- In August 2019, President Donald Trump asked senior Homeland Security and national security officials to look into using nuclear bombs to “stop hurricanes from hitting the US,”Axios reported.
- After the Axios report, Trump denied ever making those claims.
- Now, a congresswoman has introduced a bill that would prohibit the president from using nukes on hurricanes. Rep. Sylvia Garcia said that was in direct response to Trump’s statements.
- Hurricane experts have said that detonating nuclear bombs in a hurricane would do very little to disrupt it.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
A bill that would prohibit the president or any other federal agency from using nuclear weapons to alter “weather patterns or addressing climate change,” was introduced in Congress on June 1, The Washington Post reported.
The proposal is part of the Climate Change and Hurricane Correlation and Strategy Act, which was introduced by Rep. Sylvia Garcia. The bill also requires “the Administration to produce a report to Congress every 5 years on how the United States plans to combat the increasing hurricane activity due to climate change,” according to a statement on Garcia’s website.
In August 2019, Axios reported that President Donald Trump suggested several times that senior Homeland Security and national security officials look into using nuclear bombs to “stop hurricanes from hitting the US.”
“They start forming off the coast of Africa, as they’re moving across the Atlantic, we drop a bomb inside the eye of the hurricane and it disrupts it. Why can’t we do that?” Trump reportedly asked aides during one hurricane briefing
The bill currently has no-cosponsors, but Garcia said it was drafted with Trump’s comments in mind.
“My bill also makes sure nuclear weapons can’t be used against hurricanes. Normally I wouldn’t think we’d need to legislate something so obvious, but given remarks this President made in August 2019, apparently, we do. Such use would result in radioactive fallout and cause significant public health and environmental harm,” Garcia said in the statement.
After the Axios report, Trump denied ever making those claims.
Garcia told the Post that while she initially thought that Trump’s idea was ” a really dumb idea,” but later realised that others have thought the same thing.
“When we did the research, we found that others have thought of that idea before,” she told The Post.
According to The Post, there’s been discussion of using nukes on hurricanes in the past dating back to at least 1945, when Vladimir Zworykin, an associate research director at Radio Corporation of America, suggested that “if humans had technology to perfectly predict the weather, military forces could be sent out to disrupt storms before they formed, perhaps using atomic bombs.”
According to CNN, the head of the US Weather Service said he could “imagine the possibility someday of exploding a nuclear bomb on a hurricane far at sea,” in 1961.
Eventually, the Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963 was put into place banning atmospheric nuclear weapons tests after the 1958 Operation Argus field test. In that test, the military and the Atomic Energy Commission detonated atomic bombs more than 100 miles above the South Atlantic Ocean, The Post reported.
However, the Partial Test Ban Treaty wouldn’t actually prevent a president from using nukes to destroy or weaken a hurricane.
“It would be a stupid thing to do, but it would not be an illegal thing to do,” Scott Sagan, a professor of political science at Stanford University told The Post.
However, hurricane experts have said that detonating nukes in a hurricane wouldn’t have much of an effect on it, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s website.
“Apart from the fact that this might not even alter the storm, this approach neglects the problem that the released radioactive fallout would fairly quickly move with the tradewinds to affect land areas and cause devastating environmental problems. Needless to say, this is not a good idea,” the NOAA wrote on its site.
Several other experts also agreed it was a bad idea.
“It was a bad idea when [NOAA] wrote this FAQ,” Phil Klotzbach, a meteorologist and tropical cyclone expert at Colorado State University told The Post. “and it’s still a bad idea.”
The bill was proposed at the start of the Atlantic hurricane season, which according to NOAA is expected to bring about 14 to 19 names storms. It would need to be passed in the House and Senate and signed by the president to go into effect.