James Fleming – “A Brief History of Weather and Climate Control”

James Fleming, Professor of Science, Technology and Society at Colby College, has produced a new video for the Washington Geoengineering Consortium. The video is titled, “A Brief History of Weather and Climate Control.” In it, Fleming makes the case that the growing push for development and deployment of climate engineering technologies has antecedents in prior efforts to intervene in weather and climate systems. “Visionary schemes for weather and climate control have a long history,” he suggests, “but with a very few exceptions they have never worked. Would be climate engineers and policy makers need to take this into account.” 

Fleming makes a powerful case for increased levels of attention by scholars in the humanities and social sciences to the puzzles posed by climate engineering. “We should base our decision making,” Fleming argues, “not only on technical expertise and what we think we can do now and in the near future; rather, our knowledge must be shaped and tempered by what we have and have not done in the past.”

James Fleming expands on the argument made in his video post in his important book, “Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control.” An excellent summary piece is this one, written for the Wilson Quarterly.

The Washington Geoengineering Consortium will be posting more videos, podcast conversations, and solicited writings, in the coming months, from a variety of perspectives. Our work’s goal is to broaden the conversation around this important emerging discussion, and to give space to all perspectives- those of voices in favor of full steam ahead geoengineering research and potential deployment, those of voices entirely opposed, and the many important-to-understand nuanced positions in between. All of these arguments need to be aired and understood to enable a just, engaged, and inclusive conversation moving forward.