when in doubt, reach for a conspiracy?

Alex Jones and his fan club are apparently convinced that the drought in California is a sinister New World Order experiment.

windblown desert

Just in case you’ve been taking a year-long vacation from the news, the state of California is as dry as the bleached bone in a Western’s foreshadowing of a long, slow death in the desert. The last time it rained in LA was almost three months ago. The time before that? Sometime in April, maybe? Coming from the often rainy, lousy with thunderstorms Central Ohio, rain is an exciting event now. This is especially true as the Sierra Nevada snowpack is the lowest it’s been in 500 years and the drought is the worst in over 1,200 years. Of course looking at what’s going on all over the American Southwest and in Alaska, where native towns are being flooded a little more every year and the permafrost is starting to thaw, you could point to global warming. With much of the last decade and a half breaking records for warmest year ever and the hottest summer in recorded history just coming to a close, it seems like a reasonable conclusion. But if that’s really just too establishment for you, you can join the Alex Jones crowd in blaming chemtrails and the shady government agencies behind it diverting rain from the Southwest to do… something.

Unlike the right wing’s favorite conspiracy theory that global warming in a hoax to impose some sort of communist New World Order led by the UN, the idea that the government is in charge of weather lacks even the smallest kernel of plausibility behind it. It’s one of those rare ideas that’s not even wrong because it’s based on a profound lack of understanding of basic physics. Cloud seeding is a real thing and it’s been tried. But it’s effect is the exact opposite of what Jones and his acolytes have been claiming. It actually induces rain from clouds that just need a push to let loose with a torrent of precipitation and has been employed in experiments to try and divert the paths of hurricanes and increase rainfall for crop irrigation. Its track record is very uneven, it’s a very debatable notion that it has any measurable effect and every paper arguing that it could do all sorts of amazing things has so far been proven wrong in the real world. Weather systems on our planet are just far too energetic for a little dusting of silver compounds to dramatically affect them, and way too turbulent to be predictable enough for real geoengineering applications.

Even more importantly, chemtrails, a bugaboo of conspiracy theorists who don’t know how very simple water vapor forms contrails in the wake of jet engines, are completely unusable for cloud seeding. As mentioned before, silver compounds is what researchers would use and seeding is not going to produce any sort of wispy contrail. In fact, it would be invisible to your naked eye. If you want clouds to accept foreign materials, you have to release a very fine mist of them so the wind keeps them aloft and lets them mix into the cloud. Jets of them would simply dissipate into a kind of snow scattered by the winds, and eventually fall back to Earth as pollution. And it gets even worse when HAARP gets dragged into the picture. How exactly a nuclear launch detector and sensor array meant to study the ionosphere changes the weather has never actually been explained, but just like Yosemite Sam, they don’t know how it’s done it but they know it’s done it and nothing is going to convince them otherwise. It looks weird and most of what it does is held to be classified, therefore, it’s fair game to be and do anything in a pet conspiracy theory.

Adding the final cherry on top of this insipid mess are the many contradictory motives for those nefarious powers that be to do any sort of weather manipulation. In one breath they’re trying to control the planet’s resources under a military junta, in another they’re trying to slow down and reverse global warming, in a third they’re following some sort of master plan only they have full access to but it apparently involves seemingly random droughts and storms. Why, why, oh why, in the name of Cthulhu’s mouth tentacle polish, must the concept of pumping trillions of tons of greenhouse gases warming the atmosphere and exacerbating climate extremes by altering our typical weather patterns be met with cries of malevolent government weather manipulation that seem ripped straight out of comic books? Is it so the conspiracy theorists can think they’re plain smarter than everyone else? I know Jones’ and Mike Adams’ motivation in all this, cashing in on another conspiracy since neither haven’t met one with which they weren’t immediately in lust as the cash from advertisers and viewers comes pouring in, but what about those who won’t make even a penny on this hysteria? Why does weather, of all things, get them so worked up?

# oddities // california / cloud seeding / conspiracy / drought

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