Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Control of Weather - Do we want to go there?

The History Channel just had a program dealing with human control of weather, and with a special emphasis on the weaponizing of weather. I only caught the last few minutes and therefore missed the details of the show, but for decades there have been serious scientists, military leaders, and politicians all the way up to the White House (including discussions in the Johnson, Nixon and Bush II administrations), who have contemplated ways to use the weather as a weapon. This progressed up to the point where militar leaders predict by 2025 the U.S. Air Force will have control of weather, and one can contemplate wars that consist of hitting a country with a 'natural disaster' that cripples the enemy country without needing a single shot from more conventional weapons being fired. This would also allow the country that made the attack to have plausible deniability, since they could claim that the weather event was an act of God, and one of those natural weather anomalies that cannot be predicted nor controlled.

There is an article in the Spring, 2007 Wilson Quarterly which summarizes the history of this concept of controlling weather. The formal name is climate engineering. My worry is our lack of knowledge of complex systems, and the numerous unintended consequences that could be realized. The fact that we are unable to predict weather more than a couple days in advance is evidence of our ignorance of global complex systems. Weather is not a local phenomenon, but is instead linked to what the atmosphere and oceans and cosmic environments are doing. We would be playing with proverbial fire, IMO. There is much to learn.

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