional" greenhouse emissions are likely to push Earth past "critical tipping points" with "dangerous consequences for the planet," according to research conducted by NASA and the Columbia University Earth Institute.
With just 10 more years of "business as usual" emissions from the burning of coal, oil and gas, says the NASA/Columbia paper, "it becomes impractical" to avoid "disastrous effects."
The study appears in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. Its lead author is James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.
The forecast effects include "increasingly rapid sea-level rise, increased frequency of droughts and floods, and increased stress on wildlife and plants due to rapidly shifting climate zones," according to the NASA announcement.
Recent Climate Reports Underestimated How Soon
By heralding the new research paper, NASA is endorsing science that places considerably more urgency on the need to reduce emissions to avoid "disastrous effects" of global warming than was evident in the recent reports from the world's scientists coordinated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The new NASA release emphasizes the danger of "strong amplifying feedbacks" pushing Earth past "dangerous tipping points."
Scientists have been warning for several years that such tipping points are the greatest threat from manmade global warming and what makes it potentially catastrophic for civilization.
'Potentially Uncontrollable' Feedback Loops
As the tipping points pass, "there is an acceleration, potentially uncontrollable, of emissions of vast natural stores of greenhouse gas," according to Hansen, who reviewed the study for ABC News today.
Hansen explains that dangerous feedback loops are being tracked in various regions of the planet.
Many studies have reported feedback loops already observed in thawing tundra, seabeds and drying forests.
Hansen also points out that dark and therefore heat-absorbing forests are now expanding toward the Arctic, replacing lighter-colored areas such as tundra and snow cover.
The NASA research also reasserts the importance of the disappearing Arctic sea ice and snow, whose reflectivity has helped cool the planet by bouncing warm sunlight straight back into space.
The disappearance of that bright sea ice and snow is uncovering more and more dark water and bare ground creating another dangerous feedback loop.
These feedbacks all produce more heat, thus all reinforcing each other, leading to evermore thawing and thus releases of natural greenhouse gases (including CO2 and methane) in a viciously accelerating circle.
450 Parts Per Million
The recent IPCC summaries entertained "scenarios" of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere ranging from 450 parts per million (ppm) up through 550 ppm and 650 ppm.
This new research says "C02 exceeding 450 ppm is almost surely dangerous."
Hansen told ABC News today he believes the upper limit for avoiding dangerous climate change "could well be much lower" than 450 ppm.
In the NASA announcement, Hansen said, "'business as usual' emissions would be a guarantee of global and regional disaster."
Earth's CO2 concentration is currently 383 ppm, up from 280 ppm at the start of the industrial age.
Studies released earlier this month report human-made emissions now spiraling upward at an accelerating rate much faster than scientists expected only a few years ago.
The NASA release points out that a 1992 treaty was "signed (and ratified) by the United States and almost all nations of the world," which "has the goal to stabilize atmospheric greenhouse gases 'at a level that prevents dangerous human-made interference with the climate system.' "
NASA says this new study thus helps "define practical implications" of that 1992 treaty the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The study says that "only moderate additional climate forcing (which would mean only moderate additional warming from such emissions) is likely to set in motion the disintegration of the West Antarctic ice sheet" dubbed WAIS by polar scientists.
Many scientists say a disintegration of WAIS would mean catastrophically rapid sea-level rise.
The NASA/Columbia study is co-written by 48 scientists in the United States and France.
Nasa Top Administrator Michael Griffin Suggests to be a Winner in Global Warming You Should Buy Beachfront Property in The Smokey Mountains.
NASA Administrator Michael Griffin Questions Need to Combat Warming
By CLAYTON SANDELL and BILL BLAKEMOREMay 31, 2007 —
NASA administrator Michael Griffin is drawing the ire of his agency's preeminent climate scientists after apparently downplaying the need to combat global warming.
In an interview broadcast this morning on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" program, Griffin was asked by NPR's Steve Inskeep whether he is concerned about global warming.
"I have no doubt that a trend of global warming exists," Griffin told Inskeep. "I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with."
"To assume that it is a problem is to assume that the state of Earth's climate today is the optimal climate, the best climate that we could have or ever have had and that we need to take steps to make sure that it doesn't change," Griffin said. "I guess I would ask which human beings where and when are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that's a rather arrogant position for people to take."
Griffin's comments immediately drew stunned reaction from James Hansen, NASA's top climate scientist at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.
"It's an incredibly arrogant and ignorant statement," Hansen told ABC News. "It indicates a complete ignorance of understanding the implications of climate change."
Hansen believes Griffin's comments fly in the face of well-established scientific knowledge that hundreds of NASA scientists have contributed to.
"It's unbelievable," said Hansen. "I thought he had been misquoted. It's so unbelievable."
News media inquiries to NASA headquarters about Griffin's comments prompted the space agency to make the unusual move of issuing a news release late Wednesday night.
"NASA is the world's preeminent organization in the study of Earth and the conditions that contribute to climate change and global warming," Griffin said in a statement. "The agency is responsible for collecting data that is used by the science community and policy makers as part of an ongoing discussion regarding our planet's evolving systems. It is NASA's responsibility to collect, analyze and release information. It is not NASA's mission to make policy regarding possible climate change mitigation strategies. As I stated in the NPR interview, we are proud of our role and I believe we do it well."
Hansen, featured prominently in Al Gore's global warming documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," has been warning of the potential dangers of climate change since the 1980s.
In late 2005, he accused NASA of trying to improperly censor him after he warned that Earth's climate might be approaching a dangerous "tipping point."
The agency later fired a public affairs employee, a political appointee of the Bush administration, over the incident.
Last year, many NASA scientists were upset when reports surfaced that the agency had quietly deleted the phrase "to understand and protect our home planet" from the NASA mission statement. The scientists believe research on issues like climate change will suffer as NASA shifts priorities toward exploration missions to the moon and Mars.
"Earth has always been central to NASA's science," Hansen said.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Bush Officials Spreading Lie About Governor Who Blew Whistle On National Guard Shortages (or Robert Novak is a big fat liar)
Now the Bush administration is exacting revenge:
Bush administration officials, stung by complaints from Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius that National Guard heavy equipment needed by tornado-stricken Greensburg, Kan., is in Iraq, are putting out word that she was two days late at the disaster scene because she was attending a jazz festival in New Orleans.
But according to a report in today’s Wichita Eagle, the Bush rumor is completely false:
Yes, Sebelius was in New Orleans with her family when the tornado hit that Friday evening. But she was notified that night about the tornado, and she and her staff in Kansas immediately began trying to assess the damage. When the scope of the disaster became clear, they began making arrangements for her return.
Sebelius didn’t attend any of the jazz festival and left her family in New Orleans, flying back Saturday afternoon using a plane arranged by Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco.
Earlier, the White House had floated the line that Sebelius was responsible for the Guard shortages, saying it was “not aware of any prior complaints” by the governor about the lack of equipment. But reports soon surfaced showing Sebelius made at least five separate requests for equipment, beginning in Dec. 2005. Apparently it’s back to the drawing board for the Bush spin team.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Dwight D. Eisenhower 1961
Military-Industrial Complex Speech, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961
Public Papers of the Presidents, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1960, p. 1035- 1040
My fellow Americans:
Three days from now, after half a century in the service of our country, I shall lay down the responsibilities of office as, in traditional and solemn ceremony, the authority of the Presidency is vested in my successor.
This evening I come to you with a message of leave-taking and farewell, and to share a few final thoughts with you, my countrymen.
Like every other citizen, I wish the new President, and all who will labor with him, Godspeed. I pray that the coming years will be blessed with peace and prosperity for all.
Our people expect their President and the Congress to find essential agreement on issues of great moment, the wise resolution of which will better shape the future of the Nation.
My own relations with the Congress, which began on a remote and tenuous basis when, long ago, a member of the Senate appointed me to West Point, have since ranged to the intimate during the war and immediate post-war period, and, finally, to the mutually interdependent during these past eight years.
In this final relationship, the Congress and the Administration have, on most vital issues, cooperated well, to serve the national good rather than mere partisanship, and so have assured that the business of the Nation should go forward. So, my official relationship with the Congress ends in a feeling, on my part, of gratitude that we have been able to do so much together.
We now stand ten years past the midpoint of a century that has witnessed four major wars among great nations. Three of these involved our own country. Despite these holocausts America is today the strongest, the most influential and most productive nation in the world. Understandably proud of this pre-eminence, we yet realize that America's leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.
Throughout America's adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people and among nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people. Any failure traceable to arrogance, or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt both at home and abroad.
Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention, absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology -- global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily the danger is poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle -- with liberty the stake. Only thus shall we remain, despite every provocation, on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.
Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research -- these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.
But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs -- balance between the private and the public economy, balance between cost and hoped for advantage -- balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration.
The record of many decades stands as proof that our people and their government have, in the main, understood these truths and have responded to them well, in the face of stress and threat. But threats, new in kind or degree, constantly arise. I mention two only.
A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.
Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.
Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.
In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.
Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.
The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present
- and is gravely to be regarded.
Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientifictechnological elite.
It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system -- ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.
Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society's future, we -- you and I, and our government -- must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.
Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.
Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.
Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war -- as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years -- I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.
Happily, I can say that war has been avoided. Steady progress toward our ultimate goal has been made. But, so much remains to be done. As a private citizen, I shall never cease to do what little I can to help the world advance along that road.
So -- in this my last good night to you as your President -- I thank you for the many opportunities you have given me for public service in war and peace. I trust that in that service you find some things worthy; as for the rest of it, I know you will find ways to improve performance in the future.
You and I -- my fellow citizens -- need to be strong in our faith that all nations, under God, will reach the goal of peace with justice. May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle, confident but humble with power, diligent in pursuit of the Nation's great goals.
To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America's prayerful and continuing aspiration:
We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Tuesday May 29, 2007
Richard Perle says he has nothing to apologise for. True, in 1998 he signed on to a letter from prominent neo-conservatives calling on the then president, Bill Clinton, to use force if necessary to oust Saddam Hussein. True, too, that as chairman of the defence policy board from 2001 to 2003, he was an adviser to the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, in the pivotal days of planning for the Iraq war. But of the unfortunate consequences that flowed from those events - a war that by some estimates has claimed the lives of 655,000 Iraqis, and more than 3,400 US troops, a war that has entrenched hatred of America and brought suicide bombings to the cities of Europe - Perle says he has no regrets.
"I will take responsibility for what I argued which was that we should remove Saddam, and I am willing to defend that position today," says Perle, who is to be interviewed by Philippe Sands at the Guardian Hay Festival tonight. "Do I take responsibility for the things that went wrong afterwards? I had no influence over those things, unfortunately."
Perle's refusal to shoulder any share of the blame for the catastrophic consequences of his ideas about the world comes at a time when neo-conservative forces seem to be on the retreat in the Bush presidency. Earlier this month, Paul Wolfowitz, another prime force behind the war in Iraq, was forced out of the World Bank, in a scandal which, though officially about outsize pay rises for his girlfriend, was animated by anger about the war.
In January, Scooter Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice-president Dick Cheney, was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice. Last November, Rumsfeld was swept aside as Pentagon chief, following the Republicans' election defeat.
With nearly two-thirds of Americans opposed to the war, one could be forgiven for thinking that Perle might be looking for cover. Earlier this year, Vanity Fair magazine published an article raising the astonishing prospect that Perle, one of the most ardent advocates of war on Iraq, had been having second thoughts. Asked whether it would have been possible to contain Saddam without military intervention, Perle told the magazine: "Maybe we could have." A neo-con recants!
But, as soon becomes apparent during our conversation, it is some distance from that glancing admission to a real change of heart, and there is little evidence that the debacle in Iraq has led Perle to question the hawkish views that have guided his life and - not incidentally - made his career in Washington.
Ask Perle for his ideas on how to resolve the standoff over Iran's nuclear arsenal, and the formula is eerily familiar. He is not yet sure the time is ripe to carry out air strikes on Tehran. "But if the only way to prevent Iran from being a nuclear weapons power is to destroy one or more facilities that will give them that capability I see no moral basis for rejecting that option," Perle says.
He would also like to see the US actively working to destabilise Iran by supporting opponents of the regime. The same lessons could then be applied to Syria, he says.
When I arrive at Perle's house in Chevy Chase, still a bastion of liberals just outside the district line of Washington, DC, the front door is open, and he is having a loud telephone conversation in comically accented French. It could have been an auditory hallucination, but it seemed that at one point, he bellowed: 'Je t'aime." A dog skitters across the polished wood floors. Its name is Reagan, and it will spend a fair amount of time in Perle's lap as he talks about Iraq.
A disciple of the cold war hawk and Democratic senator, Henry Scoop Jackson, Perle spent several years as a staffer in the US Senate before gaining a post as assistant secretary of defence in the 1980s administration of Ronald Reagan. It was during his Reagan period that Perle acquired a reputation as someone who preferred to exercise his influence outside the public eye. Much to his annoyance, he is still referred to as "the Prince of Darkness" in Washington circles. He is also known as a neo-con - though Perle objects to that label too, claiming that he remains a registered Democrat.
He moved on to the defence policy board in 1987, and stayed until 2004, when he was forced to step down amid charges that he had used his position to try to influence the sale of a telecommunications firm to a Chinese company.
Perle, who remains associated with a number of conservative think-tanks, came under additional scrutiny for his role as a director of Conrad Black's Hollinger International Inc. His management of his responsibilities to the board led the authors of the Breeden Report, which investigated allegations that Black was defrauding the company, to describe Perle as a "faithless fiduciary".
But those knocks - not to mention the bloody chaos of Iraq - do not appear to have led Perle to a reappraisal of his thinking. "I haven't lost any friends over this," he says. (I don't tell him about the neighbour who yelled out: "Tell him he was wrong about the war," when I stopped to check street directions.) He refuses to say whether he has lost any sleep.
Instead, Perle continues to cling to a view of events in Iraq that has now been comprehensively discredited. Even now, when it is abundantly clear that Saddam Hussein did not have the weapons of mass destruction that were the pretext for the war, Perle insists that it was the right decision to remove Saddam by force. "Even after recognising that some of the information was wrong, the judgment that Saddam proposed a threat and a serious threat was right," he says.
Against the reams of evidence to the contrary - including congressional inquiries into the administration's misuse of intelligence in the run-up to the war - Perle continues to insist that Saddam Hussein was a friend of al-Qaida.
So if the ideas were sound, where did it all go wrong? It is here, perhaps, that Perle makes his most astonishing statement: Washington did not do enough to prop up former Iraqi exiles such as Ahmed Chalabi. But, ever the insider, Perle does not point too high when assigning blame. He carefully avoids fingering President Bush, or his fellow travellers among the hawks and neo-cons - not Cheney, not the former Pentagon officials, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith.
After absolving the intellectuals who planted the seeds of war, and the civilians who were instrumental in its planning, Perle turns his ire on General Tommy Franks, the former commander of forces in Iraq. Among Franks's greatest blunders, Perle says, was his failure to stop the looting that erupted the day the regime fell. "The looting was just a serious and inexplicable mistake, made I believe principally by Franks and the military on the ground," he says. "I have, I concede, a low regard for Franks. I think he is a fool, and I thought that the first time I met him."
Donald Rumsfeld, it will be remembered, famously said about the looting: "Stuff happens." But Perle is understanding of that. "I think Rumsfeld thought, people have suffered under this regime so they are going to burn down the symbols of officialdom," he said.
Are the Iraqi people better off today than they were under Saddam? "That's a very temporal question," he says. In Perle's view, it should be left to a later generation of Iraqis to decide whether their lives are less wretched now than they were under Saddam. Was it worth going to war against a regime that did not after all constitute an imminent threat? "It's the wrong issue to talk about imminence," he says. Would he agree the situation in Iraq is disastrous? Disaster is an overused term, he says. "It is what it is." When you get right down to it, he really isn't all that keen to talk about the reality of Iraq.
For Perle, it seems, war is something that happens to other people. It is also a condition about which ordinary mortals - those not privy to classified reports and reliant on newspapers and television for information - may not necessarily be qualified to hold an opinion. He says he learned that lesson in 1974 when he visited Saigon as the clock was winding down on the US presence in South Vietnam. Perle says he was braced for scenes of gore after following press reports of the conflict. "The war was still going on, and I went to several places in Vietnam. I expected before arriving, as a newspaper reader, to see a moonscape when I arrived, to see devastation everywhere. I arrived in Saigon and apart from the sandbags in front of some government buildings you wouldn't have known there was a war going on. Life on the surface was completely normal," Perle says. "I didn't see the war."
Just a year after his visit, America would make its ignominious exit from Vietnam, helicopters lifting off from the US embassy in Saigon. But Perle says he never felt like he was in a real war zone. Small wonder then, perhaps, that 30 years later, he had no reservations in advocating war on Iraq, and was unable to imagine what might come afterwards.