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Using Lasers on Satellites to Control Weather – Good Idea?

Aluminum foil hats probably won’t help but mirrored fedora sales may go up if either of these new weather control ideas get off the ground, into space and aiming lasers at our heads. At the Climate Engineering Conference 2014 held on August 18-21 in Berlin, Germany, two scientists presented differing proposals for altering the Earth’s climate using high-powered lasers beamed from satellites.

Isabelle Dicaire, a European Space Agency fellow, described how a satellite equipped with LIDAR lasers could be used for something called cloud brightening. LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) uses pulsed lasers to generate three-dimensional surface maps of the Earth. Cloud brightening involves increasing the number while decreasing the size of water droplets in clouds so they reflect more sunlight back into space, thus altering the climate. Dicaire proposes increasing the laser power substantially and using LIDAR to make new nanodroplets and even move them around for maximum reflection. Creating nanodroplets with lasers has already been done in a lab.

An illustration of how cloud brightening works by increasing the number of microdroplets in a cloud to reflect more light away from Earth.

An illustration of how cloud brightening works by increasing the number of nanodroplets in a cloud to reflect more light away from Earth.

Aidan Cowley, a professor at Dublin City University, proposed mounting a plasma laser on a solar-powered satellite and blasting greenhouse gas molecules apart into smaller, less harmful gases. This has already been done on the ground.

The big problem with both of these ideas is that the lasers require huge amounts of energy generated on the ground using – you guessed it – fossil fuels that create the very greenhouse gases causing the problems they’re supposed to solve. And targeting water and greenhouse gas molecules from a satellite requires precision we’re nowhere close to yet (see Star Wars).

Of course, the military is pushing for this. Imagine being able to use lasers to create severe weather over hostile areas or blast holes in the ozone to kill your enemies slowly with melanoma. Is this any more farfetched than weather control using HAARP? And if the cost is too high for satellites, maybe some of the planes allegedly making chemtrails can blast them at the same time. What happens to the beams that miss their targets and hit the Earth? What SPF will block those rays?

What do you think? Is firing lasers from satellites to control the weather and climate change a good idea or mirrored hat time?

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Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.
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