Hurricanes And Tsunamis As Weapons? The Truth About 'Environmental Warfare'

Manipulating the weather? The HAARP antenna array
Manipulating the weather? The HAARP antenna array
Audrey Garric

PARIS - Hurricane Sandy in the U.S., the tsunami in Japan or the eruption of the Eyjafjoll volcano in Iceland. Could the rising tide of such natural disasters be explained by man’s voluntary action? Could these cataclysms be triggered deliberately by the army, for political reasons?

For years, these conspiracy theories, relayed generously on the Internet, suggest that the climate could be manipulated as part of strategic or tactical wars.

These assertions have more to do with alarmist extrapolations from various interest groups rather than with real military operations, but one thing is true: the concept of Environmental Warfare has long been part of military jargon.

In the U.S., from the 1950s, official reports or statements recognize the military usefulness of climate change techniques. "Intervention in atmospheric and climatic matters . . . will unfold on a scale difficult to imagine at present . . . this will merge each nation’s affairs with those of every other, more thoroughly than the threat of a nuclear or any other war would have done," said American mathematician John von Neumann at the height of the Cold War in 1955.

Between 1967 and 1972 during the Vietnam War, Operation Popeye used cloud "seeding" techniques by injecting silver iodine. The idea was to trigger rain and extend monsoon season in order to slow down the movement of enemy troops through the Ho-Chi-Minh trail.

As the U.S. and Russia were holding a scientific race to be the first to control the climate, the UN decided to create a legal framework. In 1977, the Enmod Convention, ratified by the UN General Assembly banned the military or any other hostile use of environmental modification techniques. It targets "any technique for changing - through the deliberate manipulation of natural processes - the dynamics, composition or structure of the Earth, including its biota, lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere, or of outer space."

A weapon of mass destruction

Though scientific publications have become scarcer, research continues. While the U.S. is going through a "Revolution in Military Affairs" aimed at adapting armed forces to their 21st century missions, a new large-scale project is born: the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, also known as the HAARP program.

In 1990, the U.S. Air Force and Navy started building a research station made up off 180 antennas and 360 radio transmitters on a Defense Department site in Gakona, Alaska. The goal was to understand the complex mechanism that make the ionosphere, a region of the high atmosphere and study its impact on long distance communications.

For conspiracy theorists, HAARP is way more than that. "From a military point of view, HAARP is a weapon of mass destruction, operating from the external atmosphere and capable of destabilizing agricultural and environmental systems around the world," as well as "burning planes in the sky," writes Michel Chossudovski on the conspiracy website mondialisation.ca.

If the creation of HAARP does date back to the cold war, when U.S. and Soviet submarines were sailing in deep seas and required better communication systems, the goals have been redefined since the end of the Soviet Union, according to a study published in the scientific review Nature.

The U.S. first thought about using it to study ways of blocking the explosion of a nuclear missile in the atmosphere. The idea was to send particles that would accelerate the fall of radionuclides toward the inferior stratosphere. In 2006 however, a group of scientists concluded that any attempt at dealing with nuclear radiation was unrealistic and could trigger a blackout on high-frequency radio waves, which could disturb communications and navigation. After several changes HAARP now focuses on studying scientific phenomenon in the ionosphere, like auroras or the radiation of solar eruptions.

Harming yourself while aiming at your allies

Attempting to manipulate the climate is tricky and dangerous, even for civilian use – called geo-engineering – when scientists modify the energy balance of the earth to fight global warming. "We discovered that if we dissipated clouds above the South Atlantic, we could trigger droughts in Amazonia because of the change to atmospheric circulation. Sending aerosols in the stratosphere to cool down the planet would most likely weaken the monsoon and reduce the rain needed for the survival of millions of people in Africa, India and China," says Alan Robock, a climatology professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Ken Caldeira, an atmosphere expert at the Carnegie Institution in Washington, says we still don’t have enough knowledge about the climate to know how to influence it in one place without affecting others. "It would be hard to harm your enemy without harming yourself or your allies," he warns. "It wouldn’t be possible to keep the project a secret and the necessary infrastructure, like aerial or naval fleets would be vulnerable to an attack."

Robock also notes that attempts to manipulate the climate leave a trail of evidence. "There would be proof in the stratosphere that we could see through our satellites, like small volcanic eruptions or disintegrating clouds," he concludes. "In short, true climatic weapons don’t exist."

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Queen Elizabeth II with UK PM Boris Johnson at a reception at Windsor Castle yesterday

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Hej!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where chaos hits Syria, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is accused of crimes against humanity and a social media giant plans to rebrand itself. For Spanish daily La Razon, reporter Paco Rodríguez takes us to the devastated town of Belchite, where visitors are reporting paranormal phenomenons.



• Syrian violence erupts: Army shelling on residential areas of the rebel-held region of northwestern Syria killed 13 people, with school children among the victims. The attack occurred shortly after a bombing killed at least 14 military personnel in Damascus. In central Syria, a blast inside an ammunition depot kills five soldiers.

• Renewed Ethiopia air raids on capital of embattled Tigray region: Ethiopian federal government forces have launched its second air strike this week on the capital of the northern Tigray. The air raids mark a sharp escalation in the near-year-old conflict between the government forces and the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF) that killed thousands and displaced over 2 million people.

• Bolsonaro accused of crimes against humanity: A leaked draft government report concludes that Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro should be charged with crimes against humanity, forging documents and incitement to crime, following his handling of the country's COVID-19 pandemic. The report blames Bolsonaro's administration for more than half of Brazil's 600,000 coronavirus deaths.

• Kidnappers in Haiti demand $17 million to free a missionary group: A Haitian gang that kidnapped 17 members of a Christian aid group, including five children, demanded $1million ransom per person. Most of those being held are Americans; one is Canadian.

• Putin bows out of COP26 in Glasgow: Russian President Vladimir Putin will not fly to Glasgow to attend the COP26 climate summit. A setback for host Britain's hopes of getting support from major powers for a more radical plan to tackle climate change.

• Queen Elizabeth II cancels trip over health concerns: The 95-year-old British monarch has cancelled a visit to Northern Ireland after she was advised by her doctors to rest for the next few days. Buckingham Palace assured the queen, who attended public events yesterday, was "in good spirits."

• A new name for Facebook? According to a report by The Verge website, Mark Zuckerberg's social media giant is planning on changing the company's name next week, to reflect its focus on building the "metaverse," a virtual reality version of the internet.


"Oil price rise causes earthquake," titles Portuguese daily Jornal I as surging demand coupled with supply shortage have driven oil prices to seven-year highs at more than $80 per barrel.



For the first time women judges have been appointed to Egypt's State Council, one of the country's main judicial bodies. The council's chief judge, Mohammed Hossam el-Din, welcomed the 98 new judges in a celebratory event in Cairo. Since its inception in 1946, the State Council has been exclusively male and until now actively rejected female applicants.


Spanish civil war town now a paranormal attraction

Ghosts from Spain's murderous 1930s civil war are said to roam the ruins of Belchite outside Zaragoza. Tourists are intrigued and can book a special visit to the town, reports Paco Rodríguez in Madrid-based daily La Razon.

🏚️ Between August 24 and September 6, 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, more than 5,000 people died in 14 days of intense fighting in Belchite in north-eastern Spain, and the town was flattened. The fighting began on the outskirts and ended in house-to-house fighting. Almost half the town's 3,100 residents died in the struggle. The war annihilated centuries of village history. The town was never rebuilt, though a Pueblo Nuevo (or new town) was built by the old one.

😱 Belchite became an open-air museum of the horror of the civil war of 1936-39, which left 300,000 dead and wounds that have yet to heal or, for some today, mustn't. For many locals, the battle of Belchite has yet to end, judging by reports of paranormal incidents. Some insist they have heard the screams of falling soldiers, while others say the Count of Belchite wanders the streets, unable to find a resting place after his corpse was exhumed.

🎟️ Ordinary visitors have encountered unusual situations. Currently, you can only visit Belchite at set times every day, with prior booking. More daring visitors can also visit at 10 p.m. on weekends. Your ticket does not include a guaranteed paranormal experience, but many visitors insist strange things have happened to them. These include sudden changes of temperature or the strange feeling of being observed from a street corner or a window. Furthermore, such phenomena increase as evening falls, as if night brought the devastated town to life.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


We still cling to the past because back then we had security, which is the main thing that's missing in Libya today.

— Fethi al-Ahmar, an engineer living in the Libyan desert town Bani Walid, told AFP, as the country today marks the 10-year anniversary of the death of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The leader who had reigned for 42 years over Libya was toppled in a revolt inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings and later killed by rebels. Some hope the presidential elections set in December can help the country turn the page on a decade of chaos and instability.


Iran to offer Master's and PhD in morality enforcement

Iran will create new "master's and doctorate" programs to train state morality agents checking on people's public conduct and attire, according to several Persian-language news sources.

Mehran Samadi, a senior official of the Headquarters to Enjoin Virtues and Proscribe Vices (Amr-e be ma'ruf va nahy az monkar) said "anyone who wants to enjoin virtues must have the knowledge," the London-based broadcaster Iran International reported, citing reports from Iran.

The morality patrols, in force since the 1979 revolution, tend to focus mostly on young people and women, particularly the public appearance for the latter. Loose headscarves will send women straight to a police station, often in humiliating conditions. Five years ago, the regime announced a new force of some 7,000 additional agents checking on women's hijabs and other standards of dress and behavior.

Last week, for example, Tehran police revealed that they had "disciplined" agents who had been filmed forcefully shoving a girl into a van. Such incidents may increase under the new, conservative president, Ibrahim Raisi.

Speaking about the new academic discipline, Samadi said morals go "much further than headscarves and modesty," and those earning graduate degrees would teach agents "what the priorities are."

Iran's Islamic regime, under the guidance of Shia jurists, continuously fine tunes notions of "proper" conduct — and calibrates its own, interventionist authority. More recently the traffic police chief said women were not allowed to ride motorbikes, and "would be stopped," Prague-based Radio Farda reported.

Days before, a cleric in the holy city of Qom in central Iran insisted that people must be vaccinated by a medic of the same sex "as often as possible," and if not, there should be no pictures of mixed-sex vaccinations.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

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