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  (Source: Matt Groening/Fox)
Queue the conspiracies, this one is going to get ugly

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) raised eyebrows when it offered to shell out part of the $630,000 USD to a geoengineering study.

I. CIA Digs Into new Geoengineering Project

Geoengineering is the practice of trying to control the weather, earthquakes, solar radiation, or other terrestrial phenomena.  In the past, the CIA has engaged in some secretive research that critics have dubbed as outlandish. For example recent reports indicate that it spiked bread in a French village in 1951 with LSD, leading to mass hallucinations, instutionalisation, and 5 deaths.

The U.S. military has also tried its hand at geoengineering, rather successfully extending the monsoon season during the Vietnam War (Operation Popeye).  That effort led to the slogan, "Make mud, not war."  They also toyed with the idea of control hurricanes with silver iodine sprayed into clouds (Project Stormfury).  The Chinese attempted similar tactics to drive away smog prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.   

Weather Wars wide
[Image Source: SyFy Asia]

And then of course there's HAARP -- The High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program -- which ostensibly an effort to monitor the weather, but in turn yielded accusations of geoengineering that made it "the Moby Dick of conspiracy theories", according to journalist Sharon Weinberger 

The new effort is designed to look at two tactics to fight "global warming" -- "solar radiation management (SRM)" and "carbon dioxide removal (CDR)".

CDR involves sucking carbon out of the air via chemical reactions or porous nanosponges.  SRM involves literally blocking the sun (partially) by sprinkling particulate chemicals in the air, in an effort to cut solar heating and greenhouse gas effects.  The study's page on the National Academies website reads, "This study is intended to provide a careful, clear scientific foundation that informs ethical, legal, and political discussions surrounding geoengineering."

The study is being conducted by a non-profit group of scientific advisors to the government and will last 21 months, producing a final report in 2014.

II. No Conspiracy, Move Along Says National Academies

The study's subject matter is sure to stoke conspiracy theories, but the CIA has indicated interest in climate change for some time now.  In fact, it maintained an entire research center devoted to the topic until last year, when it was shut down following complaints by Republicans in the House of Representatives who argued it was wasteful spending.

CIA Floor
The CIA has been studying warming for some time now. [Image Source: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty]

National Academy of Sciences (NAS) spokesperson Lauren Rugani tells The Verge:

[The study is solely meant to] assess the current state of knowledge about several geoengineering techniques [and the CIA's involvement] begins and ends with its financial contributions.  It should be noted, and in fact highlighted, that CIA is only funding a portion of this study, with the rest provided by NOAA, NASA, and the National Academy of Sciences itself.

She says that the CIA and other funding agencies will not interact with the study's authors, but only address the committee in charge of the study at a single meeting at its beginning.

As to why the CIA might think it worth spending on, she comments:

One of the objectives of the study is to discuss the possible national security concerns that might arise should geoengineering techniques be deployed (expected or unexpectedly), either by a private entity or another country.

In other words, the study may examine what would happen if China or some other big polluter started dumping chemicals in the atmosphere in an attempt to limit solar radiation.  Ms. Rugani says the study will not look to attempt any of the techniques that it discusses, merely discuss results to date.

So take that conspiracy theorists.

Sources: NAS, The Verge

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By Stuka on 7/18/2013 11:49:12 PM , Rating: 3
I love how the response to "Hey, we're changing the weather!" is, "Hey, let's change it back!"

My favorite is the stupid people trying to cover glaciers with special cloth to stop them from melting. lol

We are just too smart for nature.

RE: Retarded
By DiscoWade on 7/19/2013 10:37:02 AM , Rating: 4
I think of it like this: "What better way is there to fix how humans are altering the weather on earth than by altering the weather on earth!"

RE: Retarded
By arazok on 7/19/2013 11:09:31 AM , Rating: 2
Covering glaciers with cloth seems a bit silly, but I don’t see what the problem is with thinking that we can engineer a solution to GW that is more cost effective then the idealistic plan of pretending we don’t depend on fossil fuels to operate modern economies.

If you can successfully cool the planet without destroying jobs and living standards in the process, I’d think we’d be fools not to at least look into it.

RE: Retarded
By kattanna on 7/19/2013 11:28:44 AM , Rating: 5
If you can successfully cool the planet without destroying jobs and living standards in the process, I’d think we’d be fools not to at least look into it.

yet.. history tells us that when the planet is warmer it is a lusher and more diverse planet.. yet many want to take us back to a little ice age when there was famines and such


RE: Retarded
By ClownPuncher on 7/19/2013 12:10:31 PM , Rating: 5
Because it's too goddamn hot in Brazil. I'd rather people starve than have sweaty balls all the time.

RE: Retarded
By jarman on 7/19/2013 3:55:38 PM , Rating: 2
Somebody please give this man a 6... or at least add this post to the quote pool.

RE: Retarded
By Captain Orgazmo on 7/19/2013 7:16:39 PM , Rating: 2
I'd rather have sweaty balls than frozen ones. Come spend a winter in Canada then tell me how bad global warming is. If that is not an option, go lie down in a deep freeze for 8 months.

RE: Retarded
By deksman2 on 7/20/2013 5:51:43 AM , Rating: 2
Because the monetary system operates in scarcity.
Humanity doesn't live in scarcity for over 100 years thanks to technological capability to produce abundant supply in needs and wants using less resources - the problem is, we live in a system that's fundamentally wasteful, doesn't use technology for betterment of everyone and never changes (its a static/established society - not an emergent one).

RE: Retarded
By invidious on 7/19/2013 2:17:36 PM , Rating: 3
but I don’t see what the problem is with thinking that we can engineer a solution to GW that is more cost effective then the idealistic plan of pretending we don’t depend on fossil fuels to operate modern economies.
Meteorologists can't accurately predict if it is going to rain a few days in advance. Humanity is no where near smart enough to be performing global experiments on the only planet that we can presently live on. This is a case where our grasp far exceeds our understanding.

The risks far outweigh the rewards. There is no survivalist rational that suggests we NEED to do it. There is strong human track record that suggests we shouldn't do it. I would say we should try terraforming the moon or Mars before we mess with earth.

"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA

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