Posts Tagged: planning

Dec 10

UK: Anti-terror cops arrest 12, uh, “people” for planning to set off bombs in “multiple locations”

“This is a large scale, pre-planned and intelligence led operation involving several forces.” Against whom? “People.” “Men.” “Five from Cardiff, four from Stoke and three from London.” “Aged between 17 and 28.” Are we getting any warmer? “Plotters.” “Suspects.”

We apparently don’t know much of anything about them. They could be Wesleyan fanatics. Amish separatists. Animal rights activists. But one thing we don’t know about them is specified in the article: “It is not thought the men have any connection with Taimur Abdulwahab al-Abdaly, the Stockholm suicide bomber who lived in Luton for many years.”

So that would seem to assume what the article has up to that point studiously avoided telling us: that they were Islamic jihadists, which everyone already knew anyway. But imagine the press in December 1941 talking about “men” who bombed Pearl Harbor, and the article telling us that it was not thought that they had any connection to the Emperor Hirohito. Well, what kind of connection makes a connection? What if they believed the same things and were working toward the same goals? Why not mention Japan? What would have been gained?

“Anti-terror police arrest 12 people in nationwide raids,” by Peter Hutchison in the Telegraph, December 20 (thanks to all who sent this in):

Anti-terror police arrested twelve men on Monday morning in a large-scale counter terrorism operation spanning cities across the country.

The men - five from Cardiff, four from Stoke and three from London - were detained on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism in Britain.

Aged between 17 and 28, the suspects were detained at approximately 5am.

Police believe the plotters were planning to set off a number of bombs in “multiple locations”, according to reports….

It is not yet known whether police believed an attack was imminent.

Searches are now being conducted at the home addresses, plus the address in Birmingham and another residence in London….

Assistant Commissioner John Yates, national lead for counter terrorism policing, says: “This is a large scale, pre-planned and intelligence led operation involving several forces.

“The operation is in its early stages so we are unable to go into detail at this time about the suspected offences. However, I believe it was necessary at this time to take action in order to ensure public safety.”

It is not thought the men have any connection with Taimur Abdulwahab al-Abdaly, the Stockholm suicide bomber who lived in Luton for many years.

Jihad Watch

Dec 10

Iraqi authorities say jihadists planning suicide attacks in U.S. and Europe during Christmas season

Those relentless Zionists — still spreading “Islamophobia”!

“Iraq: Plot to bomb US, European countries revealed,” by Qassim Abdul-zahra for the Associated Press, December 15 (thanks to JCB):

BAGHDAD - Iraqi authorities have obtained confessions from captured insurgents who claim al-Qaida is planning suicide attacks in the United States and Europe during the Christmas season, two senior officials said Wednesday.

Iraqi Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani told The Associated Press that the botched bombing in central Stockholm last weekend was among the alleged plots the insurgents revealed. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, in a telephone interview from New York, called the claims “a critical threat.”…

Jihad Watch

Dec 10

Dept. of last minute planning

CNN’s Peter Hamby uncovers a hint as to when Michael Steele made up his mind to run for re-election:

Steele kept the political world guessing about his future until late Monday, but according to data available on and, the domain was registered on Dec. 8.

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Ben Smith’s Blog

Dec 10

Facebook is “the new go-to place for Jihadi recruitment, radicalization, and planning”

“Facebook features pages devoted to convicted and suspected terrorists, radical clerics, and terrorist organizations” — and they never seem to be taken down, although there have been numerous reports of Facebook shutting down anti-jihad and pro-Israel pages.

“The Jihadist Social Network Underworld,” from IPT News, December 10:

“When are these crusaders gonna realize they can’t win?,” Baltimore bomb plotter Antonio Martinez [aka Muhammad Hussain -- RS] boasted on his Facebook page on August 4th. “How many more lives are they willing to sacrifice. ALLAHUAKBAR.” As details emerge about the plot to bomb a military recruitment center in Baltimore, MD, one thing is clear-Facebook is having a coming out party as the new go-to place for Jihadi recruitment, radicalization, and planning.

According to an internal DHS memorandum from early 2010, “jihadi supporters and mujahideen are increasingly using Facebook, one of the largest, most popular and diverse social networking sites, both in the United States and globally, to propagate operational information.” While the DHS report, reported on earlier today by, provides an academic study of terrorist groups’ infiltration of social networking sites, an IPT analysis of the Facebook accounts of Martinez and his friends and associates shows that the threat is very real.

Facebook features pages devoted to convicted and suspected terrorists, radical clerics, and terrorist organizations. One page, dedicated to Faisal Shahzad, who’s now serving a life sentence for trying to detonate a car bomb in Times Square, has been “liked” by 30 people. Another page for Omar Hammami-aka Abu Mansoor al-Amriki-a Daphne, Ala., native now serving as an operational commander for al-Shabaab in Somalia, has been “liked” by 26 people. Anwar al-Awlaki, a leader and spiritual advisor to al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), has 24 supporters. Al-Awlaki has been designated by the United States government as a terrorist; Hammami has been indicted for his close personal links to the designated, al-Shabaab.

Martinez’s page includes links to numerous nasheeds-Islamic-oriented songs, often sung a capella-most of which appear to have been originally published by al Qaida’s As-Sahab Media. Commenting on one such video of jihadis engaging in acts of terrorism, Martinez writes “ALLAHUAKBAR!!!!!!” On another, he explains “Shaheed is the goal and the women of paradise is waiting. So why are we delaying o brothers? Lets meet our wives in the paradise inshallah and reap the fruits of the 1 who struggles for Allah and His deen.”…

There is much more. Read it all.

Jihad Watch

Dec 10

Palin planning overseas trip in 2011

(CNN) - Sarah Palin is planning an overseas trip at some point next year with an itinerary that could include stops in Israel and the United Kingdom, Palin sources confirmed to CNN Thursday.

But the sources insisted to CNN that details or travel dates have not been finalized.

RealClearPolitics reported last month that such a trip was in the works, and The Daily Beast reported Thursday that Palin is certain to make a foreign excursion sometime in the new year.

Any visit to England would likely include a meeting with former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, whom Palin called “one of my political heroines” in a Facebook post in June.

An overseas trip could, in theory, offer Palin a chance to fix the perception among Republican insiders that she lacks foreign policy gravitas as she considers a possible White House bid in 2012.

Palin’s foreign travel has been limited to stops in Germany and Kuwait to visit U.S. troops during her time as Alaska governor. And in 2009, Palin delivered remarks to an investment group in Hong Kong, a speech that was closed to reporters.

CNN Political Ticker

Dec 10

Report: Palin planning first extended overseas trip


It’s not just the fact of the trip itself that suggests she’s running, it’s the destinations on her proposed itinerary. If you were an aspiring Republican nominee, which foreign hotspots would you be sure to hit to further ingratiate yourself with the base? For starters: Israel, of course, not only to show solidarity but to [...]

Read this post »

Hot Air » Top Picks

Dec 10

AR Man Accused Of Planning Pepsi Can Bomb Was A Big Liberal, Friends Say

Friends of Mark Krause, the Arkansas man the feds say planted an IED made out of a Pepsi can at a polling place during the Democratic Senate primary in Arkansas this summer, are rallying to the 40-year-old blacksmith’s defense.

“Mark’s a complete liberal. He’s not a Tea Party-type at all,” long time friend Eugene Sergeant told TPM. “I think he almost always voted Democrat. He thought Republicans were just rich fucking assholes. But socially he was a liberal and he was definitely an odd mix - a freedom loving artist liberal who had a taste for tinkering with machines. And of course he likes to blow things up.”

“Mark Krause is not only liberal, but also a respected artist, metalworker, and machinist in Fayetteville,” friend Jacey Dalton wrote TPM in an e-mail. “I too assume that the person who did (tragically) place a bomb at a Democratic polling location in a rural Arkansas town (double-digit population) would be (is) a very disturbed or paranoid sociopath with right-wing affiliations. Mark does NOT fit this profile.”

“His political affiliation is very LIBERAL,” Dalton additionally wrote. “There is no evidence placing him in Osage. He is not a sad, disturbed, or hateful person. He is very kind and peaceful. The very nature of his work demonstrates that metal supplies and sketch journals of machinery or switches would be in fact a job requirement rather than possessions of a terrorist.”

“He is a talented artist and a valued member of our community here in Northwest Arkansas,” wrote Sarah K. Moore, another friend of Krause’s. “Arkansas (and many other places, both north and south, I might add) is full of closed-minded, ignorant individuals, but Mark Krause is not one of them.”

“I would find it amusing that anyone could remotely link Mark to anything other than far left! Wow, Tea Party? I can say with some certainty that he loathes that line of thinking… or lack thereof!” said Anna Thomas, yet another friend. “I suppose I can see how someone who doesn’t know him could be led off in that direction, but a few minutes with the guy, and one learns he is a gentle soul….”

“I have known Mark for many years. He is a caring, thoughtful, compassionate, and considerate individual,” said friend Jessica Liles O’Baugh. “He is an amazingly brilliant artist that I consider myself extremely lucky to know. He is not capable of doing what the FBI is accusing him of.”

“I cannot get into specifics of the case due to laws concerning confidentiality. I will not speculate on alternative theories/explanations for fear of compromising Mark’s case. My goal is to help my friend, not hurt his case,” O’Baugh said.

“As far as whether or not he is a liberal- Mark calls himself a liberal. It is under his “political views” section of his facebook page. Every media outlet has already exploited the ‘gun totin’ liberal’ quote from his page. But I, myself, have never had a conversation with Mark concerning politics,” O’Baugh added.

As we told you this week, Krause stands accused of planting a bomb made out of a Pepsi can in front of a church gymnasium that served as a polling location on the day of the Democratic Senate primary runoff. According to an FBI affidavit a poll worker found a 12-ounce can of Pepsi soda sitting by the gym door, which she reportedly placed on the desk of the church secretary. It wasn’t until the following day that someone saw the wires coming out the bottom and called authorities.

Last month, contractors cleaning out a house that used to be owned by Krause discovered troubling materials and contracted authorities, who arrested Krause last week in Washington state. He’s being held without bail, and the Associated Press reported last night he would be returned to Arkansas by the U.S. Marshals Service.


Nov 10

Judicial Activism and Central Planning

The Ninth Circuit Court recently set forth a ruling on an interesting case involving arbitration clauses in contracts. A couple received two complimentary cell phones from AT&T as part of a bundled-service contract but were charged $ 30.22 in sales tax required by California law.  As part of their contract, the couple agreed to arbitration.  As part of the arbitration clause AT&T agrees to pay $ 7500 plus fees if an arbitration award exceeds the amount last offered by AT&T before the settlement.  The couple claimed they were misled and filed a class-action law suit, despite their having signed the contract agreeing to arbitration.

The ruling by the Ninth Circuit, in Laster v AT&T Mobility LLC, called the contract unconscionable and refused to enforce the clause requiring arbitration.  The Court felt that such a clause, by disallowing class action, would result in little enforcement of contracts.  Because the amount involved is small, the individual customer would probably not find it worth the opportunity cost of their time to go to arbitration, and thus AT&T could default on lots of small contracts for minimal amounts and not fear an arbitration settlement.

There are a number of reasons why this ruling should be overturned.  First, it flies in the face of the Federal Arbitration Act of 1925, which was passed to provide certainty to contracts that have arbitration clauses.  The Act requires federal courts to enforce arbitration agreements unless they violate standard contract law doctrine, such as fraud, duress, or are unconscionable.  For a contract to be unconscionable, in this particular case, it must be seen as a scheme of the party in a stronger bargaining position to cheat large numbers of consumers.  The standard arbitration contract doesn’t meet any of these standards.

The contract with AT&T is clear.

The consumer agrees to go to arbitration when signing the contract.  The consumer clearly is in as strong a bargaining a position as AT&T.  AT&T cannot force the consumer to agree to the contract.  Any consumer who does not want to submit to arbitration is free to choose another carrier or to not have a cell phone at all.  I, along with many of my friends, managed to spend one half of a century without a cell phone.

More importantly, invalidating contracts with arbitration agreements, even those that satisfy the conditions under Laster, creates uncertainty in contract law.  It will raise the price of cell phones and numerous other goods and services that meet the same conditions, since the potential cost of class action litigation must be figured into the costs of producing the goods or services.  The increased prices across numerous goods and services (which ones cannot be reasonably be known) will be borne by all consumers, whereas the benefits of not having arbitration, if they exist at all, will be limited to those who involve themselves in a successful class action, most likely no one other than trial lawyers.

If the argument is that these arbitration agreements are unconscionable because each consumer will find it not useful to go to arbitration, then the gain to each consumer that has a proper complaint will be de minimus even if a class action suit is brought.  The ruling thus sets up a situation where the vast majority of consumers will face higher prices so that consumers who may freely choose not to buy a product will have the potential of a small gain should a producer defraud them.

Aside from this being an economically unsound ruling, it also allows a paternalistic government to decide that consumers may not enter into contracts that they willingly would enter into. Arbitration is a less expensive way to settle disputes than litigation and the vast majority of consumes might rather have an arbitration clause in a contract.  If they didn’t, then companies that offered goods or services without arbitration contracts would be able to gain market share.

The 9th Circuit seems to be of the opinion that producers have arbitrary power and may force consumers to purchase services and sign agreements that the consumer would rather not sign.  The reality is that in a market economy there is voluntary exchange.  Producers must please consumers or the consumers will not buy the product.  Producers must develop product warrantees, guarantees, and contracts that meet consumers’ needs or their competitors will do so.  The 9th Circuit Court has no way of knowing what type of contract is preferred by all customers, and is merely substituting its opinion for what contracts should look like for what the market process of free exchange among producers and consumers has produced.

Big Government

Nov 10

Reichstag dome closed after reports that jihadists were planning Mumbai-style jihad attack

Another plot to murder thousands to please Allah leads to more restrictions on the activities of non-Muslim Westerners. “Reichstag dome closed amid terrorism fears,” from The Local, November 22 (thanks to Fjordman):

Police have closed the dome and roof terrace of Berlin’s Reichstag in a dramatic security clampdown following reports that Islamists were planning a Mumbai-style attack on the building.

The press office for the German parliament or Bundestag announced Monday morning the dome and roof, popular tourist attractions that offer panoramic views of the capital, would be closed indefinitely.

The announcement followed a weekend report in news magazine Der Spiegel that said Islamic extremists were planning an armed raid on the 116-year-old building, which houses the parliament, in the style of the 2008 Mumbai attack, in which at least 175 people were killed….

Germany has nearly 5,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan and this is seen as a key source of Islamist anger against the country.

What will the learned analysts say when German troops leave Afghanistan and Islamic supremacists continue to plan jihad plots against Germany? They’ll find another pretext for “Islamist anger against the country,” and continue to ignore or deny the jihad imperative that is embedded within the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Jihad Watch

Nov 10

FCC Chairman Planning an Internet Power Grab Next Month

Author’s Note: BIG TIME UPDATE follows below.  Things are indeed looking bad for freedom.

We have heard a great deal since the November 2nd Democrat electoral thumping about the (deserved) demise of the ridiculous notion that is Network Neutrality (NN).

After all, 95 Democrats pledged their election-eve support for it - and ALL 95 of them went down to defeat.  And the group with whom they pledged their NN fealty – the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) – raised a pathetic amount of money on the issue – either less than $ 300 or less than $ 100, depending upon which page of their website you believe.

And then Europe – to whom the pro-Net Neutrality forces turn for direction on nearly all things – announced they would not be imposing NN.

These were just the latest in a LOOONG line of Net Neutrality losses of support and supporters.  The remaining pro-NN gaggle could convene in a phone booth (if they could find one).

So there have been of late proclamations aplenty of the expiration of Network Neutrality.

I have not been one of the exuberants.  As I said while speaking out of doors on video on the subject, the November 2nd election was - for ridding ourselves once and for all of Net Neutrality - the best of times.  And perhaps the worst of times.

The Republican takeover of the House of Representatives made debilitating Net Neutrality legislation – of the sort Free Press and the Media Marxists have long desired – far, far less likely.  That’s the good.

Then there’s the bad.  Though Congress is supposed to be the place where these things happen, the pro-NN gaggle long ago gave up on the legislative route – because they couldn’t get it done in Congress.

So way back in 2006 they instead chose to focus their efforts on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), to get Net Neutrality implemented via executive branch regulatory fiat - having made the cold calculation that it would be easier to get three votes from unelected FCC bureaucrats than it would be to get them from 269 of the People’s representatives.

And November 2nd made this long-pursued FCC Internet power grab – the reclassification of broadband - perhaps MORE likely, not less.

If FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski decides he wants to remake the Internet in the warped and diminished image envisioned by Free Press and the pro-NN gaggle – and he has an on-again and off-again flirtation with the concept - he may very well look at the newly-minted Republican House and decide that NOW’S the time for the FCC to make the Internet power grab move.

Chairman Genachowski’s next – and maybe last – opportunity to do this is the December 15th FCC monthly meeting.  It’s the last such gathering before the new Republican House majority is sworn in.  There are four (and perhaps five) possible incoming Republican House Energy & Commerce Chairman – and all of them are opposed to FCC Internet reclassification.

Why the additional heightened concern?  Because when speaking yesterday with The Hill’s Sara Jerome, Chairman Genachowski‘s Net Neutrality flirtation was REALLY on-again – he was in fact openly asserting his intent to seize control of the Internet.

Genachowski went further than he normally does in discussing net neutrality, which has become a lightning rod for controversy at his agency. He confirmed that the contentious rules are still on the way.

“That’ll happen,” Genachowski said of creating net-neutrality rules, which would constrain how phone and cable companies manage Internet traffic on their networks.

Genachowski also touted net-neutrality regulations as one of the most important policies the country can adopt to improve its broadband deployment efforts, which he described as lagging behind other countries.

“One of the basic things we can solve [to] maintain the openness of the pipes is open Internet,” he said, referring to the net-neutrality proceeding.

That’s not a flirtation, that’s a down-on-one-knee proposal.  And Free Press and the pro-NN gaggle have already said Yes.

We await the December 15th FCC meeting agenda.  They are required by statute to announce it 21 days in advance, which means we will know by no later than November 24th.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

UPDATE: Politico released a piece Thursday afternoon – a little after I finished this – confirming much of what I have been speculating.  Below are some choice excerpts.

Unfortunately, it appears my aforementioned out of doors video and this essay were fairly prescient.  And that means it looks bad, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Sources: FCC chief working on net neutrality proposal

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski is putting together a net neutrality proposal and plans to take action on the controversial issue as early as next month, according to several sources with knowledge of the situation….

The chairman’s proposal may go so far as to prohibit wireless companies from blocking any application, service or device. That would be a big win for public interest groups, who have been pushing for strong net neutrality rules on wireless networks as well as traditional Internet networks….

The timing of Genachowski’s plan is also unclear, although it appears his office is trying to release an outline of the proposal by next Wednesday, which is the deadline to circulate an order to the FCC’s other four commissioners before putting it on the agenda for the agency’s Dec. 15 meeting.

There are also political reasons for releasing a proposal early next week. Lawmakers will already be gone for the Thanksgiving holiday, giving the FCC a small window to release a controversial order without immediate harsh reactions from Capitol Hill Republicans….

While any net neutrality proposal will cause waves in the telecom world, sources say December is an ideal time for Genachowski to act on the issue because Republicans will not yet have officially assumed control of the House.

Big Government

Nov 10

Palin’s Planning

Mike Allen gets an advance look at a forthcoming New York Times Magazine cover story on Sarah Palin in which she admits she’s engaged in “internal deliberations” about making a White House bid in 2012.

Palin says there aren’t meaningful policy differences among the field of GOP hopefuls “but that in fact there’s more to the presidency than that.”

Said Palin: “I’d have to bring in more people — more people who are trustworthy… I know that a hurdle I would have to cross, that some other potential candidates wouldn’t have to cross right out of the chute, is proving my record. That’s the most frustrating thing for me — the warped and perverted description of my record and what I’ve accomplished over the last two decades. It’s been much more perplexing to me than where the lamestream media has wanted to go about my personal life. And other candidates haven’t faced these criticisms the way I have… I’m on television nearly every single day with reporters… Now granted, that’s mainly through my job at Fox News, and I’m very proud to be associated with them, but I’m not avoiding anything or anybody. I’m on Facebook and Twitter. I’m out there. I want to talk about my record, though.”
Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire

Nov 10

Planning for the Worst

I agree with Steve Benen that it would only make sense for the White House to make sure to be “planning for the worst” when it comes to dealing with Republicans on the Hill. But the specific thing I would worry about isn’t gutting of health care legislation or endless investigations. It’s the economy. Anne Kornblut reports that the White House understands the basic political dynamic: “Even more important, senior administration officials said, Obama will need to oversee tangible improvements in the economy.”

So I know that tangible improvements in the economy are key to Obama’s re-election chances. And Douglas Hibbs knows that it’s key. And senior administration officials know that its key. So is it so unreasonable to think that Mitch McConnell and John Boehner may also know that it’s key? That rank and file Republicans know that it’s key? McConnell has clarified that his key goal in the Senate is to cause Barack Obama to lose in 2012 which if McConnell understands the situation correctly means doing everything in his power to reduce economic growth. Boehner has distanced himself from this theory, but many members of his caucus may agree with McConnell.

Which is just to say that specifically the White House needs to be prepared not just for rough political tactics from the opposition (what else is new?) but for a true worst case scenario of deliberate economic sabotage.


Nov 10

Coastal studies experts: “For coastal management purposes, a [sea level] rise of 7 feet (2 meters) should be utilized for planning major infrastructure” - Front-page NY Times piece on sea level rise gets it mostly right

The New York Times has a splashy front-page story on some of the latest research on sea level rise today.  The graphics above make clear the paper gets a big part of the story right — the latest science says we are facing 3 to 6 feet of sea level rise this century.

Kudos to the NYT for featuring such an important story.  Given that serious federal climate action is unlikely for years if not a decade or more, it is more incumbent on the media than ever to explain to the public what’s coming.

The story has its flaws, though.  For some reason the media — and many scientists — seem constitutionally incapable of explaining that inaction makes things much worse, that inaction greatly increases the chances of the worst impacts.  The NYT has usefully cited the work of Rahmstorf, but somewhat simplified and hence sanitized his graph:


Our current do-nothing or do-little path currently matches the A1F1 scenario (see “U.S. media largely ignores latest warning from climate scientists: “Recent observations confirm … the worst-case IPCC scenario trajectories (or even worse) are being realised” — 1000 ppm“), where the midpoint SLR projection is nearly 5 feet.  That’s no surprise since the unrestricted emissions scenario can leads to a staggering warming where the ice is located (see M.I.T. doubles its 2095 warming projection to 10°F — with 866 ppm and Arctic warming of 20°F).

So it is a tad frustrating that the NYT buries this crucial point in the final two paragraphs of this long article:

Climate scientists note that while the science of studying ice may be progressing slowly, the world’s emissions of heat-trapping gases are not. They worry that the way things are going, extensive melting of land ice may become inevitable before political leaders find a way to limit the gases, and before scientists even realize such a point of no return has been passed.

“The past clearly shows that sea-level rise is getting faster and faster the warmer it gets,” Dr. Rahmstorf said. “Why should that process stop? If it gets warmer, ice will melt faster.”

The key point is that we are woefully prepared for what is likely to come:

“I think we need immediately to begin thinking about our coastal cities — how are we going to protect them?” said John A. Church, an Australian scientist who is a leading expert on sea level. “We can’t afford to protect everything. We will have to abandon some areas.”

Duh.  Triage.  It’s coming.

This NYT article give the answer to the question I posed Friday - AGU Climate Q&A Service won’t answer this Q: “Is current U.S. infrastructure adequate for sea level rise?” Is that prudent — or lame?

Key West and Galveston and probably New Orleans appear unsavable on our current emissions path, but what about Miami and Houston?  I’ll do a post on that subject later.

What should people plan for?  Obviously, it makes no sense to plan for the best case.  Most people are highly risk averse and spend a considerable amount of money planning for worst-case scenarios — that’s why they buy fire insurance and catastrophic health insurance.  Military and epidemiological planners routinely focus vast amounts of time and money around the worst-case scenarios.

Even if seas only rise, say 4 feet by 2100, then sea levels are likely to be rising 6 inches a decade or more at that point, probably for centuries, so again it makes little sense to plan for, say 2 to 3 feet of SLR, particularly when making big investments like, say, a new sewage treatment plant (or a major upgrade to an old one), which is going to last a very long time and not going to be easy to move.

As an aside, a 2009 study in Geophysical Research Letters found that “If Greenland’s ice melts at moderate to high rates, ocean circulation by 2100 may shift and cause sea levels off the northeast coast of North America to rise by about 12 to 20 inches (about 30 to 50 centimeters) more than in other coastal areas” (see here).

The NYT article notes:

One of the deans of American coastal studies, Orrin H. Pilkey of Duke University, is advising coastal communities to plan for a rise of at least five feet by 2100.

Since the NYT didn’t include a direct link to that claim or a direct quote, I went looking on Google, which turned up this op-ed piece from last November by Pilkey, “Rising sea levels: a strategy for N.C.“:

DURHAM — Western Carolina University’s Rob Young and I have argued that seas will rise at least 3 feet in this century and that, for coastal management purposes, a rise of 7 feet (2 meters) should be utilized for planning major infrastructure.

I have emailed Pilkey to find out the source of that discrepancy, but for now, I’m going with this as the headline quote.

I have three more issues with the article.  First, while the gratuitous quotes from the anti-science disinformers were kept to a minimum, the NYT should at least try to quote disinformers with relevant expertise:

Global warming skeptics, on the other hand, contend that any changes occurring in the ice sheets are probably due to natural climate variability, not to greenhouse gases released by humans….

John R. Christy, a climatologist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville who is often critical of mainstream climate science, said he suspected that the changes in Greenland were linked to this natural variability, and added that he doubted that the pace would accelerate as much as his colleagues feared.

For high predictions of sea-level rise to be correct, “some big chunks of the Greenland ice sheet are going to have to melt, and they’re just not melting that way right now,” Dr. Christy said.

As the link the NYT provides makes clear, Christy has no publications in this area.  His ‘expertise’  is in temperature trends and satellite measurements, but even there, how many times one has to be wrong before the media stops quoting you? (see “Should you believe anything John Christy and Roy Spencer say?“).

Second, the NYT asserts:

Certain measurements are so spotty for Antarctica that scientists have not been able to figure out whether the continent is losing or gaining ice.

In fact, while all such measurements have uncertainty, the literature is pretty clear that Antarctica has been losing mass in the past decade — at an accelerating rate, as Skeptical Science explains:

Figure 2 shows the ice mass changes in Antarctica for the period April 2002 to February 2009 (Velicogna 2009) . The blue line/crosses show the unfiltered, monthly values. The red crosses have seasonal variability removed. The green line is the best fitting trend.
Figure 2: Ice mass changes for the Antarctic ice sheet from April 2002 to February 2009. Unfiltered data are blue crosses. Data filtered for the seasonal dependence are red crosses. The best-fitting quadratic trend is shown as the green line (Velicogna 2009).

With the longer time series, a statistically significant trend now emerges. Not only is Antarctica losing land ice, the ice loss is accelerating at a rate of 26 Gigatonnes/yr2 (in other words, every year, the rate of ice loss is increasing by 26 Gigatonnes per year) It turns out that since 2006, East Antarctica has no longer been in mass balance but is in fact, losing ice mass (Chen 2009). This is a surprising result as East Antarctica has been considered stable because the region is so cold. This indicates the East Antarctic ice sheet is more dynamic than previously thought.

This is significant because East Antarctica contains much more ice than West Antarctica. East Antarctica contains enough ice to raise global sea levels by 50 to 60 metres while West Antarctica would contribute around 6 to 7 metres. The Antarctic ice sheet plays an important role in the total contribution to sea level. That contribution is continuously and rapidly growing.

I wrote about the Chen paper here (see Satellite data stunner: “Our data suggest that EAST Antarctica is losing mass…. Antarctica may soon be contributing significantly more to global sea-level rise”).  The study begins, “Accurate quantification of Antarctic ice-sheet mass balance and its contribution to global sea-level rise remains challenging, because in situ measurements over both space and time are sparse,” and it concludes:

Our results suggest that over the WAIS [West Antarctic ice sheet] (especially the ASE [Amundsen Sea Embayment]) there is accelerated ice loss since around 2005 and/or 2006, with the EAIS showing correlated changes of the same sign in this period, attributed to increased ice loss over EAIS coastal regions in recent years. Using a simple linear projection for the period 2006–2009, Antarctic ice loss rate can be as large as -220plusminus89 Gt yr-1. These new GRACE estimates, on average, are consistent with recent InSAR fluxes but, in contrast to previous estimates, they indicate that as a whole, Antarctica may soon be contributing significantly more to global sea-level rise.

Yes, a recent paper has questioned the full magnitude of some of the GRACE ice losses, but many leading experts have in turn questioned that work.  I suppose I will have to do a post on that.

Notwithstanding the NYT, the best science says that Antarctica is losing ice, and the ice loss is accelerating.

Third, one of the most puzzling statements in the entire piece is this:

The information problems are even more severe in Antarctica. Much of that continent is colder than Greenland, and its ice sheet is believed to be more stable, over all. But in recent years, parts of the ice sheet have started to flow rapidly, raising the possibility that it will destabilize in the same way that much of the world’s other ice has.

Notwithstanding the phrase “over all,” the WAIS has long been known it to be unstable, as the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Initiative explains at length here. As I wrote in the “high water” part of my book:

Perhaps the most important, and worrisome, fact about the WAIS is that it is fundamentally far less stable than the Greenland ice sheet because most of it is grounded far below sea level. The WAIS rests on bedrock as deep as two kilometers underwater. One 2004 NASA-led study found that most of the glaciers they were studying “flow into floating ice shelves over bedrock up to hundreds of meters deeper than previous estimates, providing exit routes for ice from further inland if ice-sheet collapse is under way.” A 2002 study in Science examined the underwater grounding lines–the points where the ice starts floating. Using satellites, the researchers determined that “bottom melt rates experienced by large outlet glaciers near their grounding lines are far higher than generally assumed.” And that melt rate is positively correlated with ocean temperature.

The warmer it gets, the more unstable WAIS outlet glaciers will become. Since so much of the ice sheet is grounded underwater, rising sea levels may have the effect of lifting the sheets, allowing more-and increasingly warmer-water underneath it, leading to further bottom melting, more ice shelf disintegration, accelerated glacial flow, and further sea level rise, and so on and on, another vicious cycle. The combination of global warming and accelerating sea level rise from Greenland could be the trigger for catastrophic collapse in the WAIS.

And the WAIS Initiative notes:

A final, disturbing extension of West Antarctic collapse is that a substantial portion of the much-larger East Antarctic ice sheet would likely drain through the gap in the Transantarctic Mountains now occupied by the West Antarctic ice sheet. This would only increase the eventual magnitude of the change in sea level, further exacerbating the calamity.

So we have a cascading effect from Greenland to WAIS to EAIS.

For the record, a 2009 study in Science found that sea level rise from a collapse of the WAIS would likely be 25% higher for North America than previously estimated:

The catastrophic increase in sea level, already projected to average between 16 and 17 feet around the world, would be almost 21 feet in such places as Washington, D.C., scientists say, putting it largely underwater. Many coastal areas would be devastated. Much of Southern Florida would disappear.

And the WAIS is already in danger now:

So, yes, we can all hope that humanity somehow quickly becomes smart enough to stay at or below 450 ppm, and then returns to 350 ppm as quickly as possible, keeping overall sea level rise to below 3 feet this century.  But prudent planners should plan on 5 to 7 feet of SLR over the next 100 years.

Climate Progress

Nov 10

Planning Ahead is Good But Unlikely

There’s a lot going on in Derek Thompson’s post on liberal reaction to the Simpson-Bowles report some of which I agree with and some of which I disagree with. But I wanted to clarify on the specific part where he talks about me. Namely, when I say that pre-emptive fiscal adjustment is unlikely I meant precisely that: It’s unlikely, not undesirable.

As Tim Fernholz wrote yesterday:

It’s worth noting that the dynamics here continue to favor conservatives; simply put, the longer we delay making sustainable budgeting decisions, the harder it becomes to make them, increasing the likelihood that we will one day face calamity, and austerity. “The concern from the progressive perspective is that if we wait until we have a gun to our head … at that point we’re unlikely to get progressive solutions,” CAP’s Michael Ettlinger told me last year when I wrote about progressive efforts to get ahead of the deficit debate. It makes getting these issues right today even more of a priority.

No surprise, I agree with Ettlinger.

But as I say, I don’t think it’s realistic. The current level of hubub around the idea of doing preemptive fiscal adjustment largely reflects the fact that Pete Peterson has spent a lot of money pushing the idea of preemptive fiscal adjustment to the top of the public agenda (see Dave Weigel on this topic). Pete Peterson is both a wealthy man and a generous one, and wealthy generous people have an enormous ability to shape the agenda in Washington DC. But agenda-shaping and legislation-passing are two separate things. Peterson can’t repeal the rules of politics. Given the number of veto points in the American political system, large change is always unlikely. Given a problem on which it’s viable to delay action, politicians will prefer to delay. It is possible to delay action on fiscal adjustment. And a complete fiscal adjustment would involve multiple large changes. Ergo, it’s unlikely to happen.

This is two bad for two reasons. First, it’s bad for the reasons Ettlinger points two. Second, I think it’s genuinely a waste of the money of a public-spirited person. In addition to the deficit work, Peterson money supports Joseph Gagnon’s work on monetary policy. Had Peterson devoted the scale of resources to putting monetary issues on the agenda that he’s devoted to putting pre-emptive fiscal adjustment on the agenda, I think we would have seen much more progress toward good monetary policy and essentially the same fiscal policy outcome. That would be a higher-growth world, with less unemployment and—among other things—a smaller budget deficit.


Nov 10

House GOP transition team busy planning for new Congress

(CNN) - In a sign that big changes are coming soon in the House of Representatives, there’s literally a new sign in the Capitol basement that reads “Office of GOP Transition.”

In smaller type is the name of Oregon Republican Greg Walden, who was tapped by Minority Leader John Boehner the day after the election to head up the transition.

Boehner and Walden aren’t wasting any time planning a Republican-led House of Representatives. Walden is busy recruiting members for a 22-person panel that will meet for the first time on Monday night. He wouldn’t release the names but emphasized that the group would be “a nice cross section of our Republican conference and conference-to-be. You’ll see a number of incoming members, you’ll see people who are senior and people who aren’t.”

Meeting with reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday in the small office, Walden said the new transition office was set up with desks, computers and phones by 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, just hours after the midterm elections swept out more than 60 House Democrats and turned over control of the House to the GOP.

With few people on the staff so far, his wife has volunteered to answer phones.

The transition chief was quick to point out that the current House Democratic leaders and their senior staff helped set up the office and moved immediately to make the make the transition smooth. “They have been most helpful and most accommodating.”

The Oregon Republican said he is focused on two fronts: taking a look at changes to the Republican conference rules - procedures Republicans would have to abide by, such as how to deal with earmarks - and reviewing the broader rules that govern the House of Representatives. At the start of each new Congress the House votes on a package of rules, and Republicans have already said they plan on series of changes including giving members 72 hours to read bills before they vote on them.

“Our primary goal will be to follow the pledge,” Walden said, as he sat in the office below a blown up poster of the cover of the GOP “Pledge to America,” a governing agenda that was unveiled in September.

He held off giving much detail on specific changes, saying he’s awaiting the work of the new panel. “Our focus right now is what do we do to get this House up and running in a more efficient way in a less costly way that can allow us to get right to work focusing on jobs and the economy and cutting spending.”

Walden said he didn’t see any major changes to the House ethics rules, which Pelosi and the Democrats changed when they took over the House in 2006. “I don’t see that as a lead issue for us at this time.”

But one thing Republicans think needs some revision is the work schedule in the House. Walden complained that short two or three day work weeks under Democratic rule crammed too many floor votes, committee hearings and constituent meetings into long days and made it impossible for members to juggle their responsibilities effectively.

Walden said the public will also have a chance to weigh in on how the House should be run, noting Boehner has already set up a website to solicit input at He also said he’s was also planning to put out a old school “suggestion box” for people who want to anonymously weigh in with ideas and are reluctant to do it online.

In addition to guidance from the new transition panel, Walden said he planned to talk to Republicans who were on the Hill during the 1994 transition when the GOP took control from Democrats after 40 years and to Mike Capuano, who handled the transition for the Democrats in 2006, to ask what lessons they learned. “What did you do that you wouldn’t do again? Where did you overstep, where did you make mistakes? What worked, so what are the pitfalls, what should we watch out for to get it right?”

But he also said Republican changes to House rules would help minority Democrats, giving them input on legislation. Walden pointed to Boehner’s tenure as chairman of the Education Committee and his promise to make Congress more transparent. “He intends to open up this House and have open rules.”

The transition team won’t have much time to do its work. Walden said they plan to deliver their recommendations to the Republican conference by the time the House meets to start organizing for the next Congress later this month.

CNN Political Ticker