Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"Maximizing Human Death was the Principal Goal"

You tease, and you flirt, and you shine all the buttons on your green shirt."Maximizing Human Death was the Principal Goal":
Over at Salon, an
article
adapted from Jacob Darwin Hamblin's upcoming book

Arming Mother Nature
looks at a bizarre byway of the
Cold War: the Pentagon's proposals to weaponize the weather. The
"immediate post-Sputnik years," Hambloin writes,

had a peculiar air, both of desperation and of
opportunity. Doors were wide open to a range of technological
possibilities. Nearly anything that was technically feasible made
it to the highest levels of discussion. For starters, that meant
revisiting the questions surrounding biological, chemical, and
radiological weapons. But it also sparked discussion of the
ambitious, the horrendous, and the quirky. Like wildcatters
exploring for oil, American scientists grasped desperately around
them, striving to find the next weapon of the future....



The only thing not in doubt in these discussions was that
maximizing human death was the principal goal. Which was better,
[Edward] Teller and his colleagues asked—drowning villages along
the coast, igniting the countryside with thermal radiation, or
simply laying waste a city? Should humans be contaminated through
the food chain, or beat into submission through ecological
dependence?
The excerpt ends with a hint of the argument that I gather is at
the heart of the book: that the Pentagon, rather than the
counterculture, was the birthplace of what the author calls
"catastrophic environmentalism." An interesting thesis, and I'm
certainly curious to read more.