Diapositive 1 - Chemtrails: The Exotic Weapon

A historical perspective on
atmospheric engineering.
A periodization.
Régis Briday
PhD Student at Centre Alexandre Koyré
PhD Supervisors: Amy Dahan (Centre Alexandre Koyré) & Sophie
Godin-Beekmann (LATMOS)
Definitions of GE:
 David Keith: “Geoengineering is defined as intentional large-scale manipulation of the
environment. Scale and intent play central roles in the definition.”
“As we will see, the definition of geoengineering is ambiguous, and the distinction between
geoengineering and other responses to climate change is of degree, not of kind. Three core
attributes will serve as markers of geoengineering: scale, intent, and the degree to which the
action is a countervailing measure.” Keith, 2000, pp. 247
 Royal Society: Geoengineering is “the deliberate large-scale manipulation of the planetary
environment to counteract anthropogenic climate change” Royal Society, 2009, p. 1.
=> GE usually refers to intentional in situ modifications of some important
parameters of the global environment and especially of global climate, which
appeals to Industry.
GE between 1890 and 1940
GE between 1940 and 1965
GE between 1965 and 1990
GE between 1990 and 2012
1) 1890-1940
a: A radiative definition of the atmosphere
Mid-19th century definition for climate
At the beginning of 19th century, the concept of “climate” refers to
“the whole set of dynamical processes, which produces the character of a specific place:
precipitations, pressure, winds, emanations, topography, soils, water, vegetation, light,
electricity, smokes, etc.” Fressoz & Locher, 2010
From the end of the 19th century on, a Radiative definition of climate:
“In the middle decades of the nineteenth century John Tyndall (1820-1893), … established
beyond a doubt that the radiative properties of water vapor and carbon dioxide were
significant factors in explaining meteorological phenomena such as the formation of dew,
the energy of the solar spectrum, and, possibly, the variation of climates over geological
“The carbon dioxide content of human lungs and in regional air samples was also a focus of
Tyndall’s investigations. On a more cosmic level, Tyndall thought that changes in the amount
of any of the radiatively active constituents of the atmosphere – water vapor, carbon
dioxide, ozone, or hydrocarbons – could have produced “all the mutations of climate which
the researches of geologists reveal… they constitute true causes, the extent alone of the
operation remaining doubtful. Tyndall gave credit to his predecessors, including
Joseph Fourier, for the intuition that “the rays from the sun and fixed stars could reach the
earth through the atmosphere more easily than the rays emanating from the earth could get
back to space”.” Fleming, 2007(c)
1) 1890-1940
b: Two main technological trajectories for global climate modification
Brahic Catherine, 2009, “Geoengineering weighed up” (Figure), “Earth’s Plan B” (Article), New Scientist, 2009,
“Earth 2099. How to survive the century”, n°2697 (28 February 2009), p. 10.
1) 1890-1940
c: Favorable, “positivist” social context for deliberate global warming
• A Positivist ideology
Harvard Geologist Nathaniel Shaler, proposing to melt the Arctic ice cap by channeling more of
the warm Kuroshio Current through the Bering Strait: “Whenever the Alaskan gates to the
pole are unbarred, the whole of the ice-cap of the circumpolar regions must at once melt
away; all the plants of the northern continents, now kept in narrow bounds by the arctic
cold, would begin their march towards the pole. … It is not too much to say that the lifesustaining power of the lands north of forty degrees of latitude would be doubled by the
breaking down of the barrier which cuts off the Japanese current from the pole”.” Shaler
Nathaniel, 1877, “How to Change the North American Climate”, Atlantic Monthly, December
1877, pp. 724-731 in Fleming, 2010, p. 401
• CO2 becomes an agent for climate modification and for crop production
• Fossil fuel burning, a safe way of positively modifying climate
 No inquiry on large-scale ecosystems such as ocean ecosystems (the
ocean was only a sink that could take CO2 up);
 Very few atmospheric scientists were involved in the production of an
expertise on air pollution or paid attention to this issue.
1) 1900-1940
d: Political and scientific limits to global warming venture
• Epistemological and technical limits to climate control: the
long scales of scientists and geoengineers
• Political limits to climate control: belligerent states have
different and shorter-scale goals
2) 1940-1965
a: The apogee of weather and climate modification within the
“military-industrial-scientific complex”
Unlimited funding of local scale experiments during WWII and the post-war
decades’ civil and military weather modification programmes
“By the 1950s, the Pentagon had “convened a committee to study the development of a Cold War weather
weapon. It was hoped that cloud seeding could be used surreptitiously to release the violence of the
atmosphere against an enemy, tame the winds in the service of an all-weather air force, or, on a larger
scale, perhaps disrupt (or improve) the agricultural economy of nations and alter the global climate for
strategic purposes. Military planners generated strategic scenarios such as hindering the enemy’s military
campaigns by causing heavy rains or snows to fall along lines of troop movement and on vital airfields, or
using controlled precipitation as a delivery system for biological and radiological agents. Tactical
possibilities included dissipating cloud decks to enable visual bombing attacks on targets, opening
airfields closed by low clouds or fog, and relieving aircraft icing.” Fleming, 2007(a), pp. 52-55
Turning climate into a weapon. The power of the Bomb.
Three belligerent GE possibilities exposed by Wexler in 1962:
 To increase the global temperature of the Earth by 1.7°C, “by injecting a cloud of ice crystals
into the polar atmosphere by detonating 10 H-bombs in the Arctic Ocean – the subject of his
1958 article in Science magazine” (Wexler H., 1958, “Modifying Weather on a Large Scale,”
Science, n.s. 128 (Oct. 31, 1958): 1059-1063).
 To diminish the global temperature by 1.2°C could be doable, “by launching a ring of dust
particles into equatorial orbit, a modification of an earlier Russian proposal to warm the Arctic”.
 To destroy the ozone layer and hence increase abruptly the surface temperature of the Earth,
by spraying “several hundred thousand tons of chlorine or bromine” with a stratospheric
airplane. Fleming, 2007(a), pp. 56-57; Fleming, 2007(b), “note n° viii” p. 9 & p. 5
2) 1940-1965
b: Strategic and utopian purposes of geoengineering in the 1950s-60s.
Atmospheric engineering in political and diplomatic arenas
Military intelligence, nuclear deterrence and scientific peaceful cooperation
In his 1962 speech to meteorologists “on the Possibilities of Weather Control”, Harry Wexler cites “Soviet
premier Nikita Khrushchev’s mention of weather control in an address to the Supreme Soviet …. In a
1961 speech to the United Nations , President John F. Kennedy proposed “cooperative efforts between
all nations in weather prediction and eventually in weather control.” Fleming, 2007(a), p. 57
• To bring Prosperity to Mankind: Global Utopias and political domination
“Climate fears, fantasies, and the possibility of global climate control were widely
discussed by scientists and in the popular press in the third quarter of the
twentieth century. Some chemists, physicists, mathematicians, and, yes,
meteorologists tried to “interfere” with natural processes, not with dry ice or silver
iodide but with new Promethean possibilities of climate tinkering opened up by
the technologies of digital computing, satellite remote sensing, nuclear power,
and atmospheric nuclear testing. Aspects of this story involve engineers’ pipe
dreams of mega-construction projects that would result in an ice-free
Arctic Ocean, a well-regulated Mediterranean Sea, or an electrified and wellwatered Africa. Along with “weaponizing” the climate, pundits also fantasized
about engineering it.” Fleming, 2010, p. 189
Terraforming Mars and Venus (Terraforming is “the engineering of planetary
environments so that they can support life”)
3) 1965-1990
a: Weather modification rejection:
Technological Failures and Cultural Shift
• Technological failure of atmospheric engineering
“Cloud seeding apparently can augment “orographic” precipitation (which falls on the windward
side of mountains) by up to 10 percent. It is also possible to clear cold fogs and suppress frost
with heaters in very small areas. That is the extent of what has been proved so far (before
2007). Nevertheless, millions are still spent on cloud seeding today, largely by local water
and power companies.” Fleming, 2007(a), p. 54
• Cultural failure of atmospheric engineering: the “environmental turn”
and the anti-war movements. Citizens demand transparency
In addition “to uncertainties about effectiveness, but also to competing economic interests and
to legal constraints, uncertainties of a new type had been added at the turn of the 1970s.
Environmental concerns were clearly of prime importance in bringing down the field of
weather and climate modification.” Kwa, 2001
• Cloud seeding during the Vietnam war, and the subsequent international
legislation on atmospheric engineering
“During the Vietnam war, the US experimented with cloud seeding to create mud that would bog
the enemy down. During this so-called “OPERATION POPEYE”, the air force flew more than
2,600 cloud seeding sorties over the Ho Chi Minh trail. This led 70 nations, including the US,
to ratify a UN treaty named "Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile
Use of Environmental Modification Techniques (ENMOD)" – opened for signature in 1977.”
Brahic, 2009
3) 1965-1990
b: Biogeochemical Cycles and “a spirit of optimism”
• Investigations about ocean fertilization carry on
““Give me half a tanker of iron, and I’ll give you an ice age,”
biogeochemist John Martin (a Colby College graduate) reportedly
quipped in a Dr. Strangelove accent at a conference at Woods Hole in
1988.” Martin, 1988 in Fleming, 2010, p. 249
• From the 1980s on, the Developments in Global Biogeochemistry
theory are almost always linked to global environmental risks, and
especially CC. The tone of expert’s discourses is still rather
optimistic though.
1982 NASA report: “In the twentieth century, humanity has become a
factor in the global cycles of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur
and can affect global and regional air quality and climate; even control
of the powerful hydrological cycle is within its grasp. An understanding
of the overall system is essential if the human race is to live
successfully with global change.” NASA, 1982, p. iii
4) 1990-2012
a) The multiple Strategies of geoengineers
• The “catastrophist” argument
“Modelling of climate engineering is in its infancy. However, continued growth in CO2 emissions
and atmospheric CO2 concentration, combined with preliminary numerical simulations such
as those presented here, constitute a prima facie case for exploring climate engineering
options – and associated costs, risks and benefits – in greater detail.” Caldeira & Wood, 2008
in Schneider, 2008, p. 3853
• Will GE need international consensus and cooperation?
“Of course, it would be strongly preferable to obtain international consensus and cooperation
before deployment and operation of any climate engineering system. … However, unlike
CO2 emissions reduction, the success of climate engineering does not depend
fundamentally on such consensus and cooperation. Putting aside the question of whether
or not such a course of action would be wise, a climate engineering scheme could be
deployed and operated unilaterally by a single actor, perhaps at remarkably low economic
expense.” Caldeira & Wood, 2008 in Schneider, 2008, p. 3852
• To rub boundaries out between the Natural and the Artificial, between
Local and Global Scales, between Public and Private Research, between
Earth and Space, etc.
• To get through the multidisciplinary watch of the environment
4) 1990-2012
b) The use of a specific history of GE and a specific history of
environmental policies by Geoengineers
• The building of a specific history of GE and climate policies by
David Keith:
 To create a feeling of ‘déjà vu’: the history of GE can be “measured in
centuries”; today’s “GE” is very similar to what was called “climate
modification” in the Cold War.
 A sharp contrast between US NAS expertise and IPCC expertise in the way
they take GE into account and consider it?
“Neither the FAR First Assessment Report of IPCC (1990) nor the SAR Second Assessment
Report of IPCC (1995) include a general framework for categorizing of response strategies as
was done in the NAS studies of 1977, 1982, and 1992. … In contrast to NAS92 there is no
attempt at cost estimation, nor is there mention of broad ethical implications of
geoengineering. Risks and uncertainties are stressed, but again in contrast to NAS 92, no
general heuristics for assessing risk (e.g. comparison of the magnitude of natural to
engineered effect) are mentioned. Despite the absence of any cost calculations or attempts
at risk assessment, the WGII report and the SAR “Summary for Policy Makers” conclude that
geoengineering is “likely to be ineffective, expensive to sustain and/or to have serious
environmental and other effects that are in many cases poorly understood”. … As for the
coming TAR Third Assessment Report of IPCC (published in 2001), while it includes some
new technical details, it will not significantly improve in the SAR’s assessment of
geoengineering. Keith, 2000, p. 256 & 256-257
Arrhenius Svante, 1908 (1907), Worlds in the Making, the Evolution of the Universe, New York, London, Harper, 230 pages
Bourdeau Michel, 2009, « Agir sur la nature: la théorie positive de l’industrie », Revue philosophique de la France et de l’étranger, 2009/4 - Tome 134, pp. 439-456.
Chapman Sidney, 1934, « the gases of the atmosphere », Presidential Address delivered before the Royal Meteorological Society on January 17, 1934, pp. 133-135.
Crutzen Paul J., 2006, "Albedo enhancement by stratospheric sulfur injections: A contribution to resolve a policy dilemma?", Climatic Change 77 (3–4), pp. 211–219.
Dahan Amy & Pestre Dominique (Dir.), 2004, Les sciences pour la guerre. 1940-1960, Ed. de l’EHESS, Paris, 404 pages.
ETC Group, 2010, Geopiracy: The Case Against Geoengineering, ETC Group Communiqué # 103, First published October 2010, Second edition November 2010,
http://www.etcgroup.org/upload/publication/pdf_file/ETC_geopiracy_4web.pdf (le 05/03/2012), 53 pages.
Fleming James Rodger, 2010, Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control, Columbia University Press, 344 pages.
Fleming James R. , 2007 (a), “the Climate Engineers”; article on line: http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=wq.essay&essay_id=231274 [le 03/02/2009].
Fleming James R., 2007 (b), “"On the Possibilities of Climate Control" in 1962: Harry Wexler on Geoengineering and Ozone Destruction”, Paper for the American Geophysical
Union, Dec. 14, 2007, documents on line, http://www.colby.edu/sts/wexlerozone.pdf & http://www.colby.edu/sts/agu2007wexler.doc (le 10/06/2011)
Fleming James R, 2007(c), The Callendar effect: the life and times of Guy Stewart Callendar (1898-1964), the scientist who established the carbon dioxide theory of climate
change, American Meteorological Society, 155 pages.
Fressoz Jean-Baptiste & Locher Fabien, 2010, « Le climat fragile de la modernité. Petite histoire climatique de la réflexivité environnementale », la vie des idées,
http://www.laviedesidees.fr/Le-climat-fragile-de-la-modernite.html 20/04/2010.
Frioux Stéphane & Lemire Vincent, 2012, « Pour une histoire politique de l’environnement au 20ème siècle », Revue d’Histoire Vingtième Siècle, numéro 113 (janviermars 2012), pp. 3-12.
Grundmann Reiner, 2005, « Ozone and Climate: Scientific Consensus and Leadership”, Science, Technology & Human Values, pp. 73-101
Kahn Herman, 1976, The Year 2000: A Framework for Speculation on the Next Thirty-Three Years, MacMillan.
Keith David, 2000, “Geoengineering the Climate. History and Propect”, Annu. Rev. Energy Environ., 25, pp. 245-284
Kwa Chunglin, 2001, “The Rise and Fall of Weather Modification: Changes in American Attitudes towards Technology, Nature and Society”, in Clark Miller & Paul Edwards
(eds.), Changing the Atmosphere: Expert Knowledge and Environmental Governance, Cambridge, Ma: MIT Press, 2001, pp. 135-165.
Locher Fabien & Quenet Grégory, 2009, « L’histoire environnementale : origines, enjeux et perspectives d’un nouveau chantier », Revue d’Histoire moderne et
contemporaine, 56(4), oct-déc 2009, pp. 7-38.
NASA, 1982, “Global Change: Impacts on Habitability: A Scientific Basis for Assessment”, A Report by the Executive Committee of a Workshop held at Woods Hole,
Massachusetts, June 21-26, 1982, Submitted on behalf of the Executive Committee on July 7, 1982, by Richard Goody (Chairman), National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Jet
Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California.
Pestre Dominique, 2008, “Challenges for the Democratic Management of Technoscience: Governance, Participation and the Political Today”, Science as Culture, Vol. 17, No. 2,
June 2008, pp. 101–119.
Pestre, Dominique, 2003, Science, argent et politique, un essai d’interprtation, Paris: INRA, coll. Sciences en Question.
Rigby Malcolm & Keehn Pauline A., 1963, « Bibliography of the publications of Harry Wexler », Monthly Weather Review, Oct.-Dec. 1963, pp. 477-481
Royal Society, 2009, Geoengineering the climate. Science, governance and uncertainty, Report of the Royal Society, September 2009, 83 pages.
Schellnhuber Hans Joachim , Crutzen Paul J. , Clark William C., Claussen Martin & Held Hermann (Ed.), 2004, Earth System Analysis for Sustainability, Report on the 91st
Dahlem Workshop (2003), Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Schneider Stephen, 1996, “GEOENGINEERING:
COULD - OR SHOULD - WE DO IT? », Climatic Change 33, pp. 291-302.
Tatarewicz Joseph N., 1990, Space technology & planetary astronomy, Indiana University Press, 208 pages.
WMO/UNEP/EC/NOAA/NASA, 2010, Scientific Assessment of ozone Depletion: 2010, Report of the 2010 Assessment of the Scientific Assessment Panel, World Meteorological
Organization Global Ozone Research and Monitoring Project – Report No.52.

similar documents