PLANET EARTH AS THE LATEST WEAPON OF WAR
My views come from a particular time and place, namely Greece and from late 2002 to the present. Along with Dr. Nikos Katsaros, but independently, I seem to have been among the first in Greece to have started campaigning against the aerial spraying. On the island of Aegina we held, as far as I know, Europe’s first public meeting on the subject, in July 2003. The Municipal Council of our island was the first elected body in Europe to attempt to take legal action. Of course the information we were receiving was not from Greece. At that time the most prominent name was the Canadian William Thomas and we projected his film
“Mystery Lines in the Sky” at our first public meeting. .
Like activists everywhere, including later the Belfort Group in Belgium, we focused our attention initially on the appearance of the sky. In Greece we tried to secure an audience by participating in the action around climate change. But we found that we were marginalized when we tried to draw attention to what we were seeing in the sky.
Day of Action against Climate Change,
Syntagma Square, Athens, 8th December 2007
Here you can see us with our sign “SPRAYING FROM AIRCRAFT IS NOT AN ANSWER TO CLIMATE CHANGE”, lost in the crowd at a mass demonstration essentially talking to ourselves.
Given all this it was encouraging when in 2009, amidst the Climategate scandal that preceded the Copenhagen Climate Summit and contributed to its failure, we made the acquaintance of the ETC Group, opponents of geoengineering who were evidently not being ignored as completely as we were, and in fact later in 2010 at Nagoya in Japan at the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity even achieved a moratorium on most types of geoengineering.
The ETC Group is headed by the Canadian Pat Mooney. I am going to show some excerpts from an interview with him we recorded in February but before I do this we are going to screen the material that was the starting point for our discussion. We start with some extracts from a European Union publicity film on
the extension of the emissions trading scheme to aviation. After that we show part of a BBC publicity film on the effects of aircraft emission on global temperatures.
Air traffic has risen sharply in recent years and the impact of aviation on climate change is causing increasing concern “Emissions are rising by four to five percent year on year, and that is what we are seeing right now. And if year on year you have four to five percent growth in emissions that means in fifteen years a doubling.” For the European Commission it’s urgent to act, since aviation, unlike other means of transport, is not taxed on fuel, so there’s little incentive for it to cut its CO2 emissions. The European Commissioner for the Environment wants to see aviation take on its share of the effort to combat climate change. The Commission is therefore proposing to include aircraft emissions in the CO2 emissions trading scheme the European Union has pioneered as a means of meeting the Kyoto Protocol objectives. Stavros Dimas: “In order to tackle this problem in the most cost-efficient way we need to include aviation emissions into our highly successful emissions trading scheme.”
The European Commission sees the emissions trading scheme as the most cost-effective way to control aviation emissions, less expensive than a tax on fuel, for instance. Being in the scheme will push the aviation sector into a new way of thinking that gives as much attention to its environmental performance as to its economic efficiency. Bringing the aviation sector into Europe’s emissions trading scheme is expected to lead to big savings in CO2 emissions from aircraft. By 2020 these savings could be 180 million tons annually, twice the level of greenhouse gases Austria emits each year. With this measure, Europe is taking another vital step towards preventing a global climate disaster.
As aircraft plough through the upper atmosphere above 26,000 feet they often leave bright white trails behind them. These long white tails, called contrails, are caused by the water and soot from the aircraft’s jet engines. As the hot water and dirt comes out of the engine it hits the air, and it’s about minus forty degrees. It’s an explosive reaction. Natural cirrus cloud sits at about 26,000 feet and reflects some of the sun’s rays away, back into space, having a cooling effect on the earth beneath. When a condensation trail disperses it turns into a form of cirrus called contrail cirrus. More reflective than natural cirrus, it can spread over an area as big as 60,000 miles. Now more and more scientists have suggested that this contrails cirrus is affecting the temperature of the planet. After the 911 attacks in New York in 2001 they were given an opportunity to check this theory. Aircraft across the United States were grounded for three whole days, so that’s no contrails for three days. After all the data was analysed there was an increase in temperature. A very slight increase, but an increase all the same. That suggests that contrails cool the planet.
The first film says that aircraft emissions are a significant contributory factor to global warming. The second film says that aircraft emissions generate contrail cirrus, which reflects sunlight and has a cooling effect that could mitigate global warming. In other words the scientific conclusions are diametrically opposed. Does this mean that science in general is nothing more than a product of whatever political agenda one happens to have? If one wants to introduce a carbon tax or emissions trading one says that aircraft emissions are part of a global warming problem. And if one wants to promote solar radiation management or geoengineering one says that aircraft emissions can have a cooling effect and mitigate global warming. Is this an unjustified conclusion?
Pat Mooney: I think it is true to say that science is manipulated by politicians all the time. It always has been historically. It’s not new that in this particular situation that what is thought to be, or presented as, sound science, is in fact simply how a politician chooses to play the game.
W. Hall: Are you familiar with the term “exterminism” that was used in the 1980s by members of the non-aligned nuclear disarmament movement to describe the bipolar logic of the Cold War nuclear arms race? Have you heard of this term at all?
Pat Mooney: No, I haven’t actually.
W. Hall: Well, it was a term that was in use and I would like to hear your view of what I say now: that there are continuities between the bipolar logic of the Cold War nuclear arms race and the bipolar logic that justifies geoengineering. There is an assumption of an intransigent enemy. In the Cold War it was called the Soviet Union. Now it’s called the right-wing climate change skeptics. And this intransigent enemy forces you to do things that really you prefer not to do, like building more and more nuclear weapons or like spraying toxic metals into the atmosphere, because the intransigent enemy won’t allow you to solve the climate change problem the way you really want to. Now, aren’t these two scenarios equally fraudulent? Shouldn’t the person who says that anthropogenic climate change is a hoax be the most resolute opponent of geoengineering? Don’t people who believe that anthropogenic climate change is a hoax have even less excuse than ecologists to be tolerant of solar radiation management?
Before analyzing Pat Mooney’s response let us remember that the politicization of science is one of the accusations made against climate change activists by climate change skeptics, including many people in our own movement, who often speak as if Greenpeace, Al Gore, the IPCC, have exclusive responsibility for everything unacceptable that is happening from the carbon tax to emissions trading and to solar radiation management and sulphate aerosols geoengineering. This overlooks the fact that there has from the beginning been a division of labour around climate modification, with ecologists advertising global warming as a problem and climate change skeptics advertising geoengineering as a solution to it, even sometimes while simultaneously denying that there is a problem in the first place.
This contradiction is to be found even in Edward Teller’s pioneering public relations text for geoengineering “Sunscreen for Planet Earth”. The well-known and influential climate change skeptic Christopher Monckton, who very persuasively confronts and intimidates climate change activists, is also a supporter of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, a systematic advocate of geoengineering.
I think it should be obvious that, faced with this situation, where the unacceptable so-called solutions to anthropogenic global warming are being promoted by people who deny that there is even a problem of anthropogenic global warming, it becomes irrelevant which side of the mainstream global warming debate one supports. The first priority is to establish rationality. And the irrationality is not only on one side. What is more irrational, to advocate an immensely destructive solution to a problem one says does not exist, or to successfully lobby for a ban on this activity, and then pretend that the ban is being observed when it is not being observed?
W. Hall: In October 2010 at the UN Convention on Biodiversity in Nagoya, the ETC Group succeeded in having a de facto moratorium imposed on geoengineering projects and experiments. What’s your assessment of the value of that moratorium given that it is evidently not being respected?
Pat Mooney: We’ve only had one effort to violate the moratorium since 2010. Or there are two really. That we are aware of. One in California and one that was thought to be done in the U.K. The one in the U.K. was stopped. The one off the coast of California was a very small one. And then there is the crazy characters off the coast of Canada as well, this last year. That’s true, there’s a third one. But, frankly, first I’d say the major goal for us in pushing the moratorium in Nagoya was to create a political awareness on the part of governments that geoengineering was a serious issue they had to pay attention to. I think we achieved that. There is an awareness of that now.
The implication of what Pat Mooney says is that the Nagoya moratorium aimed to make governments aware of geoengineering as a problem. That is desirable and positive, but who is then going to solve the problem?
Opposition to geoengineering is not just an academic exercise because what we are talking about is an ongoing planetary fact. What are its consequences? Ozone depletion, disrupted hydrological cycle, poisoned and sterilized soils and waters, forest and species die off. This is to leave out of account the filaments that have been found in rainwater after spraying, in Europe as in the US, and have been analysed by Clifford Carnicom and found to be linked to Morgellon’s disease.
Why are they geoengineering if it is so destructive? To quote the American activist Dane Wigington: “They are doing it because they can. Because there is no one to stop them. Because, at least for the short run, geoengineering is a weapon of unimaginable power.
He continues: “Too many people fail to consider that we are not dealing with reason or sanity in regard to those that run these weather modification/weather warfare programs. This is the same power structure that has detonated over 1,800 nuclear weapons around the globe. The same power structure that sprayed its own soldiers with Agent Orange in Vietnam. The same power structure that uses depleted uranium ammunition in conflicts around the globe.”
To speak for myself I came to this subject, precisely, from the anti-nuclear movements, which in 1991 at the end of the Cold War threw away the opportunity to break the vicious circle of the nuclear arms race that was presented by the collapse of the Soviet Union.
ANDRE GROMYKO (1909-1989)
“We made more and more nuclear weapons. That was our mistaken position, absolutely mistaken. And the political leadership bears the entire blame for it. Tens of billions were spent on production of these toys. We did not have the brains to stop.”
Boris Yeltsin in the Russian Duma on 3rd September 1991 proposed 95% unilateral abolition of the Soviet nuclear arsenal. Why didn’t the Western anti-nuclear movements second this proposal instead of ignoring it? Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan became nuclear-weapons free after 1991. Why didn’t Russia become nuclear-weapons free also?
Dr. Thomas Cochran
Director of Nuclear Programs
U.S. National Resources Defense Council
“In late 1991, the Russian senior officials in the Foreign Ministry were very receptive to doing a whole number of things that would have permitted the United States to assist them in better control over their (nuclear) material. But the U.S. Government didn’t take advantage of that opportunity.”
Was it the Russian government of that time that stopped this from happening? Why should Ukrainians but not Russians have the right to live in a nuclear-weapons free country? The people who are now appealing to President Obama for a global zero on nuclear weapons, just as the final nail is going into the coffin of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, why didn’t they support Yeltsin’s proposal in 1991? Of course it is too late now. The opportunity was missed. But why aren’t they campaigning now against the militarization of climate?
Geoengineering, planet earth as the latest weapon of war, this is the post-Cold War brainchild of the nuclear weapons laboratories. It should have been, and should be, at the focus of the anti-nuclear movements’ concerns. But at least since the 1987 INF Treaty these movements have not been connecting with reality. The only exception is the 1999 report “On the Environment, Security and Foreign Policy”. Let us hope that the recent Skyguards meeting in the European Parliament can have been be a first step towards shaming the anti-nuclear movements, because of what they should have been doing, and are not doing. Why are the Lord Moncktons not addressing issues like this also, and not just shooting at the easy target of Al Gore? It is time to extract ourselves from bipolar scenarios of this kind, which really reflect nothing more than American party politics, projected onto the planet. If Europeans have the necessary political will we can establish a different, and better, way of behaving. If we set the example for honesty perhaps people like Pat Mooney will also be motivated to be more frank in what they say publicly.