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Monday
Nov102008

Weather Made to Order? (1954)


Before starting the Paleo-Future blog I had no idea that weather control was such a prominent feature of mid-20th-century futurism. Raised on Jurassic Park's pop version of chaos theory, I suppose that little Matty was deathly afraid a butterfly beating its wings in Indochina would cause a typhoon in Omaha. And thus, messing with a single little black raincloud would surely cause massive, unforeseen destruction.

Ah, the carefree years of our youth.

The May 28, 1954 issue of Collier's predicted that mankind (and by that we mean the United States) would eventually have complete control over weather. An excerpt from the piece by Capt. H.T. Orville appears below.

A weather station in southeast Texas spots a threatening cloud formation moving toward Waco on its radar screen; the shape of the cloud indicates a tornado may be building up. An urgent warning is sent to Weather Control Headquarters. Back comes an order for aircraft to dissipate the cloud. And less than an hour after the incipient tornado was first sighted, the aircraft radios back: Mission accomplished. The storm was broken up; there was no loss of life, no property damage.

 

This hypothetical destruction of a tornado in its infancy may sound fantastic today, but it could well become a reality within 40 years. In this age of the H-bomb and supersonic flight, it is quite possible that science will find ways not only to dissipate incipient tornadoes and hurricanes, but to influence all our weather to a degree that staggers the imagination.


Read more:
Closer Than We Think! Weather Control (1958)
Weather Control of 2000 A.D. (1966)
Foolproof Weatherman of 1989 (1939)
Communities May Be Weatherized (Edwardsville Intelligencer, 1952)

 

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Reader Comments (9)

This is actually technically possible, and China used it during Olympics.

However, it is not deemed too safe;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weather_control#Weather_control_and_law

November 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSalo

I don't doubt that you've seen Disney's Eyes in Outer Space, where after dazzling us with a hypothetical near-future weather control senario, Paul Frees talks about wreaking untold ecological devastation by turning deserts and polar regions into sunny farmland.

November 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCory Gross

Good stuff, as always. Anyone else think that the guy on the magazine cover looks a lot like Stephen Colbert?

November 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterFuzzy

I love this image, this sort of Illustration or 'commercial art' as it would have been called then shows such a high level of skill and artistic ability. Its astonishing that all that effort would just be for a disposable and ephemeral magazine cover. Its this sort of ephemera that actually speaks volumes about its time and place.
Thanks for digging into the recent past, i find you blog fascinating.

Blokkhed

November 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBlokkhed

I think you might like this bit of Air Force research... :)

"Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather in 2025"

http://www.fas.org/spp/military/docops/usaf/2025/v3c15/v3c15-1.htm

May 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTomF

Gee, if only we could have controlled the weather in some manner that wouldn't hurt the environment. Maybe Katrina could have been stopped.

Interestingly, some conspiracy theorists out there believe the government has weather control devices already and caused Katrina to scare us and "keep us under control," as part of their plan for global domination, mwha ha ha ha.

January 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria

It's funny (or sad) to see that weather control was such a big thing in retro-futurism despite the fact that it's one of, if not the most sketchy idea of it. Reading the stuff retro-futurists wrote one can see clearly that they had no idea how to actually accomplish their goals.

Hell, this guy talks about H-Bombs. What, should jets nuke tornadoes or unwelcome rain clouds? I think that might have negative consequences, like, oh, NUCLEAR FALLOUT.

That last paragraph shows even more naivety with the whole "Well, science's pretty swell today, in the future it's sure evolved into functional magic" attitude, a problem of retro-futurism in general.

January 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLiam

Just noticed this in Jane Austen's Emma, from the character Mr. Elton. Scene: it's cold and snowing outside.

"The contrivances of modern days indeed have rendered a gentleman's carriage perfectly complete. One is so fenced and guarded from the weather, that not a breath of air can find its way unpermitted. Weather becomes absolutely of no consequence."

February 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLooknBackward

This was also used as the cover image for the new book Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control, which looks like an interesting source of information on paleo-futuristic ideas of weather control throughout the last century.

December 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJesse M.

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