Conspiracy Corner – Weather Manipulation

Every Thursday, about 8:15am, Matthew talks with Ethan and Zac on 95bFM’s “Breakfast Show” about conspiracy theories.

(Sorry for mislabelling the Marriage Amendment Bill as the “Gay Marriage Bill”. Framing is important and I failed in my duties.)

This week: weather manipulation (somewhat inspired by my having to leave the house in the middle of a storm).

Notes

Like any Aucklander, I like to complain about the weather. But I’m not a typical Aucklander1, am I? I’m a conspiracy theory theorist and, as such, I’ve got to ask:

“Is this succession of heavy showers really the result of a natural phenomenon or is it the work of evil scientists working for evil governments bent on doing evil?”

The phenomena in question is what appears to be an increase in severe weather conditions; droughts (like the one that just ended), storms (like those that did immense damage to Haiti), cold snaps (like in the UK last year). So, what could be causing it if it’s not just a natural cycle? Well…

  1. It could be climate change: maybe the climate is changing and, as such, we’re seeing extreme or freak weather condiitons as the Earth’s environment tries to find a new equilibrium? Of course, sinister forces might be doing their utmost to hide the fact the climate is changing, which means we’re treating the new paradigm of weather as being freakish because we don’t think it’s the new normal.
  2. Of course, you might be a climate change denier, which makes freak weather conditions slightly harder (but not impossible) to explain. You might just buy into some claim that what appears to be freak weather conditions aren’t (or, at the very least, are not symptomatic of some longer term condition) or you might claim that whilst anthropogenic climate change is not occuring, evil scientists are changing the environment for some malign purpose.2
  3. Or you may be agnostic about anthropogenic climate change but believe that some weather manipulation is going on.

Evidence for the intent to change the weather is fairly rife in the political literature on the ‘net. Many countries have engaged in cloud seeding (trying to force it to rain in otherwise non-rainy conditions) and several climate scientists have talked about how it would be good to modify the environment to stop anthropogenic climate change, increase crop yields and the like. But, the question is this: just because people desire some end, this doesn’t mean they have necessarily taken any steps to achieve, nor does it mean there is even a conspiracy to try to achieve it.

The distinction is crucial. On one level, the definition of a conspiracy is the existence of some group, acting in secret, who desire an end. Conspiracy theorists of a particular “weather manipulation” strip will point towards articles, statements and the like to show that some people have mused about weather manipulation, which is to say we can show intent (a phrase I now associate with the show “Spartacus”) but that doesn’t mean that these people are working in secret to try to achieve it. I intend to wipe out all humanity; I’ve not yet done much more than decide not to breed.3

Note: most of the whistleblowers about weather manipulation don’t claim to have proof positive such manipulation is going on. Rather, they tend to argue that the people in power have the want and the ability to control or manipulate the weather.

People also like to point to agreements between nations to share weather manipulation technology, the fact the UN has regulations about the use of “weather warfare” and the like, arguing that such political talk would only be going on if it were already possible to manipulate the weather. However, this ignores two important factors.

  1. Sometimes we leglislate for things that might happen so that if (not necessarily “when”) they happen, there are rules and regulations already in place.
  2. Sometimes politicans regulate and legislate based upon perceived threats which are not real (witness Maurice Williamson’s 3D-printed Ectasy worries).

Notes

  1. Although I don’t know why I’m making this all about Auckland, since complaining about the weather is a generic human condition.
  2. This kind of view is weird and slightly contradictory: humans can’t change the environment, except when they can.
  3. A decision I may, or may not have made with several people, so, actually, maybe I am involved in a conspiracy to help bring about the end of humanity. It’s not a very effective plan at this stage, I have to say. Want to join me cartel of non-breeders?

About Matthew Dentith

Author of "The Philosophy of Conspiracy Theories" (Palgrave Macmillan), Matthew Dentith wrote his PhD on epistemic issues surrounding belief in conspiracy theories. He is a frequent media commentator on the weird and the wonderful, both locally and internationally. On occasion he can be caught dreaming about wax lions but, mostly, it is rumoured he works for elements of the New World Order.