Sunday, January 31, 2010

NASA Studies Climate Change in the Himalayas

In recent years, scientists have been reporting that the glaciers in the Himalayas are rapidly retreating due to global warming. The thawing of the glaciers is endangering the water supply of more than a billion people.

The Indian newspaper Deccan Herald (12-16-09) reports on a NASA study that found evidence that the temperature rise is caused by soot and dust as well as by greenhouse gasses:

Most of the soot goes from the thousands of wood- and dung-burning cooking stoves in use all over South Asia, says the study led by William Lau, head of atmospheric sciences at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The study, which looked at soot and dust concentrations in South Asia between 2000 and 2007 as well as air circulation patterns during that period, was made available at the Dec 7-18 climate summit [in Copenhagen].

It says much of the soot - as well as dust - travels along air currents from southern Asia to the Tibetan plateau, where it accumulates. It also accumulates along the southern slopes of the Himalayas.

With a detailed numerical model, the study reinforces what Veerabhadran Ramanathan of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California, has been saying - the soot and dust contribute as much to warming in the Himalayas as other greenhouse gases.

This is because the black soot and grey dust accumulate on the white snow and ice of the Himalayas and reduce the extent to which the surface reflects the sun's heat back into the atmosphere. Dark colours reflect less heat.

Lau points out that this warming adds to the faster melting of glaciers and threatens water supply to 1.3 billion people dependent on the rivers flowing down the Himalayas.

The NASA scientists found that the most rapid melting of ice and snow takes place at the western end of the Tibetan plateau between April and September each year, coinciding with the time soot and dust concentrations are highest in the atmosphere in northern India and Nepal.

It forms a dirty blanket that has been called the Asian Brown Cloud.

The Himalayas are often called the Third Pole because this area holds the largest store of fresh water in the world after the Antarctic and the Arctic. But the area covered by the Himalayan glaciers has declined by over 20 percent since the early 1960s.

An estimated 1.3 billion people depend on the waters flowing down the Himalayas through rivers such as the Ganga, Indus, Brahmaputra and their tributaries in South Asia, Yellow and Yangtze in China, Salween and Mekong in Southeast Asia.

Soot is formed due to incomplete burning of fossil fuels. Inefficient cooking stoves using wood and dung are the worst culprits.

India's leading glaciologist Syed Iqbal Hasnain, who has also been warning about the impact of soot on warming in the Himalayas, is now doing on-ground studies to determine how much soot and dust is accumulating on two of the glaciers in the southern slopes of the world's tallest mountain range.

Ed Lake's Prediction about the Closing of the FBI's Amerithrax (Anthrax Attack) Investigation

"If you had any illusions that junk science has been quelled by the real science of the Amerithrax investigation, I suggest you read this morning's edition of The Wall Street Journal. It contains an opinion piece by Edward J. Epstein titled "The Anthrax Attacks Remain Unsolved - The FBI disproved its main theory about how the spores were weaponized." It repeats a lot of the junk science used by conspiracy theorists, plus total inaccuracies and various other nonsense to argue that the presence of silicon in the attack spores proves that the attack spores were "weaponized" and Dr. Ivins could not be the culprit."--Ed Lake (1-25-10)

One of my favorite Internet sites is Ed Lake's blog Analyzing the Anthrax Attacks. Mr. Lake is a retired computer expert who tries to separate the facts from the conspiracy theories (scroll down) about the FBI's Amerithrax investigation.

Mr. Lake believes that the FBI's Amerithrax investigation has been solved and will soon be closed. According to the FBI (8-6-08), charges were about to be brought against anthrax researcher Dr. Bruce Ivins, but he took his own life before those charges could be filed.

Ed Lake had indications that there were "plans" to close the Amerithrax investigation by the end of January; but that has not happened, so here is his comment today in the "Thoughts and Comments" section (1-31-10):

January 31, 2010 - So, we're at "the end of January" and the Amerithrax case has not yet been officially closed. While I haven't heard anything at all from any sources, I have to assume that the official closing of the Amerithrax investigation, which I said was planned for "the end of January," was delayed by the sudden scheduling of the President's State of the Union address for Wednesday in the last week of January.

The President wouldn't want the impact of his State of the Union address to be diluted or sidetracked by some unrelated announcement from the DOJ, a department his Administrative Branch of the government. After all, the State of the Union Address isn't just a speech. It's a plan, an announcement of goals, a call to action. It's followed by meetings with members of congress, by discussions pundits on the weekend talk shows and by reviews and comments in the Sunday editions and in national magazines like Time and Newsweek, which go to press on the weekend for delivery on Monday. Closing the Amerithrax case in the middle of all that would be unthinkable. The idea is to get as many people as possible focused on helping to advance and improve The State of The Union. Discussions of other matters don't help.

I don't know if The National Geographic Channel had any inside information when they rescheduled a rerun of "Hunting the Anthrax Killer" from this the last weekend in January to next weekend, the first weekend in February, but there are certainly a lot of "vibes" indicating that could be the case.

I'm keeping my ear to the ground, with my fingers crossed while I wait for something to happen - hopefully very soon.

The Telegraph's Christopher Booker Probably Doesn't Have a Clue

Yesterday, I posted an article that expressed skepticism about the accuracy of a report about the "Climategate" scandal that appeared in the British Telegraph (1-28-10) and about the accuracy of legal opinions that the Telegraph and other media attributed to Graham Smith, Deputy Commissioner at the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).
These allegations are being widely reported in the media but do not appear on the official ICO site. In addition, my understanding is that people would not be prosecuted in this case; the University would be fined. It is strange that a Deputy Commissioner for the ICO would claim that people would be prosecuted in this case. Also, it is doubtful that the ICO can rule on something after the statute of limitations expires.
The Telegraph's newest account of the Climategate scandal, "Climategate: confusion over the law in email case" (Christopher Booker, 1-30-10), gets even stranger; but read my previous post first.
Reporter Christopher Booker misspells the name of the ICO's Deputy Commissioner Graham Smith as Gordon Smith. This does not make me confident of his legal analysis. Indeed, a poster named David Welch quotes from the Scottish ICO site in the comments that follow the article in order to correct Brooker's legal analysis. The Scotts reportedly have very similar regulations.
The Telegraph's (1-30-10) Christopher Booker opines:
There is something very odd indeed about the statement by the Information Commission on its investigation into "Climategate", the leak of emails from East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit. Gordon [ie Graham] Smith, the deputy commissioner, confirms that the university's refusal to answer legitimate inquiries made in 2007 and 2008 was an offence under S.77 of the Information Act. But he goes on to claim that the Commission is powerless to bring charges, thanks to a loophole in the law – "because the legislation requires action within six months of the offence taking place".
Careful examination of the Act, however, shows that it says nothing whatever about a time limit. The Commission appears to be trying to confuse this with a provision of the Magistrates Act, that charges for an offence cannot be brought more than six months after it has been drawn to the authorities' attention – not after it was committed. In this case, the Commission only became aware of the offence two months ago when the emails were leaked – showing that the small group of British and American scientists at the top of the IPCC were discussing with each other and with the university ways to break the law, not least by destroying evidence, an offence in itself.
The Commission is thus impaled on a hook of its own devising. By admitting that serious offences were committed, it is now legally obliged to bring charges. And if these were brought under the 1977 Criminal Law Act, alleging that the offences amounted to a conspiracy to defy the law, there is no time limit anyway. [See full text.]
First of all, the remarks attributed to IOC official Smith are not posted on the ICO website, so we only have the media's account/interpretation of what Gordon, or rather Graham Smith reportedly said.
Secondly, a commenter disputes Christopher Brooker's legal analysis. Commenter David Welsh writes:
This may explain.
""If you are dissatisfied with how your request for a review has been dealt with, then you are entitled to ask the Scottish Information Commissioner to investigate your case. You must ask the Scottish Information Commissioner no later than 6 months after the date of receipt by you of the notice or decision you are dissatisfied with or within 6 months of the expiry of the period of 20 working days from receipt by the Council of your request for review. Your should write to:
The Scottish Information Commissioner Kinburn Castle Doubledykes Road St Andrews Fife KY16 9DS"".
Maybe Christopher was tired this week, or else he could have found a proper explanation.
The British people have a long tradition of respect for justice and fairness. It seems odd to me that the Deputy Commissioner, who sees a case after it is "too late," would allege in the media that ICO had ruled that the EAU had breached the law and not post the information on the IOC site. This leaves EAU with no means of responding to the charge by appealing to the IOC or to a court.
Christopher Booker doesn't really even explain precicely what laws the EAU allegedly ruled had been breached. He also does not wonder why the ICO would rule after it was "too late."
Mr. Brooker says there is "confusion over the law." I don't see any law here at all. All I see are unsubstantiated allegations in the newspapers purportedly made by ICO Deputy Commissioner Graham Smith.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Climategate: Curiouser and Curiouser!

The server used by the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in England was recently hacked; e-mails and other documents were stolen, posted on a server in Tomsk, Russia, and circulated on the Internet in late November. The scandal that resulted has been dubbed "Climategate," or климатгейт in Russian.

Because "patriotic" Tomsk hackers in Russia have had a reputation for hacking into sites that get under the Kremlin's skin, the British media and U.N. officials have speculated that the culprits might have been "Tomsk hackers" encouraged or financed by the Russian state security, the FSB. The speculation about the possible involvement of the FSB was even covered by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (12-7-09).

According to the Daily Mail (12-27-09), the embarrassed Russian FSB claims that they have investigated the incident and have provided the Daily Mail with evidence that the Chinese were the culprits:

The investigation into the so-called Warmergate emails - the leaked data from the University of East Anglia’s climate change department - took a new twist last night when The Mail on Sunday tracked the stolen messages to a suspect computer which provides internet access to China.
The address used to post the emails is also on an international ‘black list’ which highlights suspicious behaviour on the internet.

The revelation comes after the Russian security service, the FSB – the former KGB – authorised the release of confidential information that allowed us to retrace the route taken by the email traffic.

A computer company in Siberia was ultimately used to post the controversial messages - which cast doubt on the reliability of scientists’ global warming claims - on the internet.

The revelation led to claims that the Russians were behind the release of the information.

But, anxious to distance themselves from the leak, the FSB revealed how the data had been sent to Siberia from a computer in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The evidence passed to The Mail on Sunday now raises questions about whether Chinese hackers, backed by the communist regime, are the source of the emails.

Supported by their government and its security and intelligence services, Chinese hackers have been at the centre of huge number of ‘cyber attacks’ in recent years, including attempted computer ‘break-ins’ at the House of Commons and Whitehall departments, including the Foreign Office...

Scotland Yard and Norfolk Police are leading the investigation into the email theft at the University of East Anglia. [See the full text and more background about the claims and counter claims at my earlier post here.]

In some of the e-mail correspondance, the CRU scientists complained about British freedom of information laws that reportedly require climate data to be shared with critics of anthropogenic global warming.

This morning, I noticed that East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) had posted this update:

Statement from Professor Edward Acton, Vice-Chancellor, University of East Anglia

Thu, 28 Jan 2010

The University of East Anglia has released the following statement from the Vice-Chancellor Professor Edward Acton.

"The University learnt yesterday that the Information Commissioner's Office (the ICO) had made a statement to the media regarding the University's handling of requests under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act (FOI). We have not received any further information from the ICO although we are urgently trying to contact them. The ICO's opinion that we had breached the terms of Section 77 is a source of grave concern to the University as we would always seek to comply with the terms of the Act. During this case we have sought the advice of the ICO and responded fully to any requests for information.

"Sir Muir Russell is currently conducting an Independent Review of the issues surrounding what has become known as ‘Climategate’ and we very deliberately made our handling of FOI requests part of the terms of reference. I look forward to receiving his report and as I have said before it will be published and I will act accordingly if he finds there is indeed substance in these allegations."

I decided to check out the site of the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) to see what their press release said. The ICO site states:

The Information Commissioner’s Office is the UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.

Oddly, the ICO is only linking to an article from the Telegraph (1-28-10), although the ICO claims:

The ICO usually publicises the enforcement action it takes. Copies of press releases can be found by clicking here.

The ICO press releases do not say anything about the CRU case. It is strange that the ICO evidently only told the media that the "Information Commissioner's office ruled that UEA was in breach of the Freedom of Information Act" (The Telegraph, 1-28-10). How could the ICO have ruled on this case when it is supposedly too late to prosecute the UEA?

An article from The Telegraph (1-28-10) is linked on the ICO homepage in the "News and Views" section, and this would appear to be a kind of confirmation; but it seems strange that the ICO would not post their own statement on their site saying that they "ruled that UEA was in breach of the Freedom of Information Act....But...was unable to prosecute the people involved because the complaint was made too late."

It is also odd that the Telegraph article claims the ICO "was unable to prosecute the people involved," because I don't think individuals would be prosecuted. I think the East Anglia University would be fined.

According to the article in The Telegraph (1-28-10) titled "University scientists in climategate row hid data":

The university embroiled in the 'climategate' scandal refused to make its scientific data available to the public in breach of freedom of information laws, it has emerged.

The University of East Anglia rejected requests for information relating to claims by academic staff that global warming was being caused by man-made emissions.

The Information Commissioner's office ruled that UEA was in breach of the Freedom of Information Act – an offence which is punishable by an unlimited fine.

But it said it was unable to prosecute the people involved because the complaint was made too late.

The ICO wants the law changed so that complaints made more than six months after a breach of the act can still result in prosecutions, it was reported.

Stolen emails revealed how the university's Climatic Research Unit tried to block requests for raw data and other figures, and implied that senior university staff had played a role in the refusal of the requests.

Professor Phil Jones, the director of the Climatic Research Unit, stood down while official inquiries were made.

In an email, Prof Jones requested that a colleague delete correspondence regarding a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published in 2007.

He also told a co-worker he had convinced university authorities not to answer freedom of information requests from people with connections to a website operated by climate change sceptics.

The news that UEA broke the law came after John Beddington, chief scientific adviser to the government, said more honesty about the unreliability of certain predictions was desperately needed...

An ICO spokesman told The Times: "The legislation prevents us from taking any action but from looking at the emails it's clear to us a breach has occurred." [See the Times (1-28-10) article.]

The complaint about the university's conduct was registered by David Holland, a retired engineer from Northampton who had asked for data to back up his view that the university broke the IPCC's regulations in order to discredit climate change sceptics.

Mr Holland was quoted as saying: "There is an apparent catch-22 here. The prosecution has to be identified within six months but you have to exhaust the university's complaints procedure before the commission will look at your complaint. That process can take longer than six months."

Graham Smith, Deputy Commissioner at the ICO, said in a statement: "The emails reveal that Mr Holland's requests under the Freedom of Information Act were not dealt with as they should have been under the legislation." [See full text]

This story is being repeated on the Internet by the international media and bloggers, but I can't find a press release on the ICO site to corroborate what the ICO Deputy Commissioner Graham Smith reportedly told the media.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Russia's Sayano-Shushen Dam May Burst and Drown Hundreds of Thousands

Russia's Sayano–Shushenskaya hydroelectric power station [Саяно-Шушенская гидроэлектростанция] "is located on the Yenisei River, near Sayanogorsk in Khakassia, Russia. It is the largest power plant in Russia and the sixth-largest hydroelectric plant in the world." (Wikipedia)

Russia expert Paul Goble reports in Window on Eurasia (1-25-10) that Russia's Sayano-Shushen Dam may burst and drown hundreds of thousands of people. Dr. Goble posted an earlier article about the dam on 11-16-09. Dr. Goble's 1-25-10 article begins:

The freezing of the reservoir behind the Sayano-Shushen Dam is creating a situation that threatens an even greater technogenic disaster than the one there last August, a disaster that could lead to “tens and hundreds of thousands of human victims,” according to an online petition directed at President Dmitry Medvedev...

According to the online petition:

"[I]t is becoming perfectly clear that the current leaders are not attempting either to restore or preserve the dam but only to hide the problems from public view.” [See full text.]

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Russian Journalist Konstantin Popov Murdered in Police Custody in Tomsk

"[Konstantin Popov's] friends allege, [Tomsk police] officers subjected him to a sadistic beating, raping him with a broom handle and causing severe internal injuries.

Popov – who worked for the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper – was taken to a hospital in a coma. He died without regaining consciousness."--The Guardian (1-21-10)

Following some high-profile crimes by policemen, Russia's President Medvedev has signed a decree on reforming Russia's notorious police agency, the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD). Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (1-24-10) reports:

Several hundred people in the western Siberian city of Tomsk have staged a demonstration against local police and the death in police custody of journalist Konstantin Popov.

Popov was detained for being drunk on January 4.

He was severely beaten in the police detention area and taken to a hospital in a coma, and died from his injuries on January 20.

Protesters in Tomsk today carried banners reading "A militia beyond control is worse than bandits" and others pinning "shame" on the police force and senior officers.

The chief of police in Tomsk and the policeman who reportedly attacked Popov have been dismissed.

The policeman faces a number of charges in connection with the assault and subsequent death.

Russia Expert Paul Goble Reports on Global Warming

The potent greenhouse gas methane is bubbling up through thawing permafrost.

Watch biologist Dr. Sergei Kirpotin (Сергей Кирпотин), of the Tomsk State University in Tomsk, Russia, discuss and demonstrate the release of methane from Russia's permafrost in this Russian media report from (8-22-09). Kirpotin is wearing an orange jacket in this video. Kirpotin also describes his research in this Russian Greenpeace video with English subtitles. For further details about these two videos see "A Mermaid Hovers Over Russia" (1-17-10).

I have posted a series of articles about Dr. Kirpotin's research. When Dr. Kirpotin sinks his boot into the bog, he is demonstrating how the methane is visibly bubbling through Russia's thawing permafrost.

Permafrost is a "refrigerator" that stores carbon in the form of undecayed organic matter. The permafrost stores millions of years of frozen organic matter; consequently, when the permafrost thaws, frozen organic matter stored in the permafrost "refrigerator" begins to decay; and the greenhouse gas methane is released. Dr. Kirpotin believes that this process is accelerating and irreversible, although perhaps it can be slowed down.

The famous Russia expert Dr. Paul A. Goble has a blog called Window on Eurasia. See his impressive professional credentials on the right side of his blog.

Sometimes, Dr. Goble posts articles about the impact of global warming on Russia. Perhaps after the British authorities investigate the alleged hacking of the server used by the East Anglia University's Climatic Research Unit (CRU), which was possibly perpetrated by Tomsk hackers in Russia, Dr. Goble will post his assessment of the so-called "Climategate" scandal.

In the meantime, Russia expert Brian Whitmore at RFE/RL (12-7-09) has posted a careful article titled "Climategate: A Russian Connection?" After Brian Whitmore's article was published, the Russian state security (FSB) reportedly suggested that the Chinese were behind the hacking of the East Anglia Climatic Research Unit (CRU). [See the Daily Mail's article "Chinese hackers linked to 'Warmergate' climate change leaked emails controversy" (12-27-09).]

The Tomsk State University (TSU) permafrost expert Dr. Sergei Kirpotin claims that the hacking was a provocation that was ordered for the purpose of damaging the Copenhagen conference on climate change.

Whitmore summarizes the accusations on both sides and links up to the most important British media articles. Whitmore closes his article this this caution:

Now we at the Power Vertical [blog] love a good old cloak-and-dagger-style FSB-conspiracy yarn as much as anybody (actually, probably more than anybody). Our experience also tells us that the FSB is certainly capable of such an operation. And Russia, a major gas and oil exporter, certainly has motive to derail a new global climate pact.

But the evidence presented thus far is a bit thin and circumstantial. But this does merit keeping an eye on and we'll follow up if something more substantial turns up. If any readers come across anything, either supporting or debunking the alleged Russia connection, give us a shout in comments or by e-mail.

Hopefully, the British authorities will soon determine who was behind the alleged hacking. In the meantime, Dr. Goble's post, "Diverting Siberian Rivers to Central Asia Would Threaten Planet, Russian Academic Warns" (6-16-08), mentions an interesting article in Science Daily (6-11-08) titled "Permafrost Threatened By Rapid Retreat Of Arctic Sea Ice, Study Finds." The Science Daily article begins:

The rate of climate warming over northern Alaska, Canada, and Russia could more than triple during periods of rapid sea ice loss, according to a new study led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The findings raise concerns about the thawing of permafrost, or permanently frozen soil, and the potential consequences for sensitive ecosystems, human infrastructure, and the release of additional greenhouse gases. [See full text.]

Friday, January 22, 2010

Russian Police Officer Aleksei Dymovsky Speaks out Against Corruption

"The authorities are seeking to 'discredit [Major Aleksei Dymovsky] and make him look like an ordinary crook in order to humiliate him and belittle his role and his public statements.'"--Major Alexei Dymovsky's attorney, Sergei Gubar, speaking to the Russian Service of RFE/RL (1-22-10)

The Novorossiisk authorities and the state security (FSB) are subjecting Major Aleksei Dymovsky (Алексей Дымовский), a Russian police officer, to a campaign of kompromat and legalized repression because he appealed to Prime Minister Putin on Youtube (English subtitles) to tackle corruption in the police. After he posted his allegations on Youtube, Dymovsky was fired for "libel and action that tarnishes the police force," according to the English-language RIA Novosti (1-22-10).

Major Dymovsky has now been charged in court with fraud and abuse of power because he told the truth about police corruption.

According to Major Dymovsky, young policemen don't mind the low salaries because they know they will be able to supplement their income with bribes. Major Dymovsky alleges that the Novorossiisk police are even pressured to arrest innocent people in order to meet monthly quotas. Major Dymovsky keeps sighing during his appeal to Prime Minister Putin. He seems very sad and resigned to his fate--a campaign of fabricated slander and arrest.

In this Youtube video, a young man asks Russians if they have ever heard of Major Dymovsky's appeal to Prime Minister Putin to tackle corruption in police (militsia). What do you think they are saying?

I thought it was pretty ironic that Major Dymovsky appealed to the former KGB officer Prime Minister Putin to tackle corruption and bribetaking in the police; when Putin worked in Leningrad/St. Petersburg, his job was to decide who would be given a license to export precious metals. How do you think Putin decided who would be given a license? Probably he took bribes.

I remember what happened to the FSB wistleblower Alexandr Litvinenko and wonder if the ordinary policeman Major Alexei Dymovsky will meet a similar fate. As Litvinenko's Wikipedia entry notes:

In November 1998, Litvinenko publicly accused his [FSB] superiors of ordering the assassination of Russian tycoon and oligarch, Boris Berezovsky. Litvinenko was arrested the following March on charges of exceeding his authority at work. He was acquitted in November 1999 but re-arrested before the charges were again dismissed in 2000. A third criminal case began but he fled the country to the United Kingdom with his wife, where he was granted political asylum.

During his time in London Litvinenko authored two books, "Blowing up Russia: Terror from within" and "Lubyanka Criminal Group," where he accused Russian secret services of staging Russian apartment bombings and other terrorism acts to bring Vladimir Putin to power.[3] He also accused Vladimir Putin of ordering the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya.[4]

On 1 November 2006, Litvinenko suddenly fell ill and was hospitalized. He died three weeks later from lethal poisoning by radioactive polonium-210, an incident that is sometimes commented as "the beginning of an era of nuclear terrorism."[5][6][7][8]The events leading up to his poisoning and death are a matter of controversy, spawning numerous theories relating to his poisoning and death. The British investigation into his death resulted in a failed request to Russia for the extradition of Andrey Lugovoy whom they accused of Litvinenko's murder, contributing to the further cooling of Russia–United Kingdom relations.

RFE/RL (1-22-10) reports on Alexei Dymovsky:

A Russian police officer who gained widespread fame for posting a video on YouTube alleging police corruption has been arrested for fraud and abuse of power.

Aleksei Dymovsky made international headlines late last year when he appealed to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to tackle police corruption on the popular video-sharing site. In a statement, the Prosecutor-General's Office said he faces 10 years in prison if convicted.

Dymovsky's attorney, Sergei Gubar, tells RFE/RL's Russian Service that the authorities are seeking to "discredit him and make him look like an ordinary crook in order to humiliate him and belittle his role and his public statements."

Gubar adds that the arrest will discourage future whistle blowers and harm the cause of combating corruption.

"By today's actions, by detaining Aleksei Dymovsky, they are threatening those people of common sense who remain in the police, telling them that if they try to fight the system, the same will happen to them. What happened today was completely unlawful."

Fired After Posting

In a series of videos posted on YouTube, Dymovsky, who was a police major in the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk, alleged that police there engaged in routine falsification of evidence and were under pressure to arrest innocent people in order to meet monthly quotas. He also complained of poor working conditions and a low salary.

Dymovsky was fired after posting the videos, which received more than 1 million hits on YouTube. Police in Novorossiisk conducted their own investigation after the videos were released, which they said did not back up Dymovsky's allegations.

Rights activists, however, said the allegations were accurate and that police abuse and fraud in Russia are widespread.

Attorney Vladimir Volkov, a former prosecutor, told RFE/RL's Russian Service at the time that Dymovsky's allegations only scratch the surface of the malfeasance among the country's police.

"Of course, what he said is true," Volkov said. "What's more, Dymovsky doesn't even know the whole truth."

Authorities announced in December that they were investigating Dymovsky for fraud linked to abuse of office. He was summoned today to appear in Novorossiisk's Primorsky District Court.

Foregone Conclusion

Vadim Karastelyov, a Russian human rights activist, tells RFE/RL's Russian Service that his detention had been a foregone conclusion.

"The decision to detain [Dymovsky] had been made before the hearing because the courthouse was surrounded by police and FSB personnel, and a police car was waiting for him outside," Karastelyov says. "So, even before the announcement of the ruling, the police took control of the courtroom. They entered the room together with the judge. Then the judge read out the decision to detain him." [See full text.]

Thursday, January 21, 2010

EUROPOL Investigates Carbon Credit Fraud

"Europol has set up a specific project to collect and analyse information in order to identify and disrupt the organised criminal structures behind these [carbon credit] fraud schemes."--EUROPOL (12-9-09)

Recently, Britain's National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit (NETCU) announced that the National Domestic Extremism Unit (which incorporates NPOIU, NDET and NETCU) has been investigating the allegations of computer hacking at the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) and that they have "the expertise and resource to assist with this investigation" because they have a "good background knowledge of climate change issues, in relation to criminal investigations." It's not clear to me from this press release what the Extremist Unit is doing and what the NETCU is doing. [See also "Police Extremist Unit Investigates Allegations of Computer Hacking at The University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU)."]

I am only speculating, but perhaps this press release means that the National Domestic Extremism Unit and its affiliates have a "good background knowledge of climate change issues, in relation to criminal investigations" because they have been assisting EUROPOL with the investigation into carbon credit frauds being perpetrated by organized criminal structures.

Here is a press release from EUROPOL (12-9-09) that explains carbon credit fraud:

The Hague, 09 December 2009

Carbon Credit fraud causes more than 5 billion euros damage for European Taxpayer

The Hague - The Netherlands.

The European Union (EU) Emission Trading System (ETS) has been the victim of fraudulent traders in the past 18 months. This resulted in losses of approximately 5 billion euros for several national tax revenues. It is estimated that in some countries, up to 90% of the whole market volume was caused by fraudulent activities.

Indications of suspicious trading activities were noted in late 2008, when several market platforms saw an unprecedented increase in the trade volume of European Unit Allowances (EUAs). Market volume peaked in May 2009, with several hundred million EUAs traded in e.g. in France and Denmark. At that time the market price of 1 EUA, which equals 1 ton of carbon dioxide, was around EUR 12,5.

As an immediate measure to prevent further losses France, the Netherlands, the UK and most recently Spain, have all changed their taxation rules on these transactions. After these measures were taken, the market volume in the aforementioned countries dropped by up to 90 percent.

With the support of Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom Europol has set up a specific project to collect and analyse information in order to identify and disrupt the organised criminal structures behind these fraud schemes. There are reasons to believe that fraudsters might soon migrate towards the gas and electricity branches of the energy sector.

Mr. Wainwright, Director of Europol, says "These criminal activities endanger the credibility of the European Union Emission Trading System and lead to the loss of significant tax revenue for governments. Europol is using its expertise and information capabilities to help target the organised crime groups involved". Europol has therefore offered its support to the European Commission - DG Environment to safeguard the integrity of the Community Independent Transaction Log."

Background information

Missing trader intra-community fraud (MTIC) is the theft of Value Added Tax (VAT) from a government by organised crime groups who exploit the way VAT is treated within the member states of the EU.

The EU has the objective of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, to reduce climate change and meet its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. Each MS has granted its emitting facilities a certain amount of emission rights by means of a National Allocation Plan. These emission rights can be traded like any other commodity on the market. The transfer of greenhouse gas emission allowances is a taxable supply of services.

In Europe there are 6 trading platforms: European Climate Exchange (London, UK), Nordic Power Exchange (Oslo, Norway), European Energy Exchange (Leipzig, Germany), Energy Exchange Austria (Graz, Austria), Climex (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) and BlueNext (Paris, France) and various other market platforms such as SENDECO2, Italian Power Exchange GME and most recently Greenmarket, set up by Deutsche Bank at the Munich exchange. More than 2 billion EUAs have been allocated to 12.000 emitting facilities in the 27 MS. The EU carbon market is estimated to be worth about €90 billion a year!

The Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) was created as a cap-and-trade system for transactions of European Unit Allowances. Each transfer of EUAs is recorded in a national registry before it is centrally stored in the Community Independent Transaction Log (CITL) at the EU Commission.

Carbon credit fraud is a variation on the VAT carousel fraud. The attached graphic shows how carbon credit carousel fraud works.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Siberia's Tundra Is Melting

Katey Walter [?] taking measurements in Siberia (photo by Dmitri Draluk)

[Watch "Arctic Lake Methane Ignited" and other videos by Katey Walter Anthony]

Note: The names in this article seem to be confused. I know that there is a climate scientist named Katey Walter Anthony. I think this is the person described in this article.

"Katie Walter [?] is part of a joint U.S.-Russian team of scientists studying the lakes and has spent months at a time for the last four years in a small village north of Yakutsk, studying thawing lakes."---RFE/RL (10-12-06)

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (10-12-06) reports:

The landscape of Siberia is transforming. New lakes are forming in the north, while existing lakes are getting larger. Some buildings and houses built upon the permafrost are sinking and starting to crack.

What's more, scientists expect this process to speed up, because as the lakes thaw, they release carbon and methane into the air, which in turn contributes to global warming.

Permafrost exists all over the world, but Russia has the largest patches of it. Scientists estimate that permafrost covers more than 10 million square kilometers of Russia. A Russian scientist, Mikhail Sumgin first coined the term permafrost, or "vechnaya merzlota" (eternal frost), in the late 1920s.

But, now, less than a century later, scientists are worried about how permanent the permafrost really is.

...And, Siberia's problems affect not only Siberians. Walters found that melting permafrost in Siberia is releasing five times the amount of methane than was previously thought. And methane is a particularly potent greenhouse gas -- it is considered 20 times more damaging as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

This means that Siberia is not just suffering from the consequences of global warming but is also actively contributing to it.

Walters [?] has compared the melting of the Siberian permafrost to a time bomb waiting to go off. Until her team published a paper in the science magazine "Nature" last month, few scientists had an accurate picture of how much methane was being released. [Read the full text.]

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Mermaid Hovers Over Siberia

Here is an interesting article (in Russian) and a Russian T.V. news report (, 8-22-09) [see a larger version on Youtube] about an experiment being carried out by the International Space Station (shown above).

The experiment is called "Mermaid" (Русалка), and its purpose is not only to measure the concentration of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere but to determine the sources and origins of these gases.

"Mermaid" is also the acronym of an instrument called "a hand spectrum analyzer of the components of the atmosphere." One of the Russian scientists explains the features of the "Mermaid" at the beginning of the film. It looks a bit like an old-fashioned camera. In Russian, this instrument, which combines the functions of a camera and a spectrometer, is called Ручной спектральный анализатор компонентов атмосферы, or Русалка. It is pronounced Rusalka.

The film explains that the permafrost is melting at an accerating pace and shows some of the accidents and damage to infrastructure that occur when the thawing earth becomes unstable. For more information on the problems created by the thawing of Russia's permafrost, search "permafrost" at Paul Goble's blog, "Window on Eurasia." Dr. Goble is a famous expert on Russia who has worked for various government agencies. His credentials are listed on the side of his blog.

Although the Russian authorities may downplay their concerns because they don't really have any good solutions, they are very concerned about the economic consequences of the thawing because much of Russia's natural gas and oil is extracted from the permafrost. Paul Goble (6-20-07) reports:

A new study, prepared at the request of the Russian security agencies, concludes that global warming is likely to make it impossible for Moscow to continue to export oil and gas at current rates and thus over the next decade or more will undermine the foundations of Russia’s economic recovery and international standing.

Entitled “The World Around Russia: 2017” and edited by Sergei Karaganov, one of Moscow’s most influential political commentators, this study includes articles by scholars from the Academy of Sciences as well as other experts on climate change, economics, and other issues (

Its conclusions are stark: Russia, the newly published book argues, faces a variety of threats from global warming, ranging from the possible influx of immigrants from countries becoming too hot to the loss of access to its oil and gas fields as a result of the melting of the permafrost in many petroleum-rich regions of the Russian north.

And its authors suggest, neither Moscow nor the international community has the ability to prevent this from happening over the next generation or more, even if one or both were to take all the steps that Russian and Western environmental experts now advocate.

Massive immigration is already a political issue in Russia, but the appearance of this book indicates that the dangers global warming poses for Russia’s oil and gas industries are trends that the Kremlin and the Russian security agencies are paying far greater attention to.

If the permafrost melts – and several scholars participating in this study argue that this process has become “irreversible” – then it will be extremely difficult and enormously expensive for Moscow to shore up drilling fields and pipelines on hitherto solid territories transformed into large boggy marshes.

More than any other country, the Russian Federation has extensive experience working in permafrost areas and has developed technologies that allow it to build and operate various facilities in these regions. But if the permafrost melts, as this study suggests it will continue to do, all Russian facilities now on frozen ground will be at risk. [Window on Eurasia (6-2-07). "Global Warming Threatens Russian Oil Exports, FSB Study Warns."]

If Tomsk hackers, who are sometimes encouraged and guided by the FSB, indeed hacked into East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) and provoked the global warming scandal called "Climategate," as the British papers and U.N. officials have speculated, the hackers have damaged scientific relationships and research that Russia could benefit from. As Dr. Paul Goble (5-31-07) has observed:

[F]orces like the “hacker-patriot” community which Russian security agencies are encouraging if not controlling might ultimately threaten precisely those who are currently cheering it on.

One of the Russian scientists interviewed on the T.V. program "A Mermaid Hovers Over Siberia" is the biologist Dr. Sergei Kirpotin (Сергей Кирпотин), who teaches at Tomsk State University in Tomsk, Siberia. Dr. Kirpotin, who is wearing an orange jacket in the film, is an expert on the thawing of the permafrost; and I have posted a number of articles about his research.

When Dr. Kirpotin sinks his boot into the bog, he is demonstrating how the methane is visibly bubbling through the thawing permafrost. The Russian permafrost is full of frozen organic matter; but when the permafrost thaws, the organic matter decays and the greenhouse gas methane is released. Dr. Kirpotin believes that this process is accelerating and irreversible, although perhaps it can be slowed down. [To learn about the apocalyptic scenarios that keep climate change scientists awake at night see Arctic methane release, Clathrate gun hypothesis, and "Impacts: On the Threshhold of Abrupt Climate Changes" (9-22-08).]

In an interesting English-subtitled video made by Russian Greenpeace, Dr. Kirpotin discusses the consequences of the thawing permafrost. [This is a terrific video, but at times it's not working. Try again later.] Here is a side show that Dr. Kirpotin made about the permafrost. It takes a long time to load. Be patient. The captions are in English.

If you use the Google translation tool to read the Vesti "Mermaid" article, you will be able to understand most of what the authors are explaining as you view "A Mermaid Hovers Over Siberia" ("Русалка" парит над Сибирью):

На Международной космической станции начался эксперимент под сказочным названием "Русалка". Цель - измерить содержание парниковых газов в атмосфере Земли. Метан, углекислый газ и водяной пар уже реально влияют на потепление климата.

"Русалка" – аббревиатура. Полное название аппарата – Ручной спектральный анализатор компонентов атмосферы. Точно такой же сейчас на орбите. С его помощью космонавты будут фотографировать поверхность Земли. В Институте космических исследований, говорят, аналогов "Русалки" в мире нет.

"Задача, не то, чтобы измерить общее содержание СО2, оно уже измерено. Задача, чтобы определить источники и истоки этих газов", - поясняет технический руководитель проекта "Русалка" Александр Трохимовский.

Подобный аппарат сегодня парит над Венерой. Там парниковых газов в избытке, настоящая космическая "баня": густая пелена облаков и температура за сотни градусов. По прогнозам, если накопление парниковых газов в атмосфере Земли не остановить, наша планета может превратиться во вторую Венеру.

"Мерзлая поверхность болот еще недавно была покрыта очень светлым, почти белым лишайником. Мы предположили, что в результате потепления климата количество поверхностей темного, бурого цвета или озер, которые тоже поглощают солнечные лучи, будет все больше и больше увеличиваться. И есть некоторый критический порог темных и бурых поверхностей, по достижении которого процесс таяния мерзлоты будут подстегивать сам себя. Чем больше становится темного, тем быстрее идет таяние, - рассказывает о механизме, приводящем к возникновению парникового эффекта, доктор биологических наук, проректор Томского госуниверситета Сергей Кирпотин. - Видно, что на этой изначально белой поверхности, занятой лишайниками, которые как белоснежный снег отражали солнечные лучи, сегодня начинают стремительно возникать молодые озера".

Биологи Томского государственного университета давно бьют тревогу. Глобальное потепление - не выдуманная история. Примеры под ногами: болота. В Западной Сибири это почти половина всей территории. Здесь и самое крупное болото в мире - Васюганское.

Вот оно, сердце Сибири, болота. Без специальной защиты от комаров и болотников здесь делать нечего. Прежде чем зайти сюда, нас предупредили: ходить только по траве, в центр тропы не наступать – затянет.

В регулировании климата болота играют одну из главных ролей. Ученые их называют "рефрижераторами" - охладителями. Растения, поглощая углекислый газ из атмосферы, превращаются в торф, а парниковый газ "консервируется". На юге Западной Сибири болота по такому сценарию и "живут", а вот на севере, в зоне вечной мерзлоты, ситуация последнее время изменилась не в лучшую сторону.

"Вот я попрыгал и начинает выделяться газ, метан, сильнейший парниковый газ, - проводит эксперимент посередине болота Сергей Кирпотин. -В результате того, что началось обвальное оттаивание болот в зоне мерзлоты, в атмосферу начинает выделяться большое количество метана. К сожалению, этот газ обладает в 30 раз более сильным парниковым эффектом, чем углекислый газ. И сегодня на чаше весов два процесса: позитивная роль болот на юге, как охладителя атмосферы, и негативная их роль на севере Западно-Сибирской равнины".

В экспедиции на болота местные экологи ходят по несколько раз в год. По наблюдениям, таяние столь стремительно, что остановить его уже невозможно. В Сибири теплеет гораздо быстрее, чем где-либо на планете. За сорок лет температура повысилась на три градуса. Сильнейшие ураганы, которых раньше здесь никогда не было, сегодня в сводках погоды. Многие это связывают также с потеплением. Эти три градуса наносят урон и экономике.

"Сегодня в ряде случаев зимние дороги начинают функционировать с конца декабря, а то и после Нового года. Представляете, какие подвижки по времени?! Это огромные потери для нефтегазового комплекса, который значительную часть своей деятельности обеспечивает именно по таким зимним дорогам", - подсчитывает экономические потери от глобального потепления для экономики региона проректор Томского госуниверситета.

Кто же главный виновник изменения климата на Земле и производитель парниковых газов: человек с его заводами и машинами или сама планета? Известно, что смена климата для Земли - естественный процесс. Были в истории и ледниковые периоды, и тропическая жара. Стоит ли опасаться? Ученые во мнениях расходятся. Однако в одном уверены: содержание парниковых газов в атмосфере Земли растет, и климат планеты меняется.

Tomsk Scientist Sergei Kirpotin Has a Few Choice Words About the Provocations of the "Climategate" Hackers

This is a picture of Dr. Sergei Kirpotin (Сергей Кирпотин), a Russian scientist who teaches at Tomsk State University in the west Siberian city of Tomsk, Russia. This photo appeared in the Russian periodical Science and Religion, which used to be an atheist publication during the communist era.

Dr. Kirpotin, an expert on the Russian permafrost, writes that in the last few years Russia's permafrost has been melting at a much faster rate than previously. Dr. Kirpotin believes this accelerated thawing is due to anthropogenic (man-caused) global warming. A general article on his research appears in Discover Magazine (1-30-06).

It's no surprise that scientists who work for Russia's huge and politically powerful natural gas monopoly Gazprom tend not to support the theory of anthropogenic global warming. According to Russia expert Gregory Feifer of National Public Radio (9-18-06):

[M]any Russian scientists are skeptical about Kirpotin's claim that human activity is causing global warming and thus Siberia's thawing.

At a conference of experts at the local headquarters of the giant Russian gas monopoly Gazprom, geologist Grigorii Zaichikov says the rise in temperature is part of a natural, cyclical process.

Mr. GRIGORII ZAICHIKOV (Geologist, Gazprom Conference): (Through Translator) You can't just look at the earth's surface when talking about possible effects of global warming. You have to study both satellite images and geodynamics deep inside the earth to be able to come to any conclusion.

[Note: Grigory M. Zaichikov – Deputy Director for Science, Engineering and Technical Center, Gazprom dobycha Urengoy.]

FEIFER: Still, no one disputes the growing evidence of warming temperatures. New flora and fauna are slowly moving north into the area, including animals like badgers usually seen much further south.

The melting tundra is also having economic effects. The thawing surface is causing power and telephone poles to tilt, forcing the authorities to install concrete ties to stabilize them. Botanist Kirpotin says it's evidence like that that shows something worrying is happening in Siberia and he's calling on the international scientific community to launch further investigations.

According to Russian Greenpeace, Dr. Kirpotin reacted with anger when the e-mails and documents of British climatologists at the East Anglia Climatic Research Unit (CRU) were stolen and posted on the Internet. Kirpotin is quoted in Russian Greenpeace (12-9-09) as saying that the theft was a "provocation" that was clearly "ordered" by someone in order to create doubts about the science behind the theory of global warming.

Some U.N. officials and the British media have suggested that hackers encouraged or paid by the Russian state security (FSB) are responsible for the theft. Tomsk hackers in particular have a reputation for attacking websites they do not like, and their actions have even been publically applauded by the FSB. According to Russia expert Paul Goble:

Tomsk students launched a denial of service attack at the “Kavkaz-Tsentr” portal, a site whose reports about Chechnya angered Russian officials. The FSB office in Tomsk put out a special press release saying that what the students had done was a legitimate “expression of their position as citizens, one worthy of respect.” [Window on Eurasia: FSB Encourages, Guides Russia’s ‘Hacker-Patriots’ (5-31-07); See also Paul Goble's credentials at his Wikipedia entry.]

The FSB denies responsibility for the theft of the CRU e-mails and claims that FSB computer experts have uncovered evidence suggesting that the Chinese are behind the theft. The theft is now being investigated by British computer experts from the National Domestic Extremism Unit.

According to Britain's NETCU:

While this is not strictly a domestic extremism matter, as a national police unit, we had the expertise and resource to assist with this investigation, as well as good background knowledge of climate change issues, in relation to criminal investigations.

Here are Dr. Kirpotin's comments about the so-called "Climategate" scandal in Russian, followed by my translation in English. My Russian is not perfect, but the main points will be right. Readers can also go to the original site and use the Google translation toolbar.

Russian Greenpeace (12-9-09) reports:

Сергей Кирпотин, доктор биологических наук, проректор по международным связям Томского Государственного Университета, Россия: «Во-первых, информация, полученная таким путём, не может заслуживать доверия. Совершенно очевидно, что имел место заказ, поскольку не просто была взломана личная переписка, но и сделана подборка совершенно определённой направленности, никакой хакер просто ради развлечения этого бы делать не стал.

Во-вторых, это нормальное явление, что в личной переписке учёные могут подвергать сомнению ту или иную гипотезу. Если вырвать из контекста отдельные фразы учёных, создававших в XVIII-XIX веках нашу современную науку, можно прийти к выводам, что все мы сегодня в школе изучаем совершенный бред, не имеющий под собой абсолютно никаких оснований.

И, наконец, вброс подобной информации (особенно перед самым началом конференции в Копенгагене) носит деструктивный характер для общества, особенно в России, где слабо сформированы социальные институты, и подобные провокации только укрепляют преобладающий в общественном мнении скептицизм на тему проблемы изменения климата».

Sergei Kirpotin, Sc.D., Vice Rector for International Relations, Tomsk State University, Russia: "First, information received in this way can not be considered credible. It is completely clear that there was an order in place, because not only was personal correspondence hacked, but also no hacker would assemble such a tendentious collection of documents just for fun.

Secondly, it is normal that in personal correspondence scientists may question this or that hypothesis. If certain phrases that scientists who built our modern science in XVIII-XIX centuries were taken our of context, we would all have to conclude that we are now in school to learn complete nonsense devoid of reason.

And finally, injecting such information (especially just before the start of the conference in Copenhagen) is destructive to society, particularly in Russia, which has poorly formed social institutions. Such provocations only strengthen the prevailing skepticism of public opinion on climate change."

So far, I have only found Dr. Kirpotin's characterization of the CRU hacking on the Russian Greenpeace site. I haven't found his words reported in the major media in either Russia or in the English-language media.