• All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.

  • I.F. Stone

donderdag 14 december 2017

Surveillance That Never Sleeps in the Land of the Free


Surveillance That Never Sleeps

Photo by Mike Mozart | CC BY 2.0
“He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows when you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!”
—“Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”
Just in time for Christmas, the Deep State wants to give America the gift that keeps on giving: never-ending mass surveillance. I’m not referring to the kind of surveillance carried out by that all-knowing and all-seeing Jolly Old St. Nick and his informant the Elf on the Shelf (although, to be fair, they have helped to acclimate us to a world in which we’re always being watched and judged by higher authorities). No, this particular bit of Yuletide gift-giving comes courtesy of the Deep State (a.k.a. the Surveillance State, Police State, Shadow Government and black-ops spy agencies).
If this power-hungry cabal gets its way, the government’s power to spy on its citizens will soon be all-encompassing and permanent.
As it now stands, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act—the legal basis for two of the National Security Agency’s largest mass surveillance programs, “PRISM” and “Upstream”—is set to expire at the end of 2017.
“PRISM” lets the NSA access emails, video chats, instant messages, and other content sent via Facebook, Google, Apple and others. “Upstream” lets the NSA worm its way into the internet backbone—the cables and switches owned by private corporations like AT&T that make the internet into a global network—and scan traffic for the communications of tens of thousands of individuals labeled “targets.”
Just as the USA Patriot Act was perverted from its original intent to fight terrorism abroad and was used instead to covertly crack down on the American people (allowing government agencies to secretly track Americans’ financial activities, monitor their communications, and carry out wide-ranging surveillance on them), Section 702 has been used as an end-run around the Constitution to allow the government to collect the actual content of Americans’ emails, phone calls, text messages and other electronic communication without a warrant.
Under Section 702, the government collects and analyzes over 250 million internet communications every year. There are estimates that at least half of these contain information about U.S. residents, many of whom have done nothing wrong. This information is then shared with law enforcement and “routinely used for purposes unrelated to national security.”
Mind you, this is about far more than the metadata collection that Edward Snowden warned us about, which was bad enough. Section 702 gives the government access to the very content of your conversations (phone calls, text messages, video chats), your photographs, your emails. As Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., warned, “This is not just who you send it to, but what’s in it.”
Unfortunately, Big Brother doesn’t relinquish power easily.
The Police State doesn’t like restrictions.
And the Surveillance State certainly doesn’t look favorably on anything that might weaken its control. Even after Congress limited the NSA’s ability to collect bulk phone records, the agency continued to do so, vacuuming up more than 151 million records of Americans’ phone calls last year alone.
A government that doesn’t heed its constituents, doesn’t abide by the law, and kowtows to its police and military forces? That’s a dictatorship anywhere else.
Here in America, you can call it “technotyranny,” a term coined by investigative journalist James Bamford to refer to an age of technological tyranny made possible by government secrets, government lies, government spies and their corporate ties.
Beware of what you say, what you read, what you write, where you go, and with whom you communicate, because it will all be recorded, stored and used against you eventually, at a time and place of the government’s choosing. Privacy, as we have known it, is dead.
For all intents and purposes, we now have a fourth branch of government.
This fourth branch came into being without any electoral mandate or constitutional referendum, and yet it possesses superpowers, above and beyond those of any other government agency save the military. It is all-knowing, all-seeing and all-powerful. It operates beyond the reach of the president, Congress and the courts, and it marches in lockstep with the corporate elite who really call the shots in Washington, DC.
The government’s “technotyranny” surveillance apparatus has become so entrenched and entangled with its police state apparatus that it’s hard to know anymore where law enforcement ends and surveillance begins.
The short answer: they have become one and the same entity.
The police state has passed the baton to the surveillance state.
Having already transformed local police into extensions of the military, the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and the FBI are preparing to turn the nation’s soldier cops into techno-warriors, complete with iris scanners, body scanners, thermal imaging Doppler radar devices, facial recognition programs, license plate readers, cell phone Stingray devices and so much more.
This is the new face of policing in America.
Enter big data policing which gives the nation’s 17,000 police agencies access to a growing “investigative” database that maps criminal associates and gangs, as well as their social and familial connections.
As Slate reports, “These social network systems, which target ‘chronic offenders,’ also include information about innocent associates, family members, and friends, creating extensive human maps of connections and patterns of contacts.” Those individuals then get assigned a threat score to determine their risk of being a perpetrator or victim of a future crime.
In Chicago, for example, “individuals with the highest scores on the Chicago Police Department ‘heat list’ get extra attention in the form of home visits or increased community surveillance.”
In Baltimore, police are using Cessna planes equipped with surveillance systems to film entire segments of the city, then combining that footage with police reports in order to “map the comings and goings of everyone—criminals and innocents alike.”
In this way, big data policing not only expands Big Brother’s reach down to the local level, but it also provides local police—most of whom know little about the Constitution and even less about the Fourth Amendment—with a new technological weapon to deploy against an unsuspecting public.
The end result is pre-crime, packaged in the guise of national security but no less sinister.
All of those individuals who claim to be unconcerned about government surveillance because they have nothing to hide, take note: pre-crime policing—given a futuristic treatment in Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report—aims to treat you like a criminal before you’ve ever even committed a crime.
This hasn’t fazed President Trump who, much like his predecessors, has thus far marched in lockstep with the dictates of the police state.
If approved, this would be yet another secret government agency carrying out secret surveillance and counterintelligence, funded by a secret black ops budget that by its very nature does away with transparency, bypasses accountability and completely eludes any form of constitutionality.
According to The Washington Post, there are more than a dozen “black budget” national intelligence agencies already receiving more than $52.6 billion in secret government funding. Among the top five black ops agencies currently are the CIA, the NSA, the National Reconnaissance Office, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Program, and the General Defense Intelligence Program.
A significant chunk of that black ops money has been flowing to Silicon Valley since before there was an internet, itself a creation of the military/security industrial complex.
Earlier this year, Amazon announced that it would be storing classified information for U.S. spy agencies in its digital cloud, part of a $600 million contract with the nation’s intelligence agencies.
Two decades earlier, America’s spy agencies tapped Silicon Valley to spearhead research into ways of tracking individuals and groups online. That research, as documented by Jeff Nesbit, the former director of legislative and public affairs at the National Science Foundation, culminated in the creation of a massive public-private surveillance state that hinged on a partnership between the NSA, the CIA and Google.
“The research arms of the CIA and NSA hoped that the best computer-science minds in academia could identify what they called ‘birds of a feather,’” writes Nesbit. He continues:
Their research aim was to track digital fingerprints inside the rapidly expanding global information network, which was then known as the World Wide Web… By working with emerging commercial-data companies, their intent was to track like-minded groups of people across the internet and identify them from the digital fingerprints they left behind, much like forensic scientists use fingerprint smudges to identify criminals. Just as “birds of a feather flock together,” they predicted that potential terrorists would communicate with each other in this new global, connected world—and they could find them by identifying patterns in this massive amount of new information. Once these groups were identified, they could then follow their digital trails everywhere.
The problem, of course, is that the government always sets its sights higher.
It wasn’t long before the government’s search for criminal “birds of a feather”—made much easier with the passage of the USA Patriot Act—lumped everyone together and treated all of the birds (i.e., the public) as criminals to be identified, tracked, monitored and subjected to warrantless, suspicionless surveillance.
Fast forward to the present moment when, on any given day, the average American is now monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways by both government and corporate eyes and ears.
Every second of every day, the American people are being spied on by the U.S. government’s vast network of digital Peeping Toms, electronic eavesdroppers and robotic snoops.
Whether you’re walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency is listening in and tracking you. This doesn’t even begin to touch on the complicity of the corporate sector, which buys and sells us from cradle to grave, until we have no more data left to mine. These corporate trackers monitor your purchases, web browsing, Facebook posts and other activities taking place in the cyber sphere and share the data with the government.
Just about every branch of the government—from the Postal Service to the Treasury Department and every agency in between—now has its own surveillance sector, authorized to collect data and spy on the American people. Then there are the fusion and counterterrorism centers that gather all of the data from the smaller government spies—the police, public health officials, transportation, etc.—and make it accessible for all those in power.
These government snoops are constantly combing through and harvesting vast quantities of our communications, then storing it in massive databases for years. Once this information—collected illegally and without any probable cause—is ingested into NSA servers, other government agencies can often search through the databases to make criminal cases against Americans that have nothing to do with terrorism or anything national security-related. One Justice Department lawyer called the database the “FBI’s ‘Google.’”
In other words, the NSA, an unaccountable institution filled with unelected bureaucrats, operates a massive database that contains the intimate and personal communications of countless Americans and makes it available to other unelected bureaucrats.
Talk about a system rife for abuse.
Ask the government why it’s carrying out this warrantless surveillance on American citizens, and you’ll get the same Orwellian answer the government has been trotting out since 9/11 to justify its assaults on our civil liberties: to keep America safe.
Yet warrantless mass surveillance by the government and its corporate cohorts hasn’t made America any safer. And it certainly isn’t helping to preserve our freedoms. Frankly, America will never be safe as long as the U.S. government is allowed to shred the Constitution.
Now the government wants us to believe that we have nothing to fear from its mass spying program because they’re only looking to get the “bad” guys who are overseas.
Don’t believe it.
The government’s definition of a “bad” guy is extraordinarily broad, and it results in the warrantless surveillance of innocent, law-abiding Americans on a staggering scale. They are conducting this mass surveillance without a warrant, thus violating the core principles of the Fourth Amendment which protects the privacy of all Americans.
Warrantless mass surveillance of American citizens is wrong, un-American, and unconstitutional.
Clearly, the outlook for reforming the government’s unconstitutional surveillance programs does not look good.
As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, whenever the rights of the American people are pitted against the interests of the military/corporate/security complex, “we the people” lose. Unless Congress develops a conscience—or suddenly remembers that they owe their allegiance to the citizenry and not the corporate state—we’re about to lose big.
It’s time to let Section 702 expire or reform the law to ensure that millions and millions of Americans are not being victimized by a government that no longer respects its constitutional limits.
Mark my words: if Congress votes to make the NSA’s vast spying powers permanent, it will be yet another brick in the wall imprisoning us within an electronic concentration camp from which there is no escape.
More articles by:
John W. Whitehead is the president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People.

Jewish-Israeli Autism


Jewish-Israeli Autism. 





Bantoestans in Midden-Oosten


Eén Palestijnse staat? Welnee: tien Palestijnse ‘thuislanden’

Onderzoek door de New York Times werpt licht op het vredesplan dat de regering-Trump voor de Palestijnen in petto heeft. De tweestatenoplossing blijkt daarin vervangen door het Israëlische ‘bantoestan-scenario’.

President Trump arriveert in Riyadh, waar hij wordt ontvangen door de Saudische kroonprins Muhammad bin Salman, 20 mei 2017. Riyadh was Trumps eerste buitenlandse reisdoel, ten teken van het belang van Saudi-Arabië in de Amerikaanse plannen.Shealah Craighead 
Een bezoek van de Palestijnse president Mahmud Abbas aan Saudi-Arabië blijkt bedoeld te zijn geweest om hem het Amerikaanse vredesplan door de strot te duwen. Dat plan, nog niet officieel bekendgemaakt maar beschreven door The New York Times, lijkt in niets op de door de wereld nagestreefde tweestatenoplossing, maar in alles op het door Israël gewenste ‘bantoestan-scenario’. De Palestijnen wacht een toekomst in ‘thuislanden’.

Tocht naar Canossa

Begin november werd Mahmud Abbas, president van de Palestijnse Autoriteit (PA), naar de Saudische hoofdstad Riyadh ontboden door Muhammad bin Salman, kroonprins en feitelijk machthebber van Saudi-Arabië. Aanvankelijk werd dat verplichte bezoek in verband gebracht met een bezoek dat vertegenwoordigers van Hamas aflegden aan de Iraanse hoofdstad Teheran. Iran wordt door Saudi-Arabië beschouwd als aartsvijand. Verwacht werd dat Abbas orders in ontvangst zou nemen die moesten leiden tot een blijvend isolement van Hamas.
Half november werd echter door diverse media bericht dat Abbas’ bezoek aan Riyadh een ultieme tocht naar Canossa is geweest. Inderdaad kreeg hij de instructie om Hamas op afstand te plaatsen, maar bovendien kreeg hij van Bin Salman de contouren van het aanstaande Amerikaanse vredesplan te horen – de outline voor vrede tussen Palestijnen en Israëli’s. Dat was nog niet alles: naar verluidt heeft Abbas twee maanden de tijd gekregen om er zijn handtekening onder te zetten, of anders plaats te maken voor een welwillender president.

Nieuwe orde

Kort voordat Abbas zijn opwachting maakte bij Bin Salman bezocht Jared Kushner Riyadh. Kushner, schoonzoon en adviseur van de Amerikaanse president Trump, heeft de leiding over het Amerikaanse team dat het vredesplan ontwerpt. Kushner en Bin Salman zijn dertigers en naar verluidt soulmates, van wie duidelijk is geworden dat zij de ambitie hebben om nieuwe realiteiten te scheppen in het Midden-Oosten.
Centraal in de nieuwe orde die zij voor ogen hebben staat de samenwerking tussen de Verenigde Staten (VS), Saudi-Arabië en Israël, aangevuld met onder meer de Verenigde Arabische Emiraten (VAE). De vijand is Iran, met partners als Qatar en proxies als het Libanese Hizbullah in zijn kielzog.
De strijd tussen die blokken is inmiddels langs diverse fronten zichtbaar geworden. Zo is door een aantal Arabische landen getracht Qatar in een isolement te dwingen, en probeerde Bin Salman tevergeefs de Libanese premier Hariri af te zetten om daarmee Hizbullah te isoleren. Trump van zijn kant trok zich terug uit de VN-organisatie UNESCO als zijnde ‘anti-Israël’, en maakte zich op om het nucleaire akkoord met Iran op te zeggen; het is nu aan het Congres om te bepalen of de VS dat verdrag naleeft of in de huidige vorm opzegt.
Het slechte nieuws voor de Palestijnen is dat zij in deze nieuwe orde tot bijzaak zijn gedegradeerd. Onder het huidige gesternte krijgen zij een – in de woorden van Trump – ultimate deal opgelegd die afkomstig is van de Israëlische tekentafels. Vermoedelijk hebben we afgelopen week – met de Amerikaanse erkenning van Jeruzalem als hoofdstad van Israël – de eerste contour van die deal gezien.

De ‘ultimate deal’

Inmiddels is veel bekend geworden over hetgeen Mahmud Abbas begin november in Riyadh kreeg meegedeeld. Een week geleden publiceerde The New York Times een artikel met een groot aantal details, ontleend aan goed-geïnformeerde bronnen. De VS en Saudi-Arabië hebben de door de Times gepubliceerde details overigens ontkend.
Volgens de bronnen van de Times bestaat de Palestijnse ‘staat’ in de ultimate deal uit een aantal niet op elkaar aangesloten gebieden op de Westelijke Jordaanoever, plus Gaza – gebieden waarover de Palestijnen een ‘gelimiteerde soevereiniteit’ krijgen. Oost-Jeruzalem wordt Israëlisch, en verreweg de meeste illegale Israëlische kolonies (‘nederzettingen’) in bezet Palestina blijven bestaan. Het recht van terugkeer van de verdreven en gevluchte Palestijnen wordt hen definitief ontzegd.
Volgens de Times zijn – in samenhang met de toezegging van Oost-Jeruzalem aan de Israëli’s – ook suggesties gedaan voor de locatie van een nieuwe Palestijnse hoofdstad. Die zou gevestigd kunnen worden in het Palestijnse stadje Abu Dis. Dat ligt op een steenworp afstand van Oost-Jeruzalem, maar wordt er door de Afscheidingsmuur van gescheiden.

Bantoestan-scenario

Dit ‘vredesplan’ lijkt in niets op de tweestatenoplossing die door de Israëli’s en Palestijnen onder de Oslo-akkoorden werd overeengekomen. De deal die Trump volgens de Times gaat presenteren staat bekend als het ‘bantoestan-scenario’ – een verwijzing naar de versnipperde ‘thuislanden’ voor de zwarte bevolking onder het Zuid-Afrikaanse Apartheidsbewind. Dat scenario weerspiegelt de door Israël gewenste ‘oplossing van het Palestijnse probleem’.
Heeft een dergelijk vredesplan kans van slagen? Die vraag is overbodig. De Palestijnen zijn er niet in gekend, en zullen het gegarandeerd afwijzen. Evenmin is het gebaseerd op de internationaalrechtelijke criteria die door de wereldgemeenschap worden gehanteerd. Dergelijke criteria doen er voor Israël en zijn bondgenoten niet toe. Voor hen draait alles om het creëren van voldongen feiten, van facts on the ground, een proces waarbij alleen het recht van de sterkste geldt. Die strategie heeft altijd gewerkt.
De resterende vraag is in hoeverre de door de Times gepubliceerde outline overeenkomt met het nog niet gepresenteerde Amerikaanse plan. De tegenvraag is op grond waarvan nog op iets anders kan worden gerekend. De erkenning van Jeruzalem, afgelopen week door president Trump, lijkt voor de Palestijnen een voorbode voor nog aanzienlijk groter onheil. Als niemand ingrijpt, overkomt het hen gewoon.

Tom Engelhardt 271

December 14, 2017
Tomgram: Nick Turse, A Wider World of War
[Note for TomDispatch Readers: We’ve come to that moment again.  You know, the one at year's end when I ask all of you for money to keep this website afloat.  It’s hell to do (and no fun to read I’m sure), but your contributions do truly keep us going.  I’ve written an end-of-year funding letter to all TomDispatchsubscribers that begins this way: “If you just heard a deep sigh, that was me. Right now, if we're not in the world from hell, then where the hell are we? You know perfectly well what I think about it all, as I write weekly at TomDispatch on that president, those wars, those plutocrats, and the environmental crisis that's going to make our grandchildren's world, the one I will have long left, a potential nightmare of the first order.” It includes, of course, the necessary plea for donations. If you’re not a TD subscriber but visit this site regularly, you can click here to read my whole letter. Or you can just go directly to the TD donation page and contribute if the mood strikes you. In return for a $100 donation -- $125 if you live outside the U.S. -- you can choose a signed, personalized copy of any volume from a selection of Dispatch Books and others as a token of our thanks. Tom]

Ambassadors of the traditional kind? Who needs them? Diplomats? What a waste! The State Department? Why bother? Its budget is to be slashed and its senior officials are leaving in droves ever since Donald Trump entered the Oval Office. Under Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, hiring is frozen, which means those officials are generally not being replaced.  (Buyouts of $25,000 are being offered to get yet more of them to jump ship.) Dozens of key positions have gone unfilled, while the secretary of state reportedly focuses not on global diplomacy or what, in another age, was called “foreign policy,” but on his reorganization (downsizing) of the department and evidently little else.  Across the planet, starting with the A’s (Australia), American embassies lack ambassadors, including South Korea, a country that has been a focus of the Trump administration.  Similarly, at the time of the president’s inflammatory Jerusalem announcement, the U.S. had no ambassadors yet in Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, or Saudi Arabia, among other Middle Eastern states.  It’s quite a tale and it’s being covered as the news story it certainly is.

All of this could be seen, however, not just as the foibles of one president surrounded by “his” generals, but as the culmination of a post-9/11 process in which American policymaking has increasingly been militarized.  In this context, as the State Department shrinks, don’t think this country has no ambassadors across the planet.   America’s Special Operations forces increasingly act as our “diplomats” globally, training and bolstering allies and attempting to undermine enemies more or less everywhere.  We’ve never seen anything like it and yet, unlike the slashing of the diplomatic corps, it’s a story barely noted in the mainstream. Nick Turse has, however, been covering it for TomDispatch in a groundbreaking way since 2011.  In these years, he’s focused on what should have been seen as one of the major developments of our era: the phenomenal growth and historically unprecedented deployment of this country’s special operators in an atmosphere of permanent war in Washington.

In the post-9/11 years, the once “elite” units of the U.S. military, perhaps a few thousand Green Berets and other personnel, have become a force of approximately 70,000.  In other words, that secretive crew cocooned inside the U.S. military has grown as large as or larger than the militaries of countries such as Argentina, Canada, Chile, Croatia, South Africa, or Sweden.  Now, imagine that those Special Operations forces, as Turse has again been reporting for years, are not only being dispatched to more countries annually than ever before, but to more countries than any nation has ever deployed its military personnel to. Period.

Shouldn’t that be a humongous story?  We’re talking, as Turse points out today, about the deployment of special ops teams or personnel to 149 of the 190 (or so) nations on this planet in 2017.  You can, of course, find articles about our special operators in the media, but over the years they’ve generally tended to read like so many publicity releases for such forces. The story of how our special operators came to be our “diplomats” of choice and the spearhead for American foreign policy and how expanding wars and spreading terror movements were the apparent result of such moves has yet to be told, except at places like TomDispatchTom
Donald Trump’s First Year Sets Record for U.S. Special Ops 
Elite Commandos Deployed to 149 Countries in 2017 
By Nick Turse
“We don’t know exactly where we’re at in the world, militarily, and what we’re doing,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, in October.  That was in the wake of the combat deaths of four members of the Special Operations forces in the West African nation of Niger.  Graham and other senators expressed shock about the deployment, but the global sweep of America’s most elite forces is, at best, an open secret.
Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Arctic Report Card Shows Transition Toward Not-Normal Polar Environment Continues

NOAA’s 2017 Arctic Report Card Shows Transition Toward Not-Normal Polar Environment Continues

The Arctic shows no sign of returning to the reliably frozen region of recent past decades.— NOAA
Reading this [Arctic Report Card], I feel physically sick. I feel so anxious. I’m not sure how many more years or months I’m going to be able to work daily on climate change. — Eric Holthaus
*****
During 2017, the Arctic experienced much warmer than normal winter and fall temperatures. Meanwhile, according to NOAA’s 2017 Arctic Report Card, somewhat cool late spring and early summer temperatures did little to abate a larger ongoing warming trend.
NOAA notes:
The average surface air temperature for the year ending September 2017 is the 2nd warmest since 1900; however, cooler spring and summer temperatures contributed to a rebound in snow cover in the Eurasian Arctic, slower summer sea ice loss, and below-average melt extent for the Greenland ice sheet.
(NOAA’s Arctic Report Card shows a Polar environment experiencing serious and harmful changes.)
This warming trend was evidenced by continued systemic long term sea ice losses with NOAA stating that sea ice cover has continued to thin even as older, thicker ice comprised only 21 percent of Arctic Ocean coverage compared to 45 percent during 1985.  NOAA noted very slow Chukchi and Barents sea ice re-freeze during fall of 2017 — which was a feature of much warmer than typical sea surface temperatures during late August. Temperatures which ranged up to 4 C above average for this time of year and that created a kind of heat barrier to typical fall ice cover expansion.
Sea ice is a primary indicator of Arctic health. But losses over recent decades have been quite precipitious as indicated by the graph below:
Sea Ice Coverage Loss
(Arctic sea ice loss since 1978 during September [red] and March [black]. Image source: NOAA.)
NOAA also found evidence of ongoing increases in ocean productivity in the far north — which tends to be triggered by increasing temperature and rising ocean carbon uptake (also a driver of acidification).
(Changes in Arctic ground temperature [20 meter depth] at varying locations shows widespread movement toward permafrost thaw. Image source: NOAA.)
Tundra greening trends also continued over broad regions:
Long-term trends (1982-2016) show greening on the North Slope of Alaska, the southern Canadian tundra, and in the central Siberian tundra; tundra browning is found in western Alaska (Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta), the higher-Arctic Canadian Archipelago, and western Siberian tundra.
Rapid warming of the Arctic, loss of sea ice, permafrost thaw, greening tundra, changes in ocean productivity and other factors are all starting to seriously impact the people of the Arctic. Coastal towns have been forced to move inland due to erosion and sea level rise. And a number of communities have lost access to key food sources due to sea ice loss or migration of local species away from warming regions. Subsidence has generated harmful impacts to infrastructure. Meanwhile, the increased incidence of Arctic wildfires presents a rising hazard to Northern Communities:
High latitude fire regimes appear to be responding rapidly to environmental changes associated with a warming climate; although highly variable, area burned has increased over the past several decades in much of Boreal North America. Most acreage burned in high latitude systems occurs during sporadic periods when lightning ignitions coincide with warm and dry weather that cures vegetation and elevates fire danger. Under a range of climate change scenarios, analyses using multiple approaches project significant increases (up to four-fold) in area burned in high latitude ecosystems by the end of the 21st century.
Taken together this is tough news — a technical report written in the lingo of science but that, in broad brush, describes evidence of a world fundamentally changed. For those of us with sensitive hearts, it’s a rough thing to write about:
Reading this, I feel physically sick. I feel so anxious. I'm not sure how many more years or months I'm going to be able to work daily on climate change. Today is one of those days.
Overall, NOAA calls for increased efforts to adapt to climate change in the far north. In addition, the need for mitigating harms from climate change by speeding a transfer to renewable energy could help to preserve cryosystems and ecosystems that are now under increasingly severe threat.