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7 Real-life Attempts to Hack the Environment [Science]

Mankind is not short of hubris. Scientists have moved mountains, built islands, and split the atom. At times, scientists have even tried to change the environment itself. Here are seven attempts to hack Mother Nature like a nineteen year old on a desktop PC.

7. Project CIRRUS (1947)

Project Stormfury was a secret project by the US Government to alter the weather. Its first attempt at weather modification came in 1947 with a sub-project of Stormfury code-named Cirrus. The goal of Cirrus was to weaken a hurricane by dropping a hundred and eighty pounds of crushed dry ice into a hurricane from an airplane flying along its rainbands. They targeted a hurricane headed out to sea as a test. The drop was successful, if you mean the hurricane changing direction and hitting Georgia instead of the ocean a success. Though lawsuits were threatened, no one could prove Cirrus was responsible for the change in direction, so nothing ever came of it. But it was a while before they tried to move a hurricane again.

6. Project GROMET (1966)

In 1966, India faced a serious famine. In desperation, and hoping to score political points, the US offered the resources of Project Stormfury to India. The goal would be to try to create rain and boost crop yields. They called it Project GROMET. Stormfury seeded clouds with silver iodide, and some rain was produced, but most of it seems to have evaporated before hitting the ground. The US shut down the project early, for fears of exposing the existence of Stormfury.

5. Operation POPEYE (1967)

During the Vietnam War, the US government turned to Project Stormfury once again. This time, they tried to extend the monsoon season with Operation Popeye. They seeded clouds with silver iodide in Vietnam to try to flood roads and slow or stop enemy military traffic along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The rainy season did increase by thirty days that year, so it was considered a success. But when Operation Popeye was exposed in 1972, the American public had all it could stands and couldn't stands no more. The US House and Senate voted to ban environmental warfare.

4. Sulu Sea Urea Dump (2008)

The Ocean Nourishment Corporation in Sydney launched a scheme to promote plankton growth by dumping tons of urea into the ocean. The hope was that the plankton would flock to the nitrogen released by the urea, and absorb carbon dioxide, drawing it out of the atmosphere. The company dumped a ton of urea into the Sulu Sea in 2008, and plan to dump five hundred more tons into the same area. Many environmental groups warned their plan could have unintended consequences, like plankton overrunning the Earth, forming giant plankton monsters, and forcing us to fight them with giant robots. Just kidding. But it could get pretty bad.

3. Olympic Summer Games (2008)

When it hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics, China wanted the perfect games to show the world. Even rain wouldn't be tolerated. They launched a campaign of cloud seeding to disperse any clouds that might have formed and caused rain during the Olympic Games. Part of this was image, but also practical. When China built the "Bird's Nest" stadium for the Games, they didn't want to spring for a roof because of the cost of steel. Someone decided it would be cheaper and easier to just stop it from raining altogether. Now before you mock the Chinese, you should know they are the world leaders in weather control. China has had a Bureau of Weather Modification since the eighties, a virtual army of over thirty thousand people, forty aircraft, four thousand rocket launchers, and seven thousand antiaircraft guns. Before the opening ceremony, they launched thousands of missiles to break up clouds surrounding the stadium. It seems to have worked; areas around the stadium were drenched, but the ceremonies stayed dry.

2. Abu Dhabi Rainstorms (2010)

In July and August of 2010, the city of Al Ain in Abu Dhabi is usually at its driest. That's why people were puzzled by torrential rainstorms, hail, and lightning sweeping through the city. It turned out the storms were created by government scientists in a secret project to bring rain to the desert. Using ionizers, the scientists managed to generate negatively charged particles, in turn creating rain clouds out of thin air. Enough of those could turn the Sahara Desert into the Sahara Lake

1. The Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation (2012)

In 2012, the Haida Gwaii Islands started what they call the Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation, led by controversial geoengineer Russ George. George and his team dumped one hundred and twenty tons of iron oxide into the ocean to promote plankton growth, which they claimed would bring salmon to the area and absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. In May 2013, Haida terminated George and cancelled the project over concerns that the project could be dangerous. Those plankton monsters, again.

Do you think the Earth can be hacked? What dangers or benefits could result from experiments like these?

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  1. That all pails to when Destro created the Weather Dominator, which Cobra Commander used to blackmail the world. Oh, wait, that didn't happen. It would be cool if it did. I suppose China will be the ones to come up with it. First maybe they need a way to get rid of all that smog.

  2. Knew you'd work in giant robots somehow.
    I am surprised they haven't found a surefire way to disperse a hurricane. Of continued the research. That one would be beneficial, considering how much damage a hurricane does to our country when it hits.

  3. Very informative. I didn't realize that it went so far back. Hacking stuff around us is one thing, hacking Mother Nature could bring those "unintended consequences" to come to fruition.

  4. It is very informative and very helpful on my research.Thanks for sharing this post.

  5. I was reading in a newspaper supplement a bunch of ideas to "fix" global warming, but each of them has the same kind of adverse side effects you hear about in all those prescription drug commercials. I think it's a little soon for us to consider actively tampering with the weather. Unless your name is Storm or Sir August de Winter.

  6. Love the giant robots, Alex. And yeah, it would be cool to change hurricanes, if we knew what we were doing


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