Saturday, March 2, 2013

Hacking the Planet

Imagine sucking the life from a hurricane? Or catching lightning in a bottle? Or even zapping a tornado with microwaves? The Weather Channel is exploring cool and crazy ways to control the weather.
In Greenfinger, I wrote about how geoengineering is emerging from the realm of science fiction to become science fact.  That case involved an unauthorized use of carbon sequestration to fight climate change.  It turns out that there are other geoengineering ideas out there to control all kinds of natural disasters, ones The Weather Channel is examining in a new series, 'Hacking the Planet,' the back-to-back premieres of which I watched Thursday night.  Before I give my opinions, here's what LiveScience wrote about the show.

Hacking the Planet: New Series Premiers on The Weather Channel
by Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer
Date: 27 February 2013 Time: 09:04 AM ET
In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy and its devastating impact on the East Coast, can robot ships or 1,000-foot-long drinking straws save humanity from hurricanes?

That's the question posed by the first episode of a new The Weather Channel Series, "Hacking the Planet," which will focus on the ways scientists are trying to weaken or redirect severe weather and other natural phenomena. The six-part series will premier Thursday, Feb. 28 at 8:00 p.m. EST.

The show will focus on geoengineering ideas that could help redirect lightning, weaken earthquakes and choke hurricanes in their tracks.
The episodes I watched dealt with ideas on how to deal with hurricanes and tornadoes.  The good news is that the show seems to be treating the science and scientists seriously as well as presenting the material enertainingly.  The consequence is that the hosts are coming to fairly realistic assessments of current capabilities, i.e., so far most of the ideas are a long way from fruition.  They're also realizing that a lot of the ideas are 1950s and 1960s technological optimism updated, and so they treat them with the proper levels of skepticism.  Finally, all the ideas quickly run up against the limits of prediction.  For a hurricane, that's a few days.  For a tornado, it's a matter of minutes.  I can imagine what the show will do with earthquakes and tsunamis, where there is no good record of prediction.

I leave you all with this video summarizing the Weird Science the hosts of Hacking the Planet have uncovered so far.

The cast of the show Hacking the Planet talks about some of strange scenarios they've come across. The show tracks the latest work by scientists trying to prevent or change severe weather events like tornadoes, hurricanes and even earthquakes.
Let's see how long it takes for a Greenfinger-like villain to use these technologies, or ones like them, in a Bond flick.

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