Tales of Future Past v2

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Weather Control

Future Living

And now let's indulge in a spot of crazed megalomania and start mucking about with the weather. I mean, why not play God for bit?  Go ahead; flood the Sahara, melt the ice caps. What harm could it do?

The idea of controlling the weather goes back to the 1920s when the space pioneer Hermann Oberth came up with a scheme for placing giant mirrors measuring 100 miles in diameter in Earth orbit to reflect the Sun's rays back on the planet. Not only would it provide a cumbersome substitute for street lighting, but by using a fleet of ten mirrors in concert Oberth planned to warm the sub-polar regions and eliminate seasonal temperature extremes.  

It was a plan that Hugo Gernsback got behind in a second and the creator of scientifiction swooned at the thought of "perpetual spring over the entire world." Of course, Oberth pointed out that such a mirror was also one heck of a weapon, as any James Bond fan can tell you, but if the odd city faces incineration in the name of progress, who am I to object?

In the 1933, Hugo Gernsback, not satisfied with space mirrors, published this quaint little idea for giving the interior of the United States a more equitable climate: Build a huge bank of solar power stations to pump seawater through gigantic tunnels and flood most of the southwestern states so that the water could evaporate and raise the continent's humidity a bit.

Also the ire of everyone from Carson City, Nevada to Salt Lake City, Utah when you explain that their homes are going to be ten feet underwater.

After the Second World War, some scientists felt that what with splitting the atom and all, harnessing the forces of nature should be a snap. The American government started looking keenly at the idea of controlling the weather and were soon displaying the sort of confidence that might make one think they were talking about building an ornamental pond instead of climate engineering with the chief White House adviser on weather modification, Captain Howard T. Orville, saying that the US defence department was studying "ways to manipulate the charges of the Earth and sky and so affect the weather by using an electronic beam to ionise or de-ionise the atmosphere over a given area." Nothing to it.  Flip a switch and Hey Presto; summer days on command.

A more sober approach came in  1962 with the start of Project Stormfury, which for the next eighteen years tried to control the path and force of hurricanes by strategic cloud seeding. This had some promising early results, but hurricanes proved to be as about as predictable as a toddler's moods, so it never came to much, although projects like this did act as the inspiration for the Walt Disney short Eyes in Space.

This documentary  predicted a global weather control network that operated like a combination NASA, Coastal Command, and Dan Dare headquarters with lots of grim square-jawed types bending intently over view screens in an ultra-modern command centre as they ordered fleets of cool robot planes, missile batteries, and space stations to wage war against in-coming typhoons in a proto-Gerry Anderson technofest.

Which is as the future should be.

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