Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences
The pathological history of weather and climate modification: Three cycles of promise and hype
JAMES RODGER FLEMING

ABSTRACT

The checkered history of weather and climate modification exhibits a modicum of promise and an excess of hype. This paper examines two completed historical cycles: the first, dating from 1839, involved western proprietary rainmaking or ““pluviculture;”” the second, from 1946 to 1978 involved ““cloud seeding,”” commercial rainmaking, and the attempted weaponization of the clouds. Recently, discussion of weather and climate modification has returned to the science-policy agenda, framed as seemingly inevitable responses to killer storms and global warming. The long history of deceptive and delusional attempts to ““control”” nature, however, raised serious questions about the rationality of these options.

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