Having last week covered the High Altitude Research Program (HARP), it’s a little ironic that HAARP - no relation - should hit the news this week.
One of the wonderful facets of the WMD world is the fact that, every now and then, the monotony of assessed contributions and allocation of inspection man-hours gets a good shake-up by crazies coming out of the woodwork. A few years ago I spent 90 minutes on the phone with a gentleman who was convinced that a plague of hermaphroditic crabs in the Bras-d’Or Lakes had been caused by the “Nazi submarine full of nerve gas” that DND had deliberately sunk in Sydney Bight in 1945. “Chemtrails”, “Red Mercury” and other delights resurface every few years. It happened again this week, when Andrei Areshev, the Deputy Director of Moscow’s “Strategic Culture Foundation”, published an article stating that “climate weapons” are becoming viable and “may be used to provoke droughts, erase crops, and induce various anomalous phenomena in certain countries.”
The comments were quickly picked up by news agencies in Russia (including “International Affairs”, a journal co-published by the Russian Foreign Ministry and RIA-Novosti). It’s not surprising that the article struck a chord with the author’s fellow Muscovites; Russia west of the Urals has been suffering record high (although not anomalous) temperatures for the past several months. The culprit, according to Areshev, is HAARP - the High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, a cooperative experimental atmospheric research project shared by the US DoD and the University of Alaska.
HAARP is an ionospheric research project the goal of which is to improve communications and surveillance technologies. Due in large part to its obscurity, however, and also to the relative isolation of the facility (and the mysterious appearance of its high-frequency antenna array), HAARP has long been what one journalist has called “the Moby Dick of conspiracy theories”. According to various sources, HAARP is supposedly based on the work of noted 19th Century science eccentric Nikola Tesla, and has been used by the US military to generate floods, droughts, thunderstorms, hurricanes and earthquakes, and even to generate localized ground tremors in Afghanistan and the Philippines intended ”to shake up terrorists”. David Naiditch, a computer scientist who collects and debunks such theories, notes that HAARP has also been blamed for “major power outages, the downing of TWA Flight 800, Gulf War Syndrome and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.” HAARP has also been blamed for earthquakes in China, Chile and Haiti. In the latter case, the allegations were aired by Venezuela’s state-run broadcaster, in conjunction with a statement by Hugo Chavez (reported in the Spanish media) accusing the US of “playing God” by testing weapons capable ofcausing eco-catastrophes; the Spanish link is unfortunately broken]. HAARP has also been called “a death beam” and has been accused of being capable of “flipping the poles” and “capsizing the planet”. Not surprisingly, it even earned a one-line mention in an episode of “The X-Files”.
Other sources have linked HAARP with alleged research into weapons designed to generate an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that is supposedly capable of sending technologically dependent societies back into the Stone Age by disabling and/or destroying modern electronics. Even if such a thing were possible without the high-altitude detonation of a high-yield nuclear weapon (something that might be inadvisable to try with the US, given that America’s strategic retaliatory capability has been EMP-hardened since the 1960s), in view of the fact that modern microcircuits were not widely incorporated into everyday items before the 1980s, the practical effect of such a weapon would be to send society only about as far back as the Disco Era. If such a weapon is ever used, one hopes that we will be able to return to manual typewriters, Tab and the Pinto without also witnessing the renaissance of paisley bell-bottoms, primal scream therapy and Laugh-In.
To his credit, Areshev’s article did not focus solely on HAARP; he also alleged that the US X-37B unmanned aerial vehicle, which was successfully test-flown in April of this year, carries “laser weaponry” that makes it a “key component in the Pentagon’s climate change arsenal.” The Pentagon, perhaps not surprisingly, declined to comment on any of Areshev’s allegations. Interestingly, when challenged to defend those allegations, Areshev appeared to backpedal, stating “First of all, I would like to say that what I wrote in that article, even the citations, does not in any way claim to be final truth. It is, if you will, speculation, in other words, the definition of an hypothesis.” An hypothesis, apparently, that it’s possible to use airborne lasers and megawatt-range dipole antennas in Alaska to control rainfall and the temperature in Moscow.
Oddly, there’s a kernal of truth in Areshev’s cornucopia of crazy. HAARP archives its data online, here. One of the archives contains magnetometer readings. The HAARP magnetometer recorded the massive magnetic surge produced by the solar mass ejection (SME) that struck Earth about two weeks ago, producing a magnificent aurora borealis that was visible from the mid-US states.
The spike in the magnetic flux around 4 August is easily visible. What’s interesting is what you see when you compare these magnetometer readings to the data from the Moscow Neutron Observatory for the same period. At the same time the magnetic storm was striking Earth, 4 August, the cosmic ray flux plummeted, and took nearly two weeks to return to its pre-CME level.
This phenomenon is central to the low-cloud nucleation by galactic cosmic radiation thesis posited by Henrik Svensmark as the key mechanism explaining the close correlation between changes in GCR flux brought about changes in solar activity, and changes in average global temperature.
The chart is of particular interest. The upper panel shows changes in tropospheric temperature (blue) against changes in cosmic radiation (red). The bottom panel shows the same data, but with the removal from the temperature record of El Nino, the North Atlantic Oscillation, the effect on temperature of volcanic aerosols, and a small linear trend. The resulting match-up of the data curves clearly demonstrates a close correlation between cosmic radiation levels and average global temperature over the past 50 years.
In other words, the HAARP magnetometer readings may be taken in conjunction with the Moscow Neutron Observatory readings as prima facie evidence of the relationship between solar activity and galactic cosmic radiation flux, demonstrating the mechanism posited by Svensmark as an explanation for the correlation between solar activity and average global temperature.
So I suppose you could say that, after all is said and done, Areshev was right. HAARP really does have something to do with climate change, if only through the utility of its data for helping to demonstrate the plausibility of the Svensmark thesis. It’s not quite weather-changing, death-beaming or pole-flipping, but I suppose it’s better than nothing.
For those interested in more information on HAARP, I recommend the program’s official website (which of course, if the conspiracy theorists are correct, may be nothing but a tissue of propaganda designed to conceal the terrible truth). It can be found here [http://www.haarp.alaska.edu/].
This piece by Sharon Weinberger is also worth a read. If you’re interested in a more scientific take, try this.