Spy agencies fund climate research in hunt for weather weapon, scientist fears
A senior US scientist has expressed concern that the intelligence services are funding climate change research to learn if new technologies could be used as potential weapons.
Alan Robock, a climate scientist at Rutgers University in New Jersey, has called on secretive government agencies to be open about their interest in radical work that explores how to alter the worlds climate.
Robock, who has contributed to reports for the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC), uses computer models to study how stratospheric aerosols could cool the planet in the way massive volcanic eruptions do.
Last week, the National Academy of Sciences published a two-volume report on different approaches to tackling climate change. One focused on means to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the other on ways to change clouds or the Earth’s surface to make them reflect more sunlight out to space.
The report concluded that while small-scale research projects were needed, the technologies were so far from being ready that reducing carbon emissions remained the most viable approach to curbing the worst extremes of climate change.
The CIA was a major founder of the National Academies report so that makes me really worried who is going to be in control, he said.
Alan Robock: if policymakers ever decide to use geoengineering, we must better understand benefits / risks. More research needed. #AAASmtg
— Ginger Pinholster (@gingerpin) February 14, 2015
Other funders included Nasa, the US Department of Energy, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The CIA established the Center on Climate Change and National Security in 2009, a decision that drew fierce criticism from some Republicans who viewed it as a distraction from more pressing terrorist concerns.
The centre was closed down in 2012, but the agency said it would continue to monitor the humanitarian consequences of climate change and the impact on US economic security, albeit not from a dedicated office.
Robock said he became suspicious about the intelligence agencies involvement in climate change science after receiving a call from two men who claimed to be CIA consultants three years ago.
Actually, Prof Alan Robock of Rutgers University was approached by the CIA about geoengineering 3 years ago. It's news today.
— A Stephen (@thykingdom2020) February 16, 2015
The intelligence body urged more research to be carried out into climate control so that if policy makers are ever tempted to take this further, they will have a much better idea about the risk and benefits.
The use of the weather as a weapon was banned in 1978 under the Environmental Modification Convention (Enmod) Asked how he felt about the call, Robock said he was scared.
“I think this research should be out in the open and it has to be international so there won’t be any question that this technology will used for hostile purposes,” Robock said.