Fixing the Sky

Storm. Image courtest of Flickr user powanzy.

Image courtesy of Flickr user powazny.

A headline I came across yesterday read "Abu Dhabi Scientists Create Desert Rainstorms." According to the article, the storms were part of a secret project named Weathertec that "utilized ionizers resembling giant lampshades to generate fields of negatively charged particles, which create cloud formation." One hope is that this project will provide water to areas suffering from drought.

Shocking new development? Not exactly. Humans have been manipulating the weather for centuries to aid in farming, climate control, and even war. In the summer issue of Chemical Heritage, historian Jim Fleming provided a history of these climate engineering efforts—and a warning on the risks of tinkering with nature in such a way.

Regarding attempts to "fix the sky," as he calls it, Fleming warns: "Geoengineering is in fact untested and dangerous. We don’t understand it; we can’t test it on smaller than planetary scales; and we don’t have the political capital, wisdom, or will to govern it."

Nonetheless, efforts continue to implement it.


Posted In: History | Policy | Technology

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