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Climate Change Catastrophe * Doomsday Clock Ticks * Missile Defense = Fraud

6 March 2002 has been updated.

Under recent issues at homepage and Flyby Links, check out a new links page for Alternative News, resources, reviews, analyses, discussion, and mainstream media web sites.

Editor's Note:

Out of the darkness comes some glimmer of light, and the debate is mounting on the question of the relevance of missile defense as the best policy for the security of the U.S. in the here and now. But before you get to the missile defense analysis, you need to go by item 1, which is on a report by scientists showing that (global warming induced) climate change catastrophes could be imminent. And if you want to help on this issue, see item 2 on specific beneficial legislation you can support by calling your US Senators this week. The current debate is on a US energy policy that would pollute more with coal, expand nuclear power and its pollution-radiation, and drill for oil in one of the last pristine wilderness areas left in the good-ole USA. If you can make it through these first two, item 3 is on the atomic scientist's clock going down two notches to seven-seconds before midnight. Item 4 presents more evidences of Academic-Industry-Military fraud with BMD testing results. Ted Postol's response is straightforward, which contrasts his MIT colleagues' treacherous deceit. And the last item, where the light glimmers, shows evidences of support weakening for missile defense in the US Congress. When you speak to your Senators on Energy, please, also, request that they consider sponsoring a Bill similar to H.R. 3616, which bans space-based weapons. We need a miracle this spring, and putting an end to the escalation of the arms race would be a good beginning.

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1) A report on climate change: catastrophe could be imminent
2) Your Actions Requested for Senate Energy Debate
3) 'Doomsday Clock' Moved Forward
4) MIT team tied to questionable missile studies
5) Missile Defense Support Tapering Off


1) A report on climate change: catastrophe could be imminent

Goodbye cruel world

A report by top US scientists on climate change suggests that catastrophe could be imminent

Jeremy Rifkin
Friday March 1, 2002
The Guardian

We live in a world that has become so desensitised by watching calamities unfold on global television - both natural and human-induced - that it takes something really spectacular even to get our attention.

And it usually has to be visually dramatic to register, much less elicit a deep emotional response - such as the tragic events of September 11.

Recently, I came across a frightening report published by the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) - the nation's most august scientific body. Yet, because there was no visually provocative content, the report had received only a couple of short paragraphs tucked away inside a few newspapers.

Here is what the academy had to say it is possible that the global warming trend projected over the course of the next 100 years could, all of a sudden and without warning, dramatically accelerate in just a handful of years - forcing a qualitative new climatic regime which could undermine ecosystems and human settlements throughout the world, leaving little or no time for plants, animals and humans to adjust.

The new climate could result in a wholesale change in the earth's environment, with effects that would be felt for thousands of years. If the projections and warnings in this study turn out to be prophetic, no other catastrophic event in all of recorded history will have had as damaging an impact on the future of human civilisation and the life of the planet.

A year ago the UN intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) issued a voluminous report forecasting that global average surface temperature is likely to rise by 1.4 to 5.8 degrees centigrade between now and 2100. If that projection holds up, we were told, the change in temperature forecast for the next 100 years will be larger than any climate change on earth in more than 10,000 years.

The impacts on the earth's biosphere are going to be of a qualitative kind. To understand how significant this rise in temperature is likely to be, we need to keep in mind that a 5 degrees centigrade increase in temperature between the last ice age and today resulted in much of the northern hemisphere of the planet going from being buried under thousands of feet of ice to being ice-free.

The UN study predicts that a temperature rise of 1.4-5.8 degrees centigrade over the course of the coming century could include the melting of glaciers and the Arctic polar cap, sea water rise, increased precipitation and storms and more violent weather patterns, destabilisation and loss of habitats, migration northward of ecosystems, contamination of fresh water by salt water, massive forest dieback, accelerated species extinction and increased droughts.

The IPCC report also warns of adverse impacts on human settlements, including the submerging of island nations and low-lying countries, diminishing crop yields, especially in the southern hemisphere, and the spread of tropical disease northward into previously temperate zones.

The newly released NAS report begins by noting that the current projections about global warming and its ecological, economic and social impacts cited in the UN report are based on the assumption of a steady upward climb in temperatures, more or less evenly distributed over the course of the 21st century. But that assumption, they say, may be faulty - there is a possibility that temperatures could rise suddenly in just a few years' time, creating a new climatic regime virtually overnight.

They also point out that abrupt changes in climate, whose effects are long lasting, have occurred repeatedly in the past 100,000 years. For example, at the end of the Younger-Dryas interval about 11,500 years ago, "global climate shifted dramatically, in many regions by about one-third to one-half the difference between ice age and modern conditions, with much of the change occurring over a few years".

According to the study"An abrupt climate change occurs when the climate system is forced to cross some threshold, triggering a transition to a new state at a rate determined by the climate system itself and faster than the cause." Moreover, the paleoclimatic record shows that "the most dramatic shifts in climate have occurred when factors controlling the climate system were changing". Given the fact that human activity - especially the burning of fossil fuels - is expected to double the CO2 content emitted into the atmosphere in the current century, the conditions could be ripe for an abrupt change in climate around the world, perhaps in only a few years.

What is really unnerving is that it may take only a slight deviation in boundary conditions or a small random fluctuation somewhere in the system "to excite large changes ... when the system is close to a threshold", says the NAS committee.

An abrupt change in climate, of the kind that occurred during the Younger-Dryas interval, could prove catastrophic for ecosystems and species around the world. During that particular period, for instance, spruce, fir and paper birch trees experienced mass extinction in southern New England in less than 50 years. The extinction of horses, mastodons, mammoths, and sabre-toothed tigers in North America were greater at that time than in any other extinction event in millions of years.

The committee lays out a potentially nightmarish scenario in which random triggering events take the climate across the threshold into a new regime, causing widespread havoc and destruction.

Ecosystems could collapse suddenly with forests decimated in vast fires and grasslands drying out and turning into dust bowls. Wildlife could disappear and waterborne diseases such as cholera and vector-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue and yellow fever, could spread uncontrollably beyond host ranges, threatening human health around the world.

The NAS concludes its report with a dire warning"On the basis of the inference from the paleoclimatic record, it is possible that the projected change will occur not through gradual evolution, proportional to greenhouse gas concentrations, but through abrupt and persistent regime shifts affecting subcontinental or larger regions - denying the likelihood or downplaying the relevance of past abrupt changes could be costly."

Global warming represents the dark side of the commercial ledger for the industrial age. For the past several hundred years, and especially in the 20th century, human beings burned massive amounts of "stored sun" in the form of coal, oil and natural gas, to produce the energy that made an industrial way of life possible. That spent energy has accumulated in the atmosphere and has
begun to adversely affect the climate of the planet and the workings of its many ecosystems.

If we were to measure human accomplishments in terms of the sheer impact our activities have had on the life of the planet, then we would sadly have to conclude that global warming is our most significant accomplishment to date, albeit a negative one.

We have affected the biochemistry of the earth and we have done it in less than a century. If a qualitative climate change were to occur suddenly in the coming century - within less than 10 years - as has happened many times before in geological history, we may already have written our epitaph.

When future generations look back at this period, tens of thousands of years from now, it is possible that the only historical legacy we will have left them in the geologic record is a great change in the earth's climate and its impact on the biosphere.

Original Article is posted:

Jeremy Rifkin is the author of The Biotech Century (Gollancz) and president of the Foundation on Economic Trends in Washington DC
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2002

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Related Story Link:

Small Commonwealth states fear global warming could cause a catastrophic flood of migrants from Pacific and Indian ocean islands, delegates to a key leadership summit warned Tuesday, 5 March 2001. See:


2) Your Actions Requested for Senate Energy Debate

The biggest environmental policy fight in a decade is now nearing its peak: the Senate has just begun its debate on energy policy.

Enron and other giant corporations have already forced a disastrous energy bill through the House, with the support of the White House.

The Senate is our only chance to stop them. Please call BOTH your Senators now at:

The Congressional Switchboard telephone number is 202-224-3121

Make sure the aide you speak with know if you're a constituent. Then urge them to:

1. "Please support the Kerry-Hollings CAFE bill --
2. Support the Jeffords Renewable Energy bill -- and
3. Block_ oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge."

1. The Kerry-Hollings "CAFE" bill would increase the fuel economy of new cars and light trucks to an average of 35 miles per gallon by 2013 (CAFÉ stands for "Corporate Average Fuel Economy"). This will save as much oil as we import from Iraq and Kuwait combined. It's the single biggest, fastest step we can take to reduce our dependence on oil, a crucial goal for our national security, our economy, and our environment.

2. The Jeffords Renewable Energy bill will help move America toward a sustainable energy future, by requiring that 20% of our energy be generated from renewable sources by the year 2020.

3. Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is just plain wrong. The Refuge is the intact heart of the last great wilderness ecosystem in North America. It contains only enough oil to last the United States 6 months, and that would take 10 years to come online. President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and their friends in the energy business are determined to drill it. But once it's gone, it's gone forever.

Please make your calls now. This environmental battle is vital. Make sure your voice is heard.

The Congressional Switchboard telephone number is 202-224-3121

This message was originally sent from, Wes Boyd, on March 6, 2002

If you wish, please let them know you're making these calls to help them keep a count:


3) 'Doomsday Clock' Moved Forward

'Doomsday Clock' Moved Forward To Reflect Higher Nuclear Threat

Chicago (AFP) Feb 27, 2002

The Cold War era may have passed, but the threat from nuclear weapons is greater today than it was some 20 years ago, an influential group of US academics and scientists said Wednesday.

The group, which makes up the board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, raised its nuclear-danger warning Wednesday, citing the lack of progress on nuclear disarmament and the efforts of terrorists to acquire nuclear and biological weapons.

"The vector is certainly moving in the wrong direction from our point of view in a post-Cold War world," said George Lopez, chairman of the Bulletin's board of directors.

"The record since 1991 is a record of systematic disappointment," he continued, adding: "We are maybe less close to cataclysm, but we are no closer to global security with regards to weapons of mass destruction."

In a symbolic representation of the danger level, the Bulletin moved the hands of the so-called "Doomsday Clock" two minutes forward, to seven minutes before midnight.

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Leon Lederman did the honours in a ceremony at the University of Chicago.

The clock was created by scientists at the University of Chicago in 1947 and has been adjusted periodically since then to reflect the waxing and waning threat to the human race from weapons of mass destruction.

Midnight, originally conceived of as nuclear Armageddon, has now come to represent a more limited threat that would create "midnight on Earth" in one place, according to Stephen Schwartz, the journal's publisher.

On this occasion, the Bulletin's board decided to reset the clock because of a number of concerns -- chief among them the United States' decision to act unilaterally in some recent moves rather than in concert with its allies, Lopez told reporters.

The board pointed to the US government's decision to withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia and President George W. Bush's reference to an "axis of evil" -- made up of Iran, Iraq and North Korea -- in his January 29 State of the Union address.

In particular, the board members regretted the administration's decision to abandon negotiations with North Korea.

"Clearly there is a great deal of concern about many of the things that the Bush administration has said and that the Bush administration has done," said Schwartz.

Other considerations included the increasing tensions between the nuclear powers of India and Pakistan in the wake of the December 13 terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament, and evidence that the al-Qaeda network was trying to acquire fissile materials to make dirty bombs.

Wednesday's action marks just the third time the clock -- a legacy of the Manhattan Project -- has been reset since the end of the Cold War in 1991.

It was reset in 1998 after India and Pakistan went public with their nuclear tests.

The Bulletin was established in 1945 by scientists who worked on the US government's top-secret Manhattan Project, which resulted in the creation of the world's first atomic bomb.

All rights reserved. © 2002 Agence France-Presse.
Originally posted story and links, see

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The last three paragraphs of the statement by the Board of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientist, follows:

"The United States should reconsider its plans to walk away from the ABM Treaty in June. As the U.S. intelligence community recently concluded, ballistic missiles are neither the most likely nor the most destructive threat facing the United States.

Other measures that would increase global stability include a ban on the deployment of space-based weapons, whether designed to damage or disrupt satellites or to attack targets on the ground or in the air; full adherence by all parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention; and the resumption of negotiations on a verification protocol for the Biological Weapons Convention. Stronger international support for the global movement to limit the spread of small arms and to ban land mines, which each year maim or kill tens of thousands of people, most of them innocent civilians, would also be a welcome and necessary development.

The clock is ticking."

To read the complete statement, see:


4) MIT team tied to questionable missile studies

[This story ran on page A1 of the Boston Globe on 3/4/2002]

MIT team tied to questionable missile studies
By David Abel, Globe Staff, 3/4/2002

A Pentagon agency, two major military contractors, and an independent research team led by MIT scientists produced flawed studies that exaggerated the success of a key test used to justify spending billions of dollars on the fledgling national missile defense program, according to two reports obtained by the Globe.

The long-awaited reports, to be released today by the General Accounting Office, detail the flawed analysis of critical missile-defense technologies provided by the contractors, Boeing Co. and TRW, verified by senior researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory, and hailed by the Pentagon's recently renamed Missile Defense Agency.

In reports about a highly sophisticated sensor used in the first test of the missile-defense program - a technology similar to one now designed for the vital task of distinguishing decoys from warheads - contractors described its performance as ''excellent'' and the overall test as a ''success.'' The team directed by two MIT scientists, which evaluated the contractors' reports of the test, pronounced them ''basically sound.'' And officials in the Missile Defense Agency called the first test of the technology in space ''highly successful.''

Yet the review by the GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, found that crucial elements of the 1997 test failed - prompting investigators to raise questions about the oversight of a program that has already cost billions of dollars and could, if the Bush administration has its way, ultimately cost taxpayers as much as $238 billion, according to a recent estimate by the Congressional Budget Office.

''The data are garbage - they had to use all these software shenanigans and throw out two-thirds of the data to make it look like a success,'' said a congressional source close to the GAO investigation. ''Up to now, there has been no independent verification of the contractors' claims. This pulls out the rug from those calling the test a success. By any definition, there's no way to call it a success.''

The main defect in the test, according to the GAO, was that the infrared sensor built by Boeing failed to cool to a sufficient temperature to function properly. Also, the power supply of the sensor turned out to be much louder than expected. The excess heat and noise, missile specialists said, caused a significant distortion, by a factor of up to 200 times, in the ability of the sensor to detect targets. As a result, the sensor often detected targets where none existed.

The performance of the sensor is crucial because the planned land-based national missile defense system might have only one chance to hit its target. And once the military launches an antimissile against an incoming ballistic missile, military analysts say they believe it would almost certainly face a barrage of decoys. Moving at great speeds, it would have to distinguish the fake from the real in a matter of minutes.

Regarding what became known in defense circles as the ''MIT study,'' a review of the contractors' findings that the Pentagon used to champion missile defense spending, the GAO faulted the team led by scientists at Lincoln Lab for relying on data processed by TRW - instead of seeking the contractor's raw data.

Although the team reported that TRW's sensor contained a few software glitches, GAO investigators said the scientists' use of the processed data allowed them to review only 14 of 54 seconds worth of data. The limited look at the sensor's performance, according to the GAO, skewed the scientists' review and led them to pronounce the sensor's software well designed and say it worked properly.

The failure to review the raw data, investigators wrote in the report, means ''the team cannot be said to have definitively proved or disproved TRW's claim that its software successfully discriminated the mock warhead from the decoys.''

For MIT physicist Theodore Postol, a frequent critic of the Pentagon's missile defense plans, the omissions of his colleagues and their stamp of approval for the Missile Defense Agency amounts to scientific fraud. Postol recently lodged complaints with the MIT Corporation about the study - charging that the university's president, Charles M. Vest, knew of the alleged misconduct and did nothing about it.

''This certainly has the appearance of a well-orchestrated fraud,'' Postol said. ''The managers at Lincoln Lab either knew or should have known that this experiment was a total failure - and they falsely represented it as a success. The implications of that deceit could cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.''

MIT officials did not return calls for comment. But Roger Sudbury, a spokesman for Lincoln Lab, told the Globe last month that the Lexington-based research arm of MIT received no complaints from contractors or the Pentagon about their review, and he said, ''There is no evidence of fraud.''

Lieutenant Colonel Rick Lehner, a spokesman for the Missile Defense Agency, which oversees the Pentagon's effort to develop an overlapping air, land, sea, and space-based missile shield, insisted that, as far as he knows, the sensor guiding Boeing's ''kill vehicle'' worked as planned.

Still, in the scheme of the overall missile defense plan, he said, the 1997 test is irrelevant. Not long after the test, the Pentagon decided to use a sensor built by Raytheon Corp., one with ''totally different'' technology than the one designed by Boeing.

''I would guess our people will take issue with this report,'' Lehner said. ''At face value, the only thing I was told was that the Boeing kill vehicle did discriminate against the decoys and warhead. Until the agency tells me otherwise, I have to go with that.''

The GAO reports, requested by Representative Edward J. Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, and two other members of Congress, were sought nearly two years ago after Postol sent the White House a detailed analysis of the 1997 test, alleging both Boeing and TRW misrepresented the results.

The MIT professor analyzed the raw data of the test, which he obtained through Nira Schwartz, a senior staff engineer at TRW who was fired after she reported that the software her company developed would not distinguish decoys from warheads. Schwartz, who is suing TRW, and Postol insisted it's a fallacy to say the 1997 test is irrelevant.

Because both the Boeing and Raytheon sensor use ''infrared eyes,'' ''It's the equivalent of looking at a bunch of suitcases with only your eyes and trying to find a bomb inside,'' Postol said. ''If I give you a telescope, a microscope, or dark glasses when you look at the suitcase, none will tell you which has the bomb.''

Despite the allegations, the GAO studies stop short of calling the reports and exaggerated results fraud. Unlike most GAO reports, and despite congressional requests for them, they don't include recommendations.

The reason, another congressional source close to the investigation said, is political. The reports, delayed by sluggish responses from the Pentagon and contractors for documents, were vetted very closely to avoid casting too much blame on any one party, the source said.

''Much of the findings were buried inside the text and purposely written in technical language so as not to highlight many things,'' the source said. ''There are many political pressures, and the report was certainly edited for political reasons.''

With billions of dollars at stake and $100 million a pop for each antimissile test, a lot is riding on whether it is technically possible to build a national missile defense that works. Over the past five years, three out of the five antimissile tests hit their targets. But during that time, the tests have been downgraded in complexity, now using only one decoy that is much larger and brighter than the mock warhead.

For the Bush administration, which vowed to build a robust national missile defense during its campaign two years ago, fielding a viable system is one of its highest priorities. In December, President Bush announced the United States would withdraw in June from the 30-year-old ABM treaty, which bars a nationwide missile shield.

In a statement about the GAO reports, Markey, who has proposed a bill calling for independent oversight of the missile shield, cautioned that relying on questionable technology could amount to a massive waste of taxpayer dollars.

''The national missile defense program needs independent oversight and testing milestones to ensure that it works before we spend countless billions of dollars deploying it,'' he said. ''If it can't tell the warhead apart from a decoy, what good is it?''

David Abel can be reached by e-mail at
The original article is posted:

© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.


5) Missile Defense Support Tapering Off

Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
(formerly Council for a Livable World Education Fund)
March 4, 2002 Analysis:

"Missile Defense Support Tapering Off"

A review of transcripts from four Senate and House Armed Services Committee hearings suggests the following conclusions:

1. Support for national missile defense may remain strong, but that support is less intense than last year.

2. Some supporters of missile defense are arguing that homeland defense should be a higher priority than missile defense.

3. Missile defense is not a top priority for most Members of Congress.

4. Many Democrats who muted their criticisms of missile defense after the September 11 terrorist attacks are beginning to find their voices.

For the complete analysis report, see:

Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
110 Maryland Avenue, NE
Washington, D.C. 20002
(202) 543-4100 x.131

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For a related commentary from -- see

THE TIDE TURNS - by Justin Raimondo

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