Every place we’ve lived—including Connecticut, Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, and Butte County, California—the locals have a saying, “If you don’t like the weather here, wait a minute.”
But what if you don’t like the weather and want to do something about it. What if you have an extended drought and desperately need more water for wells and farm crops? What if global warming is changing the climate so the weather has become too cold or too hot or too wet or too dry? Can we do anything about it?
This program takes a look at technology and the weather, including references to some science fiction popular culture materials that hold out positive and negative prospects for weather control.
Listen to Ecotopia 17 Online Now! (To download, right click [control click Mac users] and select “Download File”.)
From Capital Press “the west’s ag website” comes a story dated January 15 by Tim Hearden concerning cloud seeding in California:
“As drought conditions persist, some California utilities and water districts are stepping up their efforts to wring more water out of passing clouds. But not everyone thinks that’s such a good idea. Local residents and environmentalists are complaining about Pacific Gas & Electric Company’s plan to enhance storms over the Pit and McCloud river watersheds in Siskiyou and Shasta counties. The utility perches cloud-seeding generators on mountaintops, where they use prevailing winds to carry a silver iodide solution up into the clouds, said Paul Moreno, a PG&E spokesman in Chico.
‘For our projects, we get as much as 10 percent more snowfall precipitation,’ Moreno said. He added that the resulting water flows through hydroelectric plants and benefits downstream users, including agriculture. Critics say the practice may make drought in non-seeded areas more severe and contaminate soil and water with the salts used in the process. The environmental impacts from cloud seeding are poorly understood and understudied, asserts Angelina Cook, an environmental consultant from Mount Shasta. ‘PG&E kind of sprung this one on us,’ Cook said. ‘They just published a notice of intent about two weeks before the proposed start date. Luckily we saw the notice and raised concerns in time for them to back off.’”
From National Review, a national website of the Thailand Government comes an article published on January 15, 2009 authored by THARIT CHARUNGVAT. “VILLAGERS have said that miracles happen wherever the King treads. Arid land becomes fertile once again.”
“To the uninitiated, it must be tempting to dismiss this approximate translation of a Thai radio spot as worshipful hyperbole. Yet to Thais, apart from the obvious affection towards their King, the statement contains a very real element of truth. For over half a century, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej has applied his technical ingenuity and resources to improving the lives of his people, in particular farmers otherwise at the mercy of nature. His inventions have helped make droughts more bearable, water less polluted and innovation more widely appreciated. What the Thai people have long known has again been given due recognition by the outside world. On January 14, Dr Francis Gurry, director-general of the Geneva-based World Intellectual Property Organisation presented the Wipo Global Leaders Award to His Majesty the King. Some of His Majesty’s best-known projects relate to artificial rain. Rain-making techniques invented by His Majesty, with such memorable names as “sandwich” and “super sandwich”, have brought welcome moisture to land parched by drought, and relief to thousands of farmers. The Royal Rain Project, as it is called, is one of the more than 4,000 royally-initiated development projects to date. Others include those pertaining to irrigation, farming, drought and flood alleviation, crop substitution, public health, distance learning and employment promotion.”
From Spoof, a British satire magazine, comes a January 9 headline: “Palin Sends Massive Cold Wave To [Chill] Inauguration”
“Governor Sarah Palin [used] HAARP technology to send a devastating cold wave to the Eastern Seaboard. HAARP STANDS for High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program [which is used to] analyze basic ionospheric properties and to assess the potential for developing ionospheric enhancement technology for communications and surveillance purposes. Governor Palin has the highest security rating of any governor in the United States. The governor felt disrespected by the mainstream media during the presidential campaign. She has access to the latest HAARP weather modification technology and plans to punish the Eastern Liberal Establishment severely. ‘Revenge is a dish best served cold.’ crowed Ms. Palin. ‘I plan to make the Blue States very, very blue. I hope their Starbucks espressos freeze in their throats!’”
Films, Videos, Games, and Novels on Weather Manipulation
Wikipedia’s listing of weather control in popular culture demonstrates how the idea of controlling the weather incites the imagination. In science fiction and fantasy film, television, fiction, and computer games, the controlling the weather is used for both good and evil. For example, Star Trek portrays most advanced colonies and plants utilizing weather control as a matter of course. “For example, the planet Risa has its climate controlled to be a tropical paradise.” In one episode of the TV series Stargate, the “team discovers a weather control device on an alien planet, which is subsequently stolen and brought to earth, where experimenting with it wreaked havoc with the local weather. The device was later recaptured and returned to its original planet which had suffered phenomenal storms since it had been stolen.”
Here are other films and TV episodes Wikipedia cites as using weather control:
* In the Disney Channel Original Movie, The Ultimate Christmas Present, two girls find a weather machine and make it snow in Los Angeles.
* In the live action Justice League of America film, the villain is a terrorist who has a weather control device.
* In Aliens, a colony sent to LV-426 by the Company utilized a fusion-powered terraforming atmosphere processor. In the first film, the planet’s climate was not yet suitable for human life.
* In The Arrival, a race of aliens is found to be terraforming the Earth using hidden factories producing huge volumes of highly potent, engineered “super-greenhouse gases”.
* In the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon series, the episode “Hot Rodding Teenagers from Dimension X” includes Stone Warriors using a “weather satellite”, , , [which] creates a storm to level New York City, but the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles destroy it. The episode “Take Me to Your Leader” of the same series include Krang and the Shredder using a machine to reduce the Sun, creating cold weather on the Earth.
* Storm (played by Halle Berry in the 2000 film and subsequent sequels), a member of the X-Men, can control the weather with her mind.
* In Superman III, Gus Gorman (Richard Pryor) changes the weather by hacking into a weather satellite.
* In a Family Guy episode, Stewie builds a machine that can control the weather using only a satellite dish and a See ‘n Say.
* In the film The Avengers Sir August de Wynter (Sean Connery) creates a satellite capable of controlling the weather.
* Our Man Flint is a 1966 sci-fi action film which stars James Coburn as Derek Flint where a trio of mad scientists attempt to blackmail the world with a weather-control machine.
* The cartoon miniseries G.I. Joe: The Revenge of Cobra, showed the terrorist group Cobra in possession of a device called the Weather Dominator.
Wikipedia also describes Computer games using weather control:
* In Master Of Orion, it is possible to build a weather control building to change the planet’s environment.
* In Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2, the Allies can build the weather controller device superweapon, and direct thunderstorms to strike a selected location of the map every 10 game minutes.
* In Tribunal, the player finds a machine under the city of Almalexia that can change the weather of the city at the will of its user.
* In Phantasy Star II, a weather, irrigation and dam control system known as Climatrol has been constructed by Mother Brain to make the barren planet Motavia habitable for Palman occupation.
* In the game Spore by Will Wright, players are able to use a spacecraft to modify planetary atmospheres – creating volcanoes to generate carbon dioxide, seeding plant life to create breathable air, or even using a “Genesis device” to make a planet habitable in one go. There is no actual controlling of weather, however.
* In “Earth 2150″, the Lunar Corporation are capable of building a weather control station for tactical weather control. The structure can be charged to cause storms, fog, and/or wind at targeted areas on the map.
Fiction has many instances in which weather control figures prominently. Wikipedia includes these:
* Ben Bova’s The Weathermakers is the story of a government agency that controls the weather.
* Sidney Sheldon’s Are You Afraid of the Dark is the story of a think tank that builds technology powerful enough to create hurricanes, tornadoes, and tsunamis.
* In Michael Crichton’s State of Fear, ecoterrorists plan to create a tsunami, calve an iceberg, and induce flash flooding and hurricanes.
*In Normand Lester’s science thriller Verglas, the 1998 icestorm that struck theMontréal area is an experiment by the Pentagon in the development of a climatic weapon that went wrong.
*In Lois Lowry’s The Giver, the government controls the weather and keeps it from nowing, and confine rain to the farmland.
*In the book series Weather Warden by Rachel Caine, the Wardens are an association of people who have the ability to control the elements – earth, fire and weather. They manipulate these elements to stop natural disasters from devastating mankind.
* In Roger Zelazny’s The Chronicles of Amber an openly known quality of the Jewel of Judgment is the ability to control the local weather.
* In Frank Herbert’s Dune series, weather control is widespread, and is achieved with specialized satellites in orbit around a planet.
According to Wikipedia, comic books also feature weather control. For example:
* DC Comics villain Weather Wizard could control the weather with a special kind of technology in the shape of a wand.
* Marvel Comics heroes Thor and Storm could control weather; the former because he is the Norse god of thunder, the latter because she is a mutant whose powers specifically center around weather control.
* In some of the Asterix comics, when the village bard Cacofonix sings, it starts to rain.
1. (Love Is Like A) Heat Wave 2:46 Martha & The Vandellas
The Ultimate Collection: Martha Reeves & The Vandellas
2. Stormy Weather (Keeps Rainin’ All The Time) 5:17 Ella Fitzgerald
The Complete Ella Fitzgerald Song Books
3. Both Sides Now (LP Version) 5:45 Joni Mitchell
Both Sides Now
4. Cloudbusting 5:09 Kate Bush
Hounds Of Love
5. The Rape Of The World 7:08 Tracy Chapman
6. Weave Me the Sunshine 4:28 Peter, Paul And Mary
Tonight’s program is entitled “Hail to the Chief,” as we take a look at the promises and prospects of the Obama administration in bringing us closer to Ecotopia.
After a brief survey of media opinions on Obama’s prospects, we talk with Barbara Vlamis of the Butte Environmental Council to find out what she thinks about environmental issues under Obama. We then go live to Washington D.C., where Sue Hilderbrand, Director of the Chico Peace and Justice Center, fills us in on the tone and feeling of the capital and tell us what she thinks are the hopes for a social Ecotopia under the new president.
Listen to Ecotopia 16 Online Now!
To download, right click [control click Mac users] and select “Download File”.
Our topic for this program is Eating Sustainably. Our guests are Dave Miller, baker extrodinaire of Miller’s Bake House in Yankee Hill and Francine Steulpnagel of Chico GRUB: Growing Resourcefully, Uniting Bellies. We also share some international news stories on food issues and include some do-it-yourself ways of increasing the sustainability of your diet.
Tonight we focus on the Wild and Scenic Film Festival, which takes place in Nevada City, January 9-11. We talk with the festival director and founder, Kathy Dotson, and then with two of the filmmakers who will be in the festival: David Brown of a film about Dumpster Diving, I LOVE TRASH, and Annabella Funk, a third grade student who has made a film history of the Yuba River.
This year’s will be the seventh annual festival, and the sponsors state:
“The Wild and Scenic Film Festival is a call to action….[F]ilmgoers are transformed into a congregation of committed activists, dedicated to saving our increasingly threatened planet. We show environmental and adventure films that illustrate the Earth’s beauty, the challenges facing our planet, and the work communities are doing to protect the environment. Through these films, Wild and Scenic both informs people about the state of the world and inspires them to take action.”
Our purpose in this edition of Ecotopia is partly to promote the festival, which is an excellent event within our listening area, but also to look at the Ecotopian issues that filmmakers undertake and how film functions as a medium for spreading the word about important environmental issues and problems.
Our questions for Festival Director Kathy Dotson:
Our conversation with David Brown, creator of I LOVE TRASH.
Synopsis: Two rules: purchase nothing for 3 months and live off only the things and food found in the trash. This dumpster diving experiment reveals much about our society.
Questions for David:
Our conversation with Annabella Funk, creator of “Journey of the Yuba”
Synopsis: This family-oriented history of the Yuba, written and directed by a third-grade girl, tells the story of both the challenges and beauty of the river. Winner of the Student Filmmaker Award.
Questions for Annabella:
Resources on Environmental Films and Filmmaking
Playlist for Ecotopia #14