Weaponizing the Weather

Jacob Darwin Hamblin has an essay up on Salon titled, “We Tried to Weaponize the Weather.” He writes:

The years between the first hydrogen bomb tests and the Limited Test Ban Treaty in 1963 saw more than just increased anxiety about the effects of nuclear testing on weather. They also saw increased interest in large-scale, purposeful environmental modification. Most climate modification enthusiasts spoke of increasing global temperatures, in the hopes that this would increase the quantity of cultivated land and make for fairer weather. Some suggested blackening deserts or snowy areas, to increase absorption of radiation. Covering large areas with carbon dust, so the theory went, would raise temperatures. Alternatively, if several hydrogen bombs were exploded underwater, they might evaporate seawater and create an ice cloud that would block the escape of radiation. Meteorologist Harry Wexler had little patience for those who wanted to add weather and climate modification to the set of tools in man’s possession. But by 1958 even he acknowledged that serious proposals for massive changes, using nuclear weapons as tools, were inevitable. Like most professional meteorologists, in the past he had dismissed the idea that hydrogen bombs had affected the weather. But with the prospect of determined experiments designed to bring about such changes, he warned of “the unhappy situation of the cure being worse than the ailment.”

Oh the things we’re learning about the terrible ideas people had during the first nuclear age.