I herewith invite you to our next seminar, which will take place in a week.
Currently, the issue of man-made global warming is a major concern, to say
the least. In this situation, it seems particularly relevant to learn about
cases where changes in the weather were not only man-made, but actually
intended as such.
I look forward to seeing you again!
Niels Bohr Archive
History of Science Seminar
Monday 9 November 2009, 14.15
Aud. A, Niels Bohr Institute
Blegdamsvej 17, Copenhagen
Kristine C. Harper
Department of History, Florida State University
"Weather by Design: State Control of the Atmosphere in 20th Century America"
In the science-and-technology-can-fix-anything euphoria of the immediate
post-World War II era, politicians and not a few scientists became convinced
that the time to control nature was at hand. Most of these projects – even
the massive irrigation projects in the semi-arid American West – were local.
However, because the atmosphere knows no boundaries, one of these nature
control projects was very international and carried serious political,
military, diplomatic, legal, ethical, and societal implications: weather
Following the first successful modern-day experiments to trigger
precipitation in 1946, and despite inconclusive results from a variety of
weather control projects, a number of constituencies (with their unique
weather needs) encouraged the race toward weather control: the military
(non-polluting weapon), the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (water on demand),
the U.S. Forest Service (lightning control and natural fire suppression),
the State Department (means to curry favor with particular nations), and
members of Congress (to bring home the water–or whatever weather their
districts needed). Tens of millions of dollars poured into research and
development for weather control techniques to disperse fog, mitigate hail,
suppress hurricanes, and make rain. By the 1960s, weather modification was
being used as a secret weapon in Vietnam and Laos, and an equally secret
U.S.-led diplomatic tool in drought-ridden India and Pakistan, while farmers
in the West spent millions of dollars for cloud seeding efforts intended to
make the desert bloom and augment snow packs to guarantee cheap
hydroelectric power. As the climate changes, the global population
increases, and the availability of sufficient quantities of freshwater
wanes, it is important to understand how state use of weather control
influenced its use in the past and may come to influence its use in the future.
Niels Bohr Archive
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