The CIA is trying to control the weather. Good.

Saira Khan


This summer, the National Academy of Sciences confirmed that the CIA is helping to underwrite a study examining atmospheric geo-engineering – in other words, the human manipulation of the climate. Of course, for those of an environmental hue, where imagining the worst of humanity comes easily, especially when the US government or spooky technology is involved, this news is perfect food for conspiratorial hunger. That is, it’s proof that the CIA is trying to control the world, and it shows that our rulers, their pockets bulging with Big Oil dollars, are more than happy to continue violating Mother Nature.

There is no shortage of sceptics in this venture. Some will worry about the CIA using the weather for selfish national advantage, scientists will concern themselves with the law of unintended consequences, Green Party members will fret that reversing climate change would deprive their party of a reason to exist, and philosophers will have another existential dilemma on their hands (if they can confirm they have any hands) if humans are able to master the sky.

But let’s put a lid on the conspiracy theorists’ rejoicing and the ‘it’ll never work’ sniping for a moment. It is possible to see this in a more optimistic light. For a start, I know many in Britain, despite this summer’s unexpected glory, would appreciate a little precipitation-alleviation. More importantly, if the aim is to increase our control over the climate – rather than using the idea of climate change as a political or moral tool to attack the perceived greed and arrogance of modern society – then research into atmospheric geo-engineering should be encouraged.

Any new technology entails risks. But surely trying to tackle the problems which confront society is more important than refusing to do so on the grounds that the attempts might fail or go wrong? And before anyone gets too hot and bothered about this development, it should be remembered this CIA-backed project is just attempting to assess the possibility of geo-engineering.

Of course, I could be wrong and the CIA might indeed be taking over the world. But hey, at least we might be able to do something about climate change in the meantime.

Saira Khan is a student at the University of Oxford and a spiked intern.