The Central Intelligence Agency is funding a study to investigate the effects of human engineering on Earth’s environment. The study, which will be run by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and will take 21 months to complete, is the first to be backed by an intelligence agency.
According to the NAS website, the goal of the study is to conduct a “technical evaluation of a limited number of proposed geoengineering techniques.” The cost of the project is $630,000, which the CIA is splitting with NAS, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and NASA.
The study will investigate several geoengineering techniques, including the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and solar radiation management. Solar radiation management involves putting particles into the atmosphere to reflect incoming sunlight away from the planet.
“It’s natural that on a subject like climate change the Agency would work with scientists to better understand the phenomenon and its implications on national security,” Edward Price, a spokesman for the CIA, said. Price refused to confirm the agency’s role in the study.
A 2008 study by the National Intelligence Council determined that climate change poses a threat to national security.
“This is an assessment of what is known in the science literature about some of the proposed engineering techniques- both solar-radiation management and carbon dioxide removal,” Edward Dunlea, study director with the National Academies, said.
Other attempts to alter the climate have been made over the last few decades, including Project Stormfury, an operation headed by the Navy and the Commerce Department between 1962 and 1983, to change the pattern of hurricanes using silver iodide. In 2008, China’s “Weather Modification Office” seeded clouds before the Beijing Olympics, hoping to cause rain to fall in the city’s suburbs instead of over the stadiums.
The group has held closed-door meetings to proceed with plans for the project. A brief public session was held last week to provide some insight.
“Nothing in this study is classified at all. We’re doing an evaluation,” Dunlea said. “All of our sponsors are interested in this topic as a part of the larger climate change discussion, which has economic, environmental, and national-security ramifications.”