Jan 10, 2006

Calling off the rain.

I was watching the National Geographic channel a few days ago and became fascinated by a program talking about scientists researching the possibility of being able to control the paths of hurricanes. They showed a computer image of Hurricane Iniki striking Kauai in 1992, then provided an alternate model showing the hurricane passing far to the west of the island after the storm had been deliberately thrown off course by a sophisticated system of satellites. Scientists believe that technology can be developed that will actually knock a hurricane off its projected path toward certain devastation, saving certain land masses from a direct hit.

Many people might laud this idea initially, especially on the heels of the last hurricane season. The ability to control these phenomenal low-pressure storms could potentially save thousands of lives and prevent billions of dollars worth of damage.

I say, humans already fool with mother nature too much, and have been paying for it for as long as I have been alive. Humans already control enough on this planet; must they attempt to control the weather too? I find the thought very depressing. The beauty in meteorological processes is that they are so unpredictable and cannot be directly controlled. Humans have indeed manipulated weather patterns over the centuries through such processes as urbanisation and desertification, but such changes occur relatively slowly, and none of it was done with a modicum of intent.

Giving a species with far too much intelligence for its own good the ability to directly control hurricanes, and more generally, the weather, is absolutely frightening. One thing always leads to another; something that no one could have predicted, things that have led to the collapse of entire societies throughout history. Such collapses usually occurred as a result of humans trying to exert too much control over existing ecosystems and natural processes.

Hurricane control is certain to lead to other things, such as control over general weather patterns. How saddening that would be... imagine, the weather outside today being entirely dependent on whatever mood the person in charge of the weather is! If he's sunny and cheery, we might just suffer a drought... and if he's emo, we'll be having problems with floods every other day.

All right, that's exaggerating things quite a bit. Though, it isn't difficult for me to imagine, in the future, a group of officials at the nearest weather control centre zapping out the moisture in the atmosphere for the purpose of providing fair, mild weather for a major urban event, such as a parade. "It will never rain on our parade, no sir!"

It isn't hard to predict what will result if people gain the ability to control the weather for malicious purposes. Meteoroterrorism. The term even has a nice ring to it!

Many may find it difficult to believe something like this is possible, but most ground-breaking new ideas do seem far-fetched at first. 50 years ago, who could have predicted we would be walking around with computers in our pockets that play music, receive phone calls, pinpoint our exact coordinates, and organise our lives?

Humanity may be the parasitic scum of the earth, but I can only hope it is never able to manipulate atmospheric processes as dramatically as it alters the planet's surface. Either way, nature will always have the upper hand, something all of us would do best to remember.

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