Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control

Paperback | January 31, 2012

byJames Rodger Fleming

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As alarm over global warming spreads, a radical idea is gaining momentum. Forget cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, some scientists argue. Instead, bounce sunlight back into space by pumping reflective nanoparticles into the atmosphere. Launch mirrors into orbit around the Earth. Make clouds thicker and brighter to create a "planetary thermostat."

These ideas might sound like science fiction, but in fact they are part of a very old story. For more than a century, scientists, soldiers, and charlatans have tried to manipulate weather and climate, and like them, today's climate engineers wildly exaggerate what is possible. Scarcely considering the political, military, and ethical implications of managing the world's climate, these individuals hatch schemes with potential consequences that far outweigh anything their predecessors might have faced.

Showing what can happen when fixing the sky becomes a dangerous experiment in pseudoscience, James Rodger Fleming traces the tragicomic history of the rainmakers, rain fakers, weather warriors, and climate engineers who have been both full of ideas and full of themselves. Weaving together stories from elite science, cutting-edge technology, and popular culture, Fleming examines issues of health and navigation in the 1830s, drought in the 1890s, aircraft safety in the 1930s, and world conflict since the 1940s. Killer hurricanes, ozone depletion, and global warming fuel the fantasies of today. Based on archival and primary research, Fleming's original story speaks to anyone who has a stake in sustaining the planet.

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As alarm over global warming spreads, a radical idea is gaining momentum. Forget cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, some scientists argue. Instead, bounce sunlight back into space by pumping reflective nanoparticles into the atmosphere. Launch mirrors into orbit around the Earth. Make clouds thicker and brighter to create a "planetary ...

James Rodger Fleming is a historian of science and technology and professor of science, technology, and society at Colby College. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), elected "for pioneering studies on the history of meteorology and climate change and for the advancement of historical work ...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:344 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.68 inPublished:January 31, 2012Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:023114413x

ISBN - 13:9780231144131

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Customer Reviews of Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Serious Look at a Dangerous Idea Despite this book’s catchy title and its surreal cover image, it is actually a very serious and broadly-sweeping look at the history of weather and climate control. The author has covered many aspects of this subject – from mythology and divination, on to tricksters and deceivers to serious but misguided visionaries and finally to serious modern-day research and contemporary attempts at making the hoped-for changes. Also discussed are the pros and cons of weather/climate control, should such a thing become feasible. The author writes clearly and packs a lot of information on each page. Occasionally, he throws in a bit of humour but mostly, the book is written in a very serious, lively and quite engaging, tone. It should be of interest to a wide range of readers: from meteorologists and climatologists to lay readers with a serious interest in the subject.
Date published: 2012-05-22

Extra Content

Table of Contents

PrefaceAcknowledgmentsIntroduction1. Stories of Control2. Rain Makers3. Rain Fakers4. Foggy Thinking5. Pathological Science6. Weather Warriors7. Fears, Fantasies, and Possibilities of Control8. The Climate EngineersNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

...not just a stellar addition to the history of science, but also a major contribution to the discussion on the role of history in science policy.