CIA climate research effort decommissioned

Seal of the US Central Intelligence Agency. Author United States Government, public domain image.

Seal of the US Central Intelligence Agency. Author United States Government, public domain image.

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Mother Jones reports that the CIA Medea programme, a climate research effort which involved providing civilian experts with access to classified information, is to be shut down.

According to Mother Jones;

The program was originally launched in 1992 during the George H.W. Bush administration and was later shut down during President George W. Bush’s term. It was re-launched under the Obama administration in 2010, with the aim of providing security clearances to roughly 60 climate scientists. Those scientists were given access to classified information that could be useful for researching global warming and tracking environmental changes that could have national security implications.

Read more:

Some experts have expressed surprise the Medea programme is being shut down. But the programme is not without its critics.

Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, a 23-year veteran of the CIA who had first-hand knowledge of the program before leaving the agency in 2009. He said he was not surprised to see Medea close down.

“In my judgment, the CIA is not the best lead agency for the issue; the agency’s ‘in-box’ is already overflowing with today’s threats and challenges,” he said via email. “CIA has little strategic planning reserves, relatively speaking, and its overseas presence is heavily action-oriented.”

The programme also attracted criticism from members of the US government:

… when CIA Director Leon Panetta stood up the climate change center in 2009, conservative lawmakers attempted to block its funding.

“The CIA’s resources should be focused on monitoring terrorists in caves, not polar bears on icebergs,” Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said at the time.

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81 thoughts on “CIA climate research effort decommissioned

  1. I suppose the strategic analysis was that in a warming world, spies would no longer need to wear trench coats, thus making it more difficult to determine who is or is not a spy.

      • Oh, the usual way, jones. They’ll be sitting on a park bench on a Thursday reading the Sunday Times, and you sit beside them, looking straight ahead, and say the secret code phrase, “97% of Climate Scientists believe Climate change is real.”
        The counter sign is……… s’cuse me a moment, jones. Someone is at the door.
        AHHHHH!…. No! Not That! Anything but that! I’ll go quietly!

  2. “In my judgment, the CIA is not the best lead agency for the issue; the agency’s ‘in-box’ is already overflowing with today’s threats and challenges,”

    But we have just been assured on the highest authority that ‘climate change’ (sic) is the per-eminent and existential threat to the country indeed the world. Surely the CIA is dropping the ball here if that is true?

    • Yes, Obama has said that problems in the Middle East are due to climate change – at least that claim absolves him of any lack of consistent leadership in the mess.

  3. Was the underlying purpose to monitor the effect of the weather modification programme that was run over the same period? There has been a polite gap between shutting that down and closing this project, perhaps after the final reports were handed in.
    The military value of local weather modification is high.

    • This is incredibly redundant with operational capabilities that are in place in all the armed services. The Navy alone has more than 1,000 personnel that deal with nothing but weather, and a good 20% of them are credentialed by one of the professional organizations, have a formal degree, or both,

      • … and with Obama tasking NASA’s chief administrator, Charles Bolden, with the “foremost” task of reaching out to the Muslim world … one can see the blurring of responsibilities among all of our bloated government’s agencies.

  4. Lordy. Tightening a governmental belt is glacially slow. Your post does not bring me any amount of celebration. It instead highlights the continued resistance of proven useless government programs to…die.

    • A government program is an emergent life form who’s main motivation is survival.

  5. It makes me wonder if their justification for shutting it down is…….the science is settled

      • Tim sez:
        “Or changed to covert.”
        Yeah… Black Ops… that’s the ticket. They switched from studying the weather to studying why it gets dark at night. All reports triple-encrypted and all off-budget, of course.
        Back in a minute…………………………..
        OK. No Black helicopters. I can hit Post Comment now.

  6. “The programme also attracted criticism from members of the US government:… when CIA Director Leon Panetta stood up the climate change center in 2009, conservative lawmakers attempted to block its funding.“The CIA’s resources should be focused on monitoring terrorists in caves, not polar bears on icebergs,” Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said at the time.”
    “Programme”? “Stood up”? It’s almost as difficult to understand the English language when written by the British as it is to understand it when spoken by someone from Mississippi, but then I are an enjinear.

    • I was also a bit confused by that. Does it mean that Panetta created the climate change centre, or brushed them off in the sense of not turning up for a date?

    • Sorry, but I must correct this (I often work as a checker): “I are</strike is an enjinear.”
      There. That looks better.

    • enjinears can rite. The head of my university’s testing bureau told me that engineers score significantly higher than average on verbal skill tests, as well as scoring at very high levels on quantitative tests. He also said, “Intelligence correlates positively with everything.” Tests show that intelligent girls are better looking than average. The dumb blonde and the illiterate engineer are invalid stereotypes.

  7. If the data was only available to 60 climate scientists then what good is it? I’ve seen the data and we are warming/cooling/flatlining. Trust me I’ve seen the data and you can’t.
    Just what climate science needs. More data that can’t be shared.

    • It has value if they were not watching the weather but the effects of their attempts to modify it. One such experiment was run in South Africa for some time, exposed and complained about by a phone-in artist by the name of ‘Eddie in Ficksburg’. He sounded like a looney but he was right and that experiment has been shut down. Or turned off anyway. Maybe these guys studied weather modification, not weather.

  8. The CIA are very serious people.
    They….kill enemies of the USA.. For real.
    If climate change meant anything to them in terms of altering the foreign policy dynamic, they’d be all over it.
    I guess Climate Change is Bull Sh1t.

    • PW,
      Climate change is not BS, it is a naturally and continually occurring process upon which people have little or no impact. As far as the CIA is concerned, it is always difficult to determine their real motivation since though they are influenced by the politics of those in charge, they also love secrecy as it has its uses and its own charm. Like living on a hill so that one can look down upon others. If the powers that be want secrecy, I doubt the CIA would resist. So, who knows the real motivation.?

  9. “Hubbard Glacier, located in southeast Alaska, is the world’s largest non-polar tidewater glacier. It has been steadily advancing since it was first mapped in 1895; occasionally, the advance creates an ice or sediment dam that blocks a tributary fjord (Russell Fiord). The sustained advance raises the probability of long-term closure in the near-future, which will strongly impact the ecosystem of Russell Fiord and the nearby community of Yakutat. Here, we examine a 43-year record of flow speeds and terminus position to understand the large-scale dynamics of Hubbard Glacier. Our long-term record shows that the rate of terminus advance has increased slightly since 1895, with the exception of a slowed advance between approximately 1972 and 1984. The short-lived closure events in 1986 and 2002 were not initiated by perturbations in ice velocity or environmental forcings, but were likely due to fluctuations in sedimentation patterns at the terminus. This study points to the significance of a coupled system where short-term velocity fluctuations and morainal shoal development control tidewater glacier terminus position.”

    • great link. Thanks for the info ren. You always have some interesting links. Especially liked the link to dutchsinse, iirc, with the earthquake graphics software I saw on the talkshop.

  10. Transpaaaaaarency! Apparently now available only through Hillary Clinton’s server.

    • No, you have it backwards, Hillary’s server is transparent, (i.e., vapor)

      • Shhhh, please don’t tell anyone that the 18 & 1/2 minutes of missing emails from Hillary’s server have been pored over for years by intelligent servants.
        If we’re all very good, we’ll get selected excerpts from them soap operaed out through the ever ensuing weekday ennuies.

  11. Having spent 6 years at Rockwell Aerospace, I have a former co-worker, who helped develop a part for a spy satellite, who has an anonymous source, who claims to know somebody, who has it on good authority, that this is all just a ruse to get us to believe that they’re shutting down, so they can function under double secret operation rules that, as we all know, are so important for good climate research

      • We already found it but it will have to remain secret for national security and climate research purpose.

      • What secret? Everyone knows that a UFO in the Marianas Trench is absorbing the energy and transmitting it to a mother-ship on the back side of the moon.

      • <redact>The ███████████████ was ████████████ ! </redact>

      • Mike McMillan,
        Far be it from me to contradict your point but ————————————— and —————————————- especially when —————————————————–however ————————————————–.

  12. Of course! The SUPREME Damocles sword is deadly space electricity, to be repelled with (Boeing patented) Laser-Plasma-Shielding Earth eventually!!! National Space Weather Strategy Released for Public Comment | NOAA / NWS Space Weather

  13. Now I’m curious, what classified information would a climate “scientist” need in order to research climate?

    • My guess is Arctic ice cover. It’s of strategic importance as submarines wander around there.
      And the reference to polar bears implies it’s up that way too.

    • Secret stuff. Too secret to tell anybody else. But it’s there, right there in our secret files, where we keep all our secret stuff. Trust us.

  14. From bitter experience we know that Climate Scientists, at least the famous ones who would likely receive security clearances, are the worst kind of untrustworthy, sell out to the high bidder scum, our society has ever had the misfortune to produce.
    They’re already enemy agents and spies, built into their character.
    I wouldn’t put it past a Trenberth or Mann to suck up all the national secrets he could Hoover then defecting to North Korea.

  15. Perhaps the CIA was the first government agency to actually look at the climate data for the last 19 years instead of the climate models, and came to the most logical conclusion – “Neaw, there ain’t nuttin’ here, so let’s close this stupid department.”

    • I agree, they concluded cAGW is false so why would they be needed? If they managed to get the false nature of cAGW through to Obama, he did not like it and shut them down. Either way if cAGW was a real threat why would they be shut down, after al Obama says it is the greatest immediate threat to mankind/USA and his preeminent focus !!!

    • @ Jim S. Exactly.
      Some of the CIA must have Americas interests at heart, they must look into a meme that the President and Secretary of State both insist is the number one danger to the USA.
      If a logical honest evaluation was actually done, what do you think they would find?
      And what would be the political response?
      Shut down? There never was any such investigation, the CIA was never involved.
      Kind of begs the question, as the Pollies insist a clear and present danger, yet no investigation by security agencies….

      • I imagine when Panetta heard Obama’s speech to the Coast Guard he laughed out loud because CIA Director Panetta actually reads the daily sit-reps so he understands true threats.
        Plus, I’ll bet the other spy organization guys were poking fun at Leon down at the pub.

  16. Currently DMSP-5D3 F20 is the last satellite in the DMSP program and may be launched from VA on an F9 (SpaceX) rocket for Air Force. NPOESS, joint Air Force – NASA – NOAA follow-on program was canceled. A later proposed follow-on program DWSS (Defense Weather Satellite System) was removed from FY2012 Defense Authorization Act, effectively killing it and Air Force subsequently instructed Northrop Grumman to halt work at that time.
    Looks SOL to me.
    Have to contract out to France or NATO.

  17. Is it possible they finally dropped this cia climate faction because they have access to the real data? That data which would show no actual evidence for AGW for about 30 years? Nah, that would be me just thinking like a typical denier again. i think 27 years or whatever was enough for this organizations that s supposed to be non political and deal with actual real threats. This is big.

  18. “Yes, Mr. President, we know full well that your agenda requires such statem…”
    “Yes Sir, as I was saying…”
    “No, Mr. President, we can not and will not support such a plan.”
    “Sir, that’s not the kind of world…”
    “Yes Sir… ”
    “No Sir! We will not stand down! We will go public,”
    “That is correct, Sir.”
    “Very well, Sir…”
    “All right, Sir, we already have the announcement prepared.”
    “Of course, Sir, we anticipated your reaction.”
    “Yes Sir, your speech to the cadets did move things forward…”

  19. It is fear. AMO in the Atlantic drops very quickly since 2010. The ice in the Arctic will increase rapidly. The secret !!!

  20. The only information the CIA (publicly) releases, is disinformation.
    They are a bunch of sneaky bastards, glad they are on my side.

    • What are the odds that that sub surfaced so close to a polar bear family ?
      I think there are way more bears than we have noticed, it’s the camouflage 🙂

    • I served on Subs back in the 70’s. On one of trips near the pole we saw two within minutes of surfacing. Thought this was neat and rare, till I learned that it happens often. Made me wonder if/how they know we are coming. Lookouts are stationed on the sail (the highest portion of the Sub out of water) looking for Polar Bears when Sailors are out on the Ice on North Pole Liberty. A Sailor from a different Sub has pictures of several taken when they surfaced at the North Pole. How/why do they go there?

  21. I don’t know about ’92, but in 1995 Bill Clinton, under pressure from Al Gore, signed an Executive order declassifying most of the early Corona imagery. The move was actually pushed by both Gore and early Project Corona scientists who had noticed dramatic changes since the early 60’s.

  22. Here’s a new hypothesis. The urge to classify was dependent on the need to keep imaging capability secret and now that much of the rest of the world exceeds our capacity, there is no longer any need to keep our capabilities secret.
    Yep, that’s the tikket.

    • That’s exacty right. But closet industries develop within the Agency and entire careers are then devoted to keeping stuff secret, whether it’s obsolete or not. Breaking down those walls can be difficult. In this particular case, I think the scientists were right to push declassication; sort of like an early crowd sourcing effort. Whether Gore already had the idea to use the imagery to create his own climate alarm industry I can’t say. The scientists just wanted more eyes analyzing the pictures at a low cost.

      • I heard an old-timer once relate how Departments of Syphilogy persisted in Medical Schools long after the introduction of penicillin. Those departmental experts even persisted, but wisely eventually started calling themselves dermatologists.

  23. I’m a bit surprised CIA climate research is being decommissioned right after the President gave a speech naming climate change our greatest risk. If Obama is asking the military to fight climate change, why wouldn’t he want the CIA to provide intelligence for their upcoming battles? Without proper “intelligence,” they might end up tilting at windmills. On second thought, any attack on climate change is going to be an attack on an imaginary enemy anyway, so no intelligence needed.
    But what really surprises me is that they don’t seem to have thought this through. Giving security clearances to climate scientists is a great way for government to not only direct climate research but to control the release of information. All they would have to do is say, “Sorry, we can’t respond to your FOIA request because the data are classified.” They could also threaten researchers who attempt to report “skeptical” findings with violating national security by revealing classified information. It’s just not like this administration to pass up the opportunity to completely control the climate narrative.

    • The correlation of what Obama says with what he does is <0. I think even his supporters agree.

  24. Don’t be alarmed, this expenditure has been part of “erring on the side of caution” in regards to climate change.

  25. who will leak the names of the 60 scientists?
    (tho, by the sounds of it, there’s potentially a lot more than 60 in cahoots with the CIA outside the Medea program)
    amusingly, those commenting at motherjones seem quite happy about CIA involvement! lol.

  26. It’s no surprise the CIA is involved. It’s always been about world government and the CIA no doubt were mainly concerned about how to secure the world’s resources under the pretexts of global warming and how to put pressure on world leaders to play ball.
    After all the CIA has nothing to do with ‘National Security’ and everything to do with guarding the interests of their central banking Oligarch masters.

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