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What Did We Lose When We Abandoned the Science of Weather Control?

What if we'd kept working on weather control instead of just giving up?

By Amethyst QuPublished 10 months ago 4 min read
House Sparrow wading to beat the heat/photo by the author

Did you know the United States once had a President’s Advisory Committee on Weather Control? Of course, you didn’t. It was in the long ago-- so long ago it was formed under the administration of a president who got famous by first being a general in a pretty big war that our side actually won.


Before my time, I assure you. But we heard all about it as kids. Once in a while, someone mumbled darkly about the CIA. Most people, though, just thought it was hilarious that the American public ever believed mere puny humans could actually do anything to change the weather.

(Not so hilarious now, is it, pal?)

Captain Howard T. Orville, chairman of the committee, was an enthusiastic booster of the idea that we should develop the science to the point where a weather station might spot a forming funnel cloud on its radar and dispatch the troops to “dissipate” said cloud. He said:

"This hypothetical destruction of a tornado in its infancy may sound fantastic today, but it could well become a reality within 40 years."--Orville as quoted in Weather Control as a Cold War Weapon by Matt Novak, Smithsonian Magazine, Dec. 5, 2011

He believed the same or similar tech could be developed to bust up hurricanes too.

Yeah, only it didn’t happen.

Not, as it turned out, because people can't change the weather. Oh, people can very much change the weather-- as we have all learned to our great sorrow.

It didn't happen because we gave up trying to learn how to do it in a positive, controlled way.

Self-appointed "serious" people said the problem was too big. Too expensive. Too hard.

(Harder than flying to the moon on 1960s technology? More expensive than playing a round of golf on that moon?)

Well into my early adulthood, I would hear people opine that mere humans couldn’t possibly change the weather, so it was pointless to fund the research. Even if we could bust up hurricanes, the Soviets would probably copy our tech and somehow use it for evil.

You know the movie trope. Weather control was one of those famous things that “man was never meant to know" because science is dangerous, mmm-kay?

In short, Orville's can-do attitude was quickly swamped by a swelling tide of can't-do and anti-intellectual/anti-scientific negativity.

Sound familiar to anybody here?

An alternative universe

40 years from 1953 was 1993. Had we made the effort, we might have had enough of the tech ready in time to blow off 1992’s Hurricane Andrew.

The mind boggles.

Hurricane Georges with its seven landfalls never happens. Hurricane Mitch with its 11,000 dead. We’re only at 1998.

Hurricane Katrina never happens. 2005.

You can fill in your own roll call of natural disasters from there.

So here we are on Timeline Doom

Here in New Orleans, we've been under the heat dome for weeks dealing with garbage weather like this:

Screenshot of National Weather Service forecast July 30, 2023

Monday boasts a predicted heat index of 118. If I never write again, it might be because I spontaneously burst into flame.

Honestly. I could see all these excessive heat alerts in the interior of a continent, but this close to the lake? Completely ridiculous.

I would write my Congressman to express my displeasure-- except that I happen to live in Louisiana’s District 1, which means by long-standing tradition that my Congressman is not allowed to possess any evidence of brain activity.

Captain Orville stated that the battle for control of the weather would come down to a battle between the United States and Russia. He was wrong. The battle actually came down to a shouting match between oil industry interests (and their anti-intellectual dupes) and those who noticed that human activities can and do affect our climate.

The bad guys won.

And yet it's so easy to imagine that other, better timeline where we did the research into weather control instead of just forming a committee to talk about maybe one day, someday doing the research. By 2023, we'd have 70 solid years of research into how to improve the weather. Paradise would be in our grasp-- or at least cheaper rates on our flood insurance.

Instead, we are in hell, nor are we looking to climb out of it any time soon. On my street where kids once played ball and rode bicycles in the summer, no one ventures outside between May and October. Even the dogs have to be walked after dark.

Author's Note

An earlier version of this story, "Do I Look Entertained By This Weather to You?" was originally published on the Medium platform on Aug. 1, 2021. Since then, the situation has only gotten worse, with millions of Americans forced indoors because of a series of life-threatening heat waves and heat domes. Indeed, July 2023 is thought to be the hottest month in over 100,000 years.

Therefore, I substantially revised and updated my story. I have also included an updated screenshot from the evening of July 30, 2023.


About the Creator

Amethyst Qu

Seeker, traveler, birder, crystal collector, photographer. I sometimes visit the mysterious side of life. Author of "The Moldavite Message" and "Crystal Magick, Meditation, and Manifestation."

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