Interview with James Fleming, Author of Fixing the Sky


In an interview earlier this year with SciCom, James Rodger Fleming, author of Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control, discussed his new book and some of the history and science associated with weather and climate control.

Fleming argues that we should be wary of geoengineering and the implications of altering the weather using technology. He also suggests that discussions about climate warming and climate control has become too technical and fails to incorporate social, cultural, and political factors. What is needed is a multidisciplinary approach that also incorporates the views of non-Westerners and women.

In responding to a question of his first exposure to attempts to control weather using weapons, Fleming responds:

When I was a student of atmospheric science, I became aware of weather control, but I wasn’t convinced about its usefulness. There was a military guy, a corporal. He was trying to get his master’s degree in atmospheric science as part of an Air Force rotation. His project was to shoot laser beams at clouds to see if he could make them get bigger and angrier. It never worked. But he had this mindset, well what do you do with a cloud? You shoot at it.

Fighting global warming, battling climate change. The language is full of that kind of metaphor. It’s a war against poverty, a war against drugs. A lot of technocrats and middle-aged males were deliberating this topic of weather control, a “boys with their toys” thing. You could use rockets, you could use high-altitude military balloons.

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