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To be able to view three hurricanes and half a world at a glance, as U. S. scientists did in the remarkable space photograph below, is one more giant stride toward the day when man will reap the rewards — and face the consequences — of his power to influence the conditions of life on this planet.
Today, mankind is marching slowly but steadily toward the threshold of a simultaneously wondrous and appalling era—■ weather and climate control. Wondrous because of the incalculable benefits which could accrue to humanity when the capability is fully achieved. Appalling because of the utter havoc which might be wreaked upon nations’ economies, political institutions, populations, and security. The possibility of control of the earth’s environment should no longer be considered a long-range dream about which man can procrastinate, relegating a rude awakening to future generations. The scientific portion of “Step I” of weather control—weather modification—is now receiving the most serious attention by scientists around the world. As the American Meteorological Society indicated early in 1966, “Weather modification is a reality today.” Consequently, broad national planning and international planning and negotiations should commence at the earliest opportunity.
Since the world began, man has been confronted by challenges. Some of these have not been too difficult. Others, such as the conquest of disease, have been monumental. But the greatest challenge of all is yet to be faced— international environmental politics. And this, as yet, unborn discipline can be defined as “the science of international relations in terms of the earth’s environment and politics.”
As the result of new weather concepts, the development of high speed electronic computers, and the advent of the Tiros, Nimbus, and ESSA electronic-eyed meteorological satellites, weather research is in the process of experiencing an extraordinary breakthrough. Scientists around the world are currently taking advantage of what the U. S. National Academy of Sciences terms “this new and enormous power to influence the conditions of human life.”
In 1966 alone, the U. S. government published over 2,000 pages of scientific findings on the subject of weather modification. The National Academy recommended a sixfold increase in this research by 1970, and President Lyndon B. Johnson appealed for “new strides toward coping with the historic enemies, storm and drought and flood.”
For centuries, man has dreamed of controlling the weather. Primitive man made
^ Photograph of earth courtesy of the Applied Physics Laboratory, The Johns Hopkins University.
sacrifices to the elements—often in human blood. The Greeks made gods of the components of weather—Apollo, Typhon, and Zephyros. And, for many years, armchair strategists have argued the “ifs” of history introduced by the vagaries of climate and weather. The question has frequently been raised, “If Spain could have subdued the devastating storm which swept its Armada from the English Channel in July 1588, would all the Americas be speaking Spanish today?” But now that man is slowly approaching the stage of weather control once regarded as fantastic, the primary question is not necessarily how he can exert his influence. Rather, the fundamental problem is, how Jar he should go in effecting atmospheric changes, the ultimate consequences of which are still not completely known.
Weather has always been a vital affair, to individuals as well as to nations. Crops, livestock, water levels, water resources—even human life, itself—are all affected by the weather, often violently. Each year, nations suffer catastrophic losses of life and property as a result of weather calamities. Hurricanes, typhoons, tornadoes, floods, hail, blizzards, drought, and frost exact an annual toll amounting to many billions of dollars and many thousands of lives. But even small changes in weather and climate have a dramatic impact upon the behavior and well-being of man. For example, in 1953, the British newspaper The Guardian contained an article which stated: “The difference between this year and last year in mean national temperatures has been only four tenths of a degree Fahrenheit. Our industrial survival may hang by a thread, but it should surely hang by a slightly thicker thread than four tenths of a degree of temperature . . . What havoc a feW weeks of snow or prolonged frost could bring to our national life!”
As recently as June 1955, that remarkable mathematician and scientist who contributed so much to the advancement of the atmospheric sciences, the late Professor John von Neumann, wrote:
Probably intervention in atmospheric and climatic matters will come in a few decades, and will unfold on a scale difficult to imagine at present. . . . There is no need to detail
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what such things would mean to agriculture or, indeed, to all phases of human, animal, and plant ecology. What power over our environment, over all nature is implied!
Such actions would be more directly and truly worldwide than recent or, presumably, future wars, or than the economy at any time. Extensive human intervention would deeply affect the atmosphere’s general circulation, which depends on the earth’s rotation and intensive solar heating of the tropics. Measures in the arctic may control the weather tn temperate regions, and measures in one temperate region critically affect another... . All this will merge each nation’s affairs with those of every other.
Basic and applied research and experimentation in weather modification require a great deal of financial support. In the United States, this support in FY-1965 totaled 4.97 tfttllion dollars, with seven agencies sharing the funding responsibility. In FY-1966, it is estimated that 7.20 million dollars were pro- v*ded in support of weather modification.
No concrete figures are available on the evel of research in weather modification in °ther countries, but an estimate of expendi- hires in the Soviet Union can be made. The Soviet Union is an example of a technologically advanced country with a meteorological setting somewhat similar to that of the United Mtes. In 1964, the Hydrometeorological ervices in the Soviet Union employed some ",000 persons, as compared with 51,000 in ''60. This manpower level corresponds to an Annual budget of 700 to 800 million dollars if the ratio of expenditures to manpower in meteorology is comparable to that in other areas of research and development. The total level of funding would then be twice that in the United States. If 10 per cent of total expenditures is assigned to research, the Soviet Union is devoting some 70 to 80 million dollars to the atmospheric and related sciences. Approximately 25 per cent of Soviet atmospheric research is devoted to weather modification—some 20 million dollars. Although this is an estimate, one can conclude that the total Soviet effort in weather modification is, right now, greater than the U. S. effort by a factor of about 2.7. It is not intended to imply by this comparison that the United States should attempt to duplicate or imitate the Soviet effort. It must be noted, however, that the Soviets have assigned a much higher priority to weather modification than we have in the United States.
Experiments in weather modification are now going on in many parts of the world, and commercial weather modification contracts are being renegotiated and expanded each year. In certain regions of Australia, France, South Africa, and the United States, rainfall has been increased by as much as 15 per cent (it has been calculated in Australia that each additional half-inch of rain is worth almost 3 million dollars in the annual wheat yield). In West Germany, the United States, and Great Britain, fog obscuring airports has been temporarily dissipated with dry ice. Clouds in the California High Sierra area have been seeded
72 U. S. Naval Institute Proceedings, January 1968
with silver iodide crystals to increase snowfall. Clouds have been created and destroyed off the southeast coast of the United States by seeding from aircraft with carbon black. Russian meteorological rockets and anti-aircraft shells containing silver iodide are fired into the upper atmosphere over the mountains of the Caucasus and the steppes of Siberia on a routine basis to dissipate thunder- heads and prevent hail damage to essential crops. Russian scientists have also successfully increased rainfall over the steppe region of the Ukraine.
The Soviets are now experimenting with sound waves as a possible method of dispersing fog. And in France, Meteorologist Henri Dessens’ le Meteotron—a heating unit—covers 3,827 square yards and contains 100 burners that can generate 700,000 kilowatts of power to create towering monster-type cumulonimbus clouds which thrust themselves skyward to produce rain. But the boldest and most far-reaching single weather-control project is being conducted by the United States— Project STORMFURY—wherein the U. S. Navy and the Environmental Science Services Administration (ESSA) are jointly trying to ascertain precisely how hurricanes might be “steered” and modified—perhaps destroyed —by seeding certain energy-sensitive areas within the circulation with silver iodide crystals. Russian scientists have suggested damming the Bering Strait to make the Arctic warmer, thereby allowing the Northern Sea Route to be navigable during most—perhaps all—months of the year. Scientists from several countries have suggested melting a part of the icecap by dusting it with carbon black. And U. S. scientists are now considering the technique of generating dust clouds in space to form “sun shades,” and/or creating broad bands of high-altitude ice-crystal cirrus clouds that would permit the ground beneath to cool in certain areas. It has also been suggested that the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic and the Japan (Kuroshio) Current and its extensions in the Pacific be diverted to produce profound world-wide climate changes.
In 1942, Britain’s "Operation FIDO,” the relatively crude dispersal of fog by oil or gasoline burning, permitted the emergency recovery of thousands of returning Allied bombers.
One of the Soviet Union’s great problems is the extremely harsh climate which freezes ' greatly needed ports and inland waterways, i impedes other modes of transportation, denies extensive agricultural use of land, and restricts the exploitation of certain resources.
If a huge dam were built across the Bering Strait and equipped with atomic-powered pumps to drive the relatively warm water of the Pacific into the Arctic Ocean, the Arctic l- area would, indeed, be warmed to the extent that there would probably be year-round Pacific ports for the Soviets. Possibly Siberia would also be sufficiently warmed so as to permit farming to ease Russian consumer shortages, and average temperatures in Moscow, Berlin and London might be raised about 10 degrees Fahrenheit. But, while tremendous economic and social benefits might accrue to the Soviets from this undertaking, it probably would result in adverse conditions for the t North American continent. The flow of warm Pacific water into the Arctic basin would t likely bolster the flow of Arctic water across the top of North America. As a result, the cold Labrador Current might be so intensified that the already short growing season of the Canadian maritime provinces would be further shortened. If this happened, serious crop losses would be inevitable. It would also probably mean the termination of Halifax as a winter port, with proportionately lower annual average temperatures along the northeastern portion of the United States.
Or, warming Siberia might be solved to Soviet advantage by melting the Arctic ice- I cap, which could be accomplished by “dust-
lng” the area on a routine basis with carbon black or by the release of thermonuclear heat.
The primary difficulty encountered in such considerations stems from the facts that: (1) cftan is not absolutely certain as to exactly '''hat will happen if he tampers on a large—or even moderate—scale with the forces of nature, and (2) the earth’s atmosphere is global and indivisible; it is an ecological container analogous to a space capsule. The elements do n°t recognize private boundaries, regional groupings or national borders. Weather is ciherently an international (as well as intra- Oational) affair. Thus, any major change in be Weather in one area affects, to varying degrees, the entire worldwide weather system.
% destroying a hurricane which is threatening the southeastern areas of the United tates, one might deny Western Europe much- needed rain. By dissipating a typhoon threat- erUng the Philippines or the islands of Japan, °ne might deprive India’s drought-ridden areas of vital precipitation. Also, since hurriCanes and typhoons contain and transport enormous quantities of excess energy from eir breeding grounds in the tropics to higher ,, budes—a single hurricane or typhoon eye” can contain the energy equivalent of °ver 150 H-bombs—no one knows for certain ^actly what would happen if these destruc- e vortices were prevented by artificial ans from forming or developing. The lter suspects, however, that man’s attempts Prevent hurricanes and typhoons might o^tually result in nature’s finding some l ,er method of maintaining the earth’s heat ance—a method perhaps even more disastrous than today’s hurricanes or typhoons.
In the opinion of Glenn R. Hilst of the Travelers Research Center, Inc. as expressed in the April 1967 Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society:
... we know there is an interaction within and among the processes which go on in the atmosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere. To modify one of these spheres almost guarantees a greater or lesser modification of the other two. We ignore this interaction at our own peril. A clear example is the frequently mentioned possibility of altering significantly the Earth’s entire weather patterns by melting the polar ice caps. It seems fairly certain that such a modification would indeed alter the weather patterns, although we are not sure just how. But, in addition, all of the Earth’s coastal plains lying within about 125 [feet] above mean sea level would be inundated! There is a significant alteration of the environment, too!
Thus, the era of weather and climate control will require extremely difficult and complex international decisions regarding which areas of the globe will receive what weather effects. It will also necessarily herald the birth of International Environmental Politics (lEP), man’s greatest challenge.
But, is man, at his present stage of development, capable of meeting a challenge of this magnitude?
Man is an organism directly dependent on other organisms. He also struggles with other organisms, some of them quite small, that prey upon him, eat his food, and otherwise challenge his existence. Anything that has a general and significant effect upon plants and animals, making some more abundant, others less so, is of primary concern to mankind. Changes in weather and climatic conditions have such effects, and are also among the major determinants of economic activities and social structure. Among the world’s newly emerging and developing nations, the weather exercises a profound influence on agricultural activities that are vital to economic survival. No other aspect of man’s broad environment
An Armenian gunner prepares to fire a 100mm., chemically laden, artillery shell into the hail-bearing clouds that menaced the crops of a Soviet collective farm in 1964.
Sovfoto has as many pervasive relations to the pattern of human activity on the globe. Any substantial change in meteorological parameters, whether deliberate or inadvertent, has a significant and dramatic effect upon society. And the tremendous importance to military and naval operations of a capability for controlling weather conditions is all too obvious. Thus, the deliberate alteration of major weather patterns might easily become a casus belli in international affairs in the future.
Man is also an organism living in the multistate system which has been in existence for several hundred years. And the salient feature of the multi-state system has been the all-but- universal discrepancy between legal rights on the one hand, and actual power, influence, and responsibility on the other. The aims and policies of the various members of the society of nations, supported by their own force and persuasive capacities, has prescribed the pattern and the course of international politics. The world system of sovereign states derives its energy from the only action principle which is appropriate in the existent type of society. And the international political process can be summed up in a simple phrase, “power politics.” As set forth by Professor Charles O. Lerche, Jr., of The American University: “States do what they can and suffer what they must.” This has been the lesson of power politics.
The probability—even the possibility—of encountering superior hostile power has effectively limited the freedom of choice of states. Superior power (in one form or another) has been the only final arbiter in the sovereign state system. Power, which is relative, has been measured in terms of its possessors, its competitors, and its future. And weather control—thermonuclear, chemical, and bacteriological weapons notwithstanding —will one day constitute the greatest power ever available to man.
Will man be able to measure up to the monumental responsibility when this power is firmly in his grasp? Is there any hope that he will be able to do so?
A group of physical and social scientists met last year at the National Center for Atmospheric Research at Boulder, Colorado. Among the disciplines represented were
meteorology, geography, politics, law, sociology, and economics. Their purpose was to attempt to establish ways to measure and predict the great variety of potential impacts on human activity that may be caused by weather modification.
Last year, too, the Special Commission on Weather Modification of the National Science Foundation recommended a national policy on the international aspects of weather modification, with two main points: (1) That it is the purpose of the United States, with normal and due regard to its own basic interests, to pursue its efforts in weather and climate modification for peaceful ends and for the constructive improvement of conditions of human life throughout the world; and (2) That the United States, recognizing the interests and concerns of other countries, welcomes and solicits their co-operation, directly and through international arrangements, for the achievement of that objective.
On an international basis, the United States took an early lead. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy laid down a challenge to the United Nations: to design a global weather system for the benefit of every nation in the world—a World Weather Watch. This challenge was accepted and the World Meteorological Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations, responded with the concept of a truly international system t° bring the earth’s entire atmosphere under observational surveillance and to disseminate worldwide weather data and information quickly and effectively. The WWW should be functioning by the early 1970s and will cot>' sist of two broad, continuous and paralk1 streams of action. The first stream involves the introduction of proven technology into the existing international weather system. The initial phase of the first stream will seek t® achieve three significant improvements: O' an improvement in the ability of the systemt0 observe the global atmosphere, (2) the ac' quisition of more complete data for the entire globe for rapid processing by electronic col>r puters, and (3) the development of an into*' national communications network for the rapid exchange of raw data and for the timeh dissemination of analyses, forecasts, and ston” warnings.
The second stream will simultaneous*;
Pursue the work of research and development °n new technology. Its goal is to bring the new technology to operational status rapidly so that it can be fed into the first stream. The new technology on which the second stream is focusing is truly impressive—the meteorological satellites, global horizontal sounding balloons, automatic meteorological oceanic buoys, the communications satellites, mathematical procedures for the creation of models °f the earth’s atmosphere, and the high-speed electronic computers.
The weather services of the world and the world scientific community have shown a rapidly growing awareness of the intrinsic scientific value and the substantial potential benefits to be derived from WWW programs. Patently, it is in the enlightened self-interest of the diverse nations and peoples of the world to co-operate in these programs. And this co-operation can foster and strengthen relations among them; it might even lead to cooperation in other areas that require common efforts.
The World Weather Watch will be a system for observing, processing, and disseminating global weather data and information adequate to meet the needs of atmospheric scientists engaged in general circulation research and to meet the operational needs of the weather services of the nations of the world. It will differ from the present international weather system in two primary respects. It will be truly global, and it will systematically exploit new developments in space technology, in communications, in data processing, and in meteorological instrumentation.
The implications are indeed awesome—for science, for agriculture, for flood control, for navigation, and for tourism—for every nation.
Where nations perceive a common interest, they can come to clear and enforcible agreements. Three conditions, however, must be fulfilled before nations can agree to work together—even if they continue to argue vigorously about why they are working together.
First, the technology which makes co-operation necessary must exist (for example, the globe-spanning capability of airplanes made international air safety regulations both possible and necessary).
ESSA 1, the world’s first operational weather satellite, blazed away from Cape Kennedy atop a three-stage Delta rocket in February 1966. A-6 Intruders, left, are participating in Project STORMFURY, the seeding of hurricanes with silver iodide.
Second, national leaders who understand technology’s promises and its perils must recognize the need to co-operate, to channel and contain the inventions of the scientist and the innovations of the engineer. A nation can perceive its own interest in co-operating with others about one subject, even while carrying on political quarrels on other subjects. In dealing with other individuals, it is difficult to trust them in segments—to sign an agreement on one subject and fight with them or take them to court on another subject. Yet, that is precisely what nations do, because technology makes it imperative to do so.
Third, there must be international institutions to reflect the common interests—to place technology in the service of recognized needs. What man might do in the future, in controlling the weather and climate should be the subject of deep thought on the part of the world’s political scientists now, for a tremendous amount of complex political fallout will occur with the dawn of the era of IEP.
Yet, if as stated earlier, we can agree that the earth’s envelope of air cannot be adjusted to give a drop of water here, without sacrificing one elsewhere, to gain a degree of temperature in one area without losing a degree someplace else, we should also be able to agree that the same thing does not apply to international politics. International politics is not a “zero-sum game” in which an inch gained by one player must mean an inch lost by another. International agreements can be reached, and international organizations can be formed; international law can be developed on subjects which draw nations together even as they continue to quarrel about the frontiers and friends and ideological frenzies which keep them apart.
It appears that a new functional international organization is required and must be carefully designed—to meet the impact and complexities of International Environmental Politics Realistically, such an organization must begin by taking the world as it is. No fundamental political reforms are likely or necessarily required. No value systems have to be appreciably altered. No ideologies have to be seriously compromised. This organization must start from where man is at the time, and then take the next unfaltering step. The organization will not be perfect, for man will
Upon graduating from Tuscu- lum College in 1941, Captain Kotsch undertook graduate work in meteorology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was commissioned an ensign in the U. S. Naval Reserve in 1942, and transferred to the Regular Navy in 1947. He served as aerological officer of VN Squadron 8-D5 from 1942 to 1944. His subsequent duty as a meteorologist included command of the Fleet Weather Facility, London (1956-1958), Fleet Weather Central and Joint Typhoon Warning Center, Guam (1961' 1963), Director of Meteorology and Oceanography) Staff CINCLANTFLT (1963-1965), and Force Meteorologist, Staff CINCUSNAVEUR (1965 to present).
still be fallible. But omniscience is not a prerequisite. Mistakes made in the execution of weather and climate control need not necessarily be fatal or irreversible. Obviously, the organization must by-pass the obstacle of sovereignty. National independence is not infringed when a nation voluntarily accept3 in its own interest the restraints imposed by co-operation with others.
The organization must also be so built to readily achieve a reasonable balance between power and representation in the control of the organization. In a functional organization it is possible to work out ways in which those who contribute most of the resources can take a larger responsibility for decisions as to ho"' those resources will be used. In the U. N' Outer Space Committee, there is an unwritten rule that the nations actually engaged in e*' ploring space will act by consensus rather tha3 fail to act by taking votes. And, finally, tin3 highly specialized, task-oriented, function3 organization can readily grow with the nee1 and adapt to the new tasks made possible bV the advancing technology.
None of the advantages of the function3 approach to world integration are theoretical' The International Postal Union survived t"'3 world wars that left the wreckage of politic3 agreements scattered all over Europe. Th^ League of Nations fell apart, but its function3 organizations—for weights and measures, nar' cotics control, labor standards, etc.—survive and are stronger today than when Hitler’
Mussolini, Stalin, and the Japanese walked out of the League. At the height of each Berlin crisis, the United States and the Soviet Union persisted in co-operating to regulate the hunting of seals in the Bering Sea—as they have done for several decades. The General Assembly of the United Nations has been largely out of business (except for the recent Middle East War) for the past year-and-a-half over a Political-constitutional point which so far has proved insoluble—while the Specialized Agencies and affiliated organs working at functional tasks proceed with business as nsual. And in the midst of the military, political, and diplomatic turmoil of Southeast Asia, the organization charged with the regional development of the Lower Mekong Easin has continued to work in routine and Astonishing harmony. An international tech- uological agency can guide the peaceful enterprises and weave nations together with func- honal strands, despite certain of their political conflicts. And, whenever organizations of a functional world community succeed, then Political quarrels may seem so damaging to shared national interests that the quarrels ^ust be resolved or submerged.
ft is clear that weather and climate control 'yfll have a direct and vital bearing upon rela- hons among nations. Among other things, it "ull aid immeasurably the economic and social advancement of the less developed countries, many of which face problems Associated with hostile climates and serious "^balances in soil and water resources. But Perhaps most importantly, it can serve to de- Vefop common interests among all nations, and thus be a stimulus for new patterns of international co-operation.
ft has been only a little over 20 years since t-'eneral Electric Company scientists Irving r^ngmuir (Nobel prize laureate) and Vincent 1 ehaefer modified clouds by seeding them Jhth dry ice pellets. Not long afterward ernard Vonnegut, a co-worker, demon- crated that a smoke of silver iodide crystals would accomplish the same results. This was the beginning of the modern American history of weather and climate modification through cloud seeding. These American scientists, on 13 November 1946, had verified experimentally the theory advanced in 1933 by the Swedish meteorologist, Tor Bergeron, and the German physicist, Walter Findeisen, that clouds would precipitate if they contained the proper mixture of ice crystals and supercooled water drops. In the years following, progress in weather modification has been both steady and exciting.
A great deal remains to be done, however, and a much more complete understanding of atmospheric processes is required before man tampers with his environment on a large scale. With the development of the electronic computer, it has been possible to process and analyze atmospheric data at tremendous speeds. Equally important, the electronic computer has permitted the theoretician to experiment with his mathematical models which simulate and attempt to predict the actual behavior of the atmosphere. The computer has opened up new areas of discovery in our search for an understanding of the processes of the weather. But it must be noted that mathematical models of the general circulation of the atmosphere that incorporate all the physical processes that must be taken into account will be exceedingly complex. Their creation will require electronic computers of much higher speed and much greater capacity than any now in existence—many times faster than today’s computers. Of one thing we can be sure. Because of the current uncertainties involved, the United States will not initiate or conduct large-scale experiments in weather and climate modification in the earth’s atmosphere until it has been possible to simulate them thoroughly with the advanced models which will be developed over the years by ESSA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and elsewhere.
But we must look ahead now.