A study of climatological research as it pertains to intelligence problems

a-study-of-climatological-research I first saw this a while back: maybe 2 years ago, but CR reminded me of it recently. As far as I can tell it is genuine; the CIA offer to sell you it, though if you try to buy you get a 404. Why you'd buy it when others have it for free I don't know. I don't seem to have blogged it then; others did but just to push their own tedious ends (yes, its global cooling come again, don't all switch off at once).

There are a couple of things to look at in a report like this. The most interesting is, presumably, what did the CIA think about climate change then. Slightly less interesting, but revealing, is to ask "did the author have a clue?" The answer is no, as the following snippet reveals all by itself:


So: the author didn't have a clue, and neither did any of the reviewers; or worse, the CIA couldn't find any competent reviewers to read it (or perhaps it was Tip-Top Sekret back then, and they couldn't let anyone competent see it; if so, an example of the problems with sekrecy). Anyway, the point is, its wrong. If you're wondering why, the answer is that the major effect is latitude, or as wikipedia rather gawkily puts it, [[Effect of sun angle on climate]]. Clouds and albedo also matter, but don't explain why it is hotter at the equator than the poles. Sun angle does. There is more that I can't be bothered to go through; all in all it reads just a bit garbled.

So let's move onto phase two, which is to work out what the CIA was thinking. The summary is quite explicit, saying:


Not much room for doubt there; and there is more of the same (note, incidentally, that the disaster was going to be in terms of food supply; that appears to have been their major concern). But then again, not much in the way of references. We'll have to hope for more later on in the details bit. Lower down, we start to get some hints of what they have found:


So, this is fair enough: broadly, historical analogues; modelling; theoreticals. But as a summary of the science it is rubbish; just a year later, NAS did much better. More of the report ties itself into knots trying to oppose the "Lamb-ians" against the "Smagorinski-ans" and the "Budyko-ians" and whatever; well, the CIA was in the middle of the cold war and its job was to foster conflict.

A bit later, we start to come to what meat there is:


There are no inline refs, but there is a bibliography, and it is fairly clear that Bryson's sticky fingers are all over this:


There are quite a few pages of this stuff, and I think this is where they have got their summary and conclusions from. That those are inaccurate as an assessment of the then-current opinion (as shown by the section on the San Diego conference) doesn't seem to trouble them.

Conclusion: this report says more about the CIA, and the dangers of a report being hijacked by a small group of people when not put out for proper review, than it does about the state of climatology at the time.

More like this

The sun angle might also be considered important for heterogeneous temperatures between day and night. =)

Thank you for this post and the nice contrast with the NAS report. Far better to be able to reference an expert opinion and show contrast to a better contemporaneous report than for me to just assert CIA report is not a very good summary of the science at the time.

[And thanks for reminding me of it. I had a residual unease that I'd never fully read it before -W]

Ah am I banned now? What didn't you like about that comment?

[You'll need to be extra careful to stay on topic and have something valuable to say. Experience suggests that for you, that is effectively a ban -W]

By TheGoodLocust (not verified) on 17 Jul 2011 #permalink

How was that off-topic? I was merely reminding you that I was the one who put you onto that pdf a while back. Additionally, I also pointed out another example of how environmentalists decades ago got it dreadfully wrong - a local example (for me) at that.

Finally, I told you how your own words in this article could easily be applied to the current global warming state-of-affairs when someone in the future looks back at us.

[Yep - you just don't get it. Probably you'd be happier commenting elswhere -W]

By TheGoodLocust (not verified) on 17 Jul 2011 #permalink

I know this is an old post but I cam across it while researching one of Steven Goddard's conspiracy theories;


The link he provides goes to a dead end but I suspect this was at the time of 'global cooling' mania. Goddard's post struck me as suspicious when he said "Thanks to the work of skeptics, two key government documents have been dug up" and the first was the 1990 IPCC report which isn't exactly had to 'dig up' and contains the infamous graph showing the MWP that is trotted out every time Mann's 'Hockey Stick' appears to claim that the MEP is now being hidden.

Anyway, I was wondering if you had any comment of the whole Arctic Fraud thing. The graph used by Goddard from the IPCC report appears on page 224 if that helps.

[Well, since its from SG, you know its drivel. The game is only to find out exactly how. As it turns out Bob Grumbine has the answer. Looking, I see that Kevin O'Neill has posted that link as the last comment at SG's - that seems to have stopped the thread dead as even the bozos there are capable of reaslising -W]

Thanks for that. Kevin has been a guest poster on my own blog so I don't know how I missed it other than I have found most of the comments on Goddard's blog aren't worth the read.