Weaponising Weather [Talk]

The Space Keet. Image by Dennis de Bel.

Talk given as part of the Space Keet programme, during the Zero Footprint Campus festival, University of Utrecht. Statement and pics below:

In the mid-20th century, the practices involved in the task of weather forecasting were undergoing a transformation. This transformation–surmised as a shift from the “art of forecasting” to the “science of meteorology”–is bound with the broader turn towards rationalism, systems-thinking, and digital technology in American post-war science. In the context of the tense geopolitical order of the Cold War, the capacity to accurately forecast the weather offered the possibility to perhaps control it, raising the question: would it be possible to employ it as a weapon in war? For some, the answer to this question lay in the new technology of the satellite.

Drawing on declassified administrative documents, operations reports, and technical manuals, this talk will provide an account of experiments in satellite technology and weather control research in the United States during the early decades of the Cold War. In doing so, I ask: What interests were involved? What were the political connotations of the satellite during this era? And what was the legacy of this research?

Weaponising Weather talk. Image by Dennis de Bel.

Satellite image collected by the Space Keet.