Environment

Conspiracy Theorists Claim Hurricane Harvey Is a 'Weather Weapon' (Video)

Some people believe that the storm was engineered, perhaps by a nuclear fusion reactor.

Image of Hurricane Harvey taken from NOAA’s GOES East satellite on August 25, 2017, at 10:07 a.m. EDT clearly showed the storm's eye as the storm nears landfall in the southeastern coast of Texas.
Photo Credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project

"Act of God” is a legal term used to refer to natural disasters that occur outside of human control. Usually invoked when denying insurance claims, the phrase signifies that no single person is responsible for the damage wrought by say, a tsunami, earthquake or hurricane. “God” in this instance does not refer to a deity, but rather the complex set of naturally occurring phenomena that come together to produce acts of unmitigated destruction. Following events like Hurricane Harvey, however, more and more people are starting to seriously doubt the existence of this metaphorical god.

On Sunday, after days of torrential downpour, the National Weather Service declared that Hurricane Harvey was "beyond anything experienced.” With total rainfall reaching an estimated 50 inches in a place that usually receives just slightly less than that in an entire year, it’s understandable that people should question what could have precipitated such a large amount of, well, precipitation.

While most sane people point to climate change as a likely contributing culprit, a growing online community is presenting a conspiracy theory called the "Weather Wars.”

According to lore, it all began with a meeting that took place in 1945. During the gathering, explains the wiki, "the possibility of using several weather manipulation schemes to America’s advantage during war was discussed." In the following decades, the American government supposedly continued to pour funds into "further research on the topic," in an attempt to use weather "as a secret weapon against enemies.”

Today, that story continues, the enemy has become the American people. Mike Adams of NaturalNews recently explained the thinking behind this theory, noting that "a growing number of observers, websites and analysts are concluding that Hurricane Harvey was "engineered" and made into a “weather weapon” through a combination of ground-based temperature manipulation tools and "'chemtrail seeding'... to inflict economic damage and achieve psychological goals involving terror and death.”

Claim that the U.S. government would attack its own citizens are familiar territory for conspiracy theorists. In this instance, the more interesting question is, how are such entities supposedly controlling the weather?

One conspiracy theory claims that there are massive vapor generators that can literally produce storm clouds. Here Adams quotes Sofia Smallstorm, the moniker belonging to the author of the site responsible for trafficking such theories, WeatherWar101.com. "Denying the reality of these daily manmade weather events is akin to denying the existence of the combustion engine, and it is just as easy to prove," Smallstorm boldly claims.

How? If you're really interested, watch the following 14-minute video on Smallstorm’s site, which goes into great detail. (Sidenote: apparently Hurricane Harvey hit Texas exactly 25 years to the day that Hurricane Andrew hit Florida. Coincidence, or carefully planned attack? The truth, as they say, is out there.)

For those who really want to go down this rabbit-hole, Adams also includes this video from APlaneTruth.info:

If you’d prefer to save yourself those 34 minutes, the video essentially details existing patents proving that technology such as vapor generators at least in theory exist. A popular example doing the rounds is U.S. patent #20100074390 A1, named, "Method for weather modification and vapor generator for weather modification." This technology proposes using a nuclear fusion reactor to produce heat that could create enough water vapor to generate clouds in an effort to "reduce the temperature of the earth surface."

In a SingularityHub article from 2011, another example is given of a project that aimed to create rain clouds in Dubai. Developed by the Swiss company Meteo Systems, the technology involved would use "giant ionizers" to send electrons into the atmosphere that would bind with water molecules to produce rain clouds.

So yes, theoretically there exists technology that could manufacture rain clouds. Does this mean such systems were used to trigger the devastation of Hurricane Harvey? In Adams' estimation, the answer is no.

"According to recent estimates," writes Adams, "Hurricane Harvey dumped 11 trillion gallons of water on Houston and surrounding areas." Even if water vapor-generating technology did covertly exist somewhere near Houston, the sheer amount of fuel or electricity required to produce that amount of water makes such a theory "unrealistic by any rational analysis."

So if a secret fleet of water vapor generators weren’t responsible for Hurricane Harvey’s unprecedented rainfall, what was? If you’re not currently wearing a tinfoil hat, you can guess the answer.

Science demands empirical evidence to prove theories true. For that reason, as BBC environmental reporter Matt McGrath points out, directly attributing the pronounced impact of Hurricane Harvey to climate change is difficult because "these are fairly rare events and there is not a huge amount of historical data." What science does offer are numerous other explanations that serve as strong circumstantial evidence for the severity of Hurricane Harvey.

The Clausius-Clapeyron equation, for example, states that a hotter atmosphere holds more moisture, which McGrath adds, "tends to make rainfall events even more extreme when they occur." To this, McGrath further notes the effects caused by rising sea temperatures as well as "changes in atmospheric circulation patterns" caused by climate change. With that all said, McGrath admits that "understanding the full picture will be difficult and expensive."

Iit should be noted that the storm surge levels that have been experienced due to Harvey have been worsened by higher sea levels—which are caused by anthropogenic climate change. Penn State atmospheric scientist Michael Mann notes that because of climate change, "the storm surge was a half foot higher than it would have been just decades ago, meaning far more flooding and destruction," adding, "while we cannot say climate change 'caused' hurricane Harvey (that is an ill-posed question), we can say that it exacerbated several characteristics of the storm in a way that greatly increased the risk of damage and loss of life."

Wanting answers for why events such as Hurricane Harvey occur is understandable. The world is a complex place filled with pain and suffering, and often there are individuals who can be held accountable. That said, there is a delicate balance when it comes to seeking out answers.

Kurt Andersen recently wrote an article on The Atlantic titled, "How America Lost its Mind."

"Each of us is on a spectrum somewhere between the poles of rational and irrational. We all have hunches we can’t prove and superstitions that make no sense.” The problem with this post-truth reality, Andersen continues, is when we begin to let "the subjective entirely override the objective; thinking and acting as if opinions and feelings are just as true as facts."

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Robin Scher is a freelance writer from South Africa currently based in New York. He tweets infrequently @RobScherHimself.