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The Central Intelligence Agency
Directorate of Intelligence
Office of Political Research OPR-401 (1974)

The Spring 2009 Science Council meeting in La Jolla, California was especially meaningful to me. The California Current Ecosystem (CCE) gang dazzled us with field-tripped wizardry on the Scripps Pier.

The concept of ocean acidification by an enriched atmospheric CO2 bothered me for nearly 3 weeks. Somewhere in my neuron archives was to be found a comment on the same!

Well, I found it. Thirty-seven years ago (1974), a secret CIA-sponsored research exercise on climate change and its impacts on social and political pressures was released. There it was. I found it. It was ecumenical in that both global cooling and global warming climatologists participated. Today global coolers need not apply. It is in a book. Titled The Weather Conspiracy.

While the CIA overall came down on the side of the "global coolers", cooler heads called for a new research plan (The Wisconsin Plan) which came to be known as the National Climate Plan (June 1974). NAS, NSF and NOAA became the lead agencies. Soon the 1980s happened, global warming took center stage, and the scientific infrastructure was in place and has served us since. Thank you, CIA.

If interested in the original reports, "A study of the climatological research as it pertains to intelligence problems" and "Potential implications of trends in world population food production, and climate", by the Central Intelligence Agency, Directorate of Intelligence, Office of Political Research (OPR-401) August 1974.

The 1974 CIA Climate Change Brain trust

The 1974 climate change brain trust inelegantly classified as "cool men" and "warm" men into two groups. If they were to convene this program again I would prefer to be cool! Among the brains there were Reid Bryson, Hubert Lamb, Joseph Smagorinsky, John Isaacs, Jerry Namias, David Gates, Mikhail Budyko, John Kutzbach, William Sellers, and Cesare Emiliani, and others. The Brain-trust came to the following conclusions:

Then and (now)

1. A global climate change is taking place (It is not cooling)
2. We will not soon return to normal of the recent past. (It's warming)
3. There is a high probability of increased variability. (So say the warmers too)
4. The best climate forecast is the synoptic-statistical (GCMs rule)

Planning and Reporting Sequence

The Wisconsin Plan (Academic) then
NSF, NOAA, and NAS (the federal interest)
National Climate Research Plan
NOAA s: Center for Climatic and Environmental Assessment (the federal interests)
Center for Climatic Research
USGCP (U.S. Global Climate Change Research Program

The CIA was the fly on the wall that learned:

1. The climate was (had) changed and will continue to change
2. Climate change had already caused world-wide economic problems

This was the fly-on-the-wall's take in 1974. The world was cooling rapidly. Climate change driven worldwide economic issues had emerging. By 1982, the flip-flop was in place. NASA joined, the cooling-earth research consortia took a back-seat, and the warmers took center stage and estimated that we would actually see the warming in the temperature data by the end of the decade. Two decades now have come and gone and left the warm men in the driver's seat.

August 1974

Here is a shocker from the reports!!!


Calcifiers at risk in a more acidic ocean include coccolithophores, corals, formanifera, echinoderms, crustaceans and mollusks would be at risk in a more acidic ocean. Their aragonite and calcite might begin to dissolve and the CIA's warning come true.

"There is, too, the possibility that the oceans might not be able to cope with the increased gas (CO2). If that happened, oysters, clams, and other shellfish would die out. Coral reefs would crumble into nothing, and the ecosystems of many Pacific Island and the Australian barrier reefs would be destroyed." CIA's Impact Team (1977) p73

Integrated studies on Ocean Acidification at the CCE LTER

The California Current Ecosystem (CCE) Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) site is management, and an education, outreach, and capacity-building program. A current focus of the process cruise component of the CCE-LTER site is the role of mesoscale and sub-mesoscale fronts and eddies in altering nutrient fluxes, predator-prey interactions, and biogeochemistry, and the relationship of such features to larger scale climate variability.

An aspect of the changes in the California Current System whose consequences are largely unknown is the effects of changing ocean chemistry on organisms in the water column. These processes include altered ocean acidity, hypoxia, and trace metal availability. Research pertaining to ocean acidification in the CCE-LTER site includes:

  1. Two interdisciplinary moorings in collaboration with colleagues at PMEL and the Southwest Fisheries Science Center. These moorings (CCE-1 in the offshore, low salinity core of the California Current, and CCE-2 in the coastal upwelling region off Pt. Conception) include measurements of pCO2, pH, dissolved O2, meteorological variables, 7-wavelength irradiance, phytoplankton fluorescence, nitrate+nitrite, acoustic backscatter due to macrozooplankton and fish, Doppler currents, and CTD's. Partner moorings include HARP measurements of marine mammal vocalizations.
  2. Spray ocean gliders along CalCOFI lines 80 and 90. The line 80 glider intersects the CCE-1 and CCE-2 mooring sites, and includes dissolved oxygen and temperature, from which aragonite saturation state is estimated, zooplankton acoustic backscatter, Doppler currents, phytoplankton fluorescence, and CTD.
  3. Quarterly shipboard measurements of pH and carbon system variables from CalCOFI, accompanied by extensive hydrographic, plankton, fish egg, and multi-frequency acoustic measurements.
  4. Studies of long-term variability in calcifying holozooplankton (esp. pteropods, heteropods, and planktonic foraminifera), and the relationship of their vertical distributions to calcium carbonate saturation state.
  5. Experimental studies.

Climate Change Mitigation the CIA way

  • When you by a car use the gas mileage guide.
  • Use radial tires.
  • Stick shift saves energy.
  • Consider a white car.
  • Get regular tune-ups.
  • Replace air filters.
  • Know and heed octane.
  • Tire pressure. Check it.
  • Wait till fuel tank is ¾ empty to refill.
  • Think car pools.
  • Consolidate trips.
  • Consider alternate modes of travel.
  • Minimize backing.
  • Cut idling. Etc.

Now they're heading for your house! And you thought those CIA boys wore black hats. No way. The CIA also offers a list 37-energy-saving user-friendly good old boys institutions that include:

  • UN Environment Program
  • Environmental Defense Fund
  • Sierra Club
  • The Population Institute
  • The Population Crisis Committee
  • League of Women Voters
  • NOAA
  • Overseas Development Council
  • Bread for the world
  • And more white hat guys, etc.

If you want to be a crusader, The Weather Conspiracy is for you!




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