Geoengineering has been at the forefront of technology development in climate change science in recent years in an effort to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
However, a senior US scientists has recently expressed concern that spy agencies may be involved in the development of this technology in order to use it as a weapon.
The Guardian reports:
“The CIA was a major funder of the National Academies report so that makes me really worried who is going to be in control,” he said. Other funders included Nasa, the US Department of Energy, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The CIA established the Center on Climate Change and National Security in 2009, a decision that drew fierce criticism from some Republicans who viewed it as a distraction from more pressing terrorist concerns. The centre was closed down in 2012, but the agency said it would continue to monitor the humanitarian consequences of climate change and the impact on US economic security, albeit not from a dedicated office.
Robock said he became suspicious about the intelligence agencies’ involvement in climate change science after receiving a call from two men who claimed to be CIA consultants three years ago. “They said: ‘We are working for the CIA and we’d like to know if some other country was controlling our climate, would we be able to detect it?’ I think they were also thinking in the back of their minds: ‘If we wanted to control somebody else’s climate could they detect it?’”
He replied that if a country wanted to create a stratospheric cloud large enough to change the climate, it would be visible with satellites and ground-based instruments. The use of the weather as a weapon was banned in 1978 under the Environmental Modification Convention (Enmod).
Asked how he felt about the call, Robock said he was scared. “I’d learned of lots of other things the CIA had done that didn’t follow the rules. I thought that wasn’t how my tax money was spent,” he said. The CIA did not respond to requests for comment over the weekend.
The US dabbled in weather modification before Enmod was introduced. In the early 1960s, researchers on Project Storm Fury seeded thunderstorms with various particles in the hope of diminishing their destructive power. A similar process was adopted during the Vietnam war, with clouds seeded over the Ho Chi Minh trail in a bid to make the major supply route for North Vietnamese foot soldiers too muddy to pass.
“I think this research should be out in the open and it has to be international so there won’t be any question that this technology will used for hostile purposes,” Robock said.