As alarm over global warming spreads, a radical idea is gaining
momentum. Forget cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, some scientists
argue. Instead, bounce sunlight back into space by pumping
reflective nanoparticles into the atmosphere. Launch mirrors into
orbit around the Earth. Make clouds thicker and brighter to create
a "planetary thermostat."
These ideas might sound like science fiction, but in fact they
are part of a very old story. For more than a century, scientists,
soldiers, and charlatans have tried to manipulate weather and
climate, and like them, today's climate engineers wildly exaggerate
what is possible. Scarcely considering the political, military, and
ethical implications of managing the world's climate, these
individuals hatch schemes with potential consequences that far
outweigh anything their predecessors might have faced.
Showing what can happen when fixing the sky becomes a dangerous
experiment in pseudoscience, James Rodger Fleming traces the
tragicomic history of the rainmakers, rain fakers, weather
warriors, and climate engineers who have been both full of ideas
and full of themselves. Weaving together stories from elite
science, cutting-edge technology, and popular culture, Fleming
examines issues of health and navigation in the 1830s, drought in
the 1890s, aircraft safety in the 1930s, and world conflict since
the 1940s. Killer hurricanes, ozone depletion, and global warming
fuel the fantasies of today. Based on archival and primary
research, Fleming's original story speaks to anyone who has a stake
in sustaining the planet.
Subjects: General Science, Technology, Environmental Science, Political Science
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