Weaponized Weather

Weather Weapon

In an excerpt from his new book, Arming Mother Nature, Jacob Darwin Hamblin highlights Cold War research and rumors about it:

One of the ideas was to melt the polar ice cap by exploding nuclear weapons on it, thus raising the global sea level. The Soviets might be considering it, so the rumor went, to drown cities in the United States and Western Europe. Another idea was to change ocean currents or temperatures to interfere with an enemy’s climate and food production. [British Air Ministry scientific advisor, E. V.] Truefitt had no idea how assess an ocean-initiated climate change, but he had made a rough calculation to determine what was needed to melt the polar ice cap. He believed that it would take about a million tons of fissile material to melt enough to raise sea level by 30 feet. “This is a large amount of fissile material whichever way you look at it,” he wrote to [oceanographer George] Deacon, “and consequently my guess is that it is not the kind of project that even the Americans would embark on under the influence of Sputniks.”

(Illustration of an satellite able to “focus sunlight to melt the ice in frozen harbors or thaw frosted crops — or scorch enemy cities” from a May 25, 1958, issue of The American Weekly.)