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Why don't we try to destroy tropical cyclones by nuking them? (noaa.gov)
37 points by Osiris30 55 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 35 comments




This seems like a relatively cheap hypothesis to test


Sure, let's try to control the weather by nuking our clouds. That won't have any effect on our atmosphere, oceans, and water.

Nope.

None at all.

Also, we're not getting warmer. Climate change isn't real. The fires in the Amazon and Siberia are fake news.

Move along. Move along.


Also, I find it hilarious and sad that people apparently always "bring up the option of..." nuking hurricanes.


Why? Most people, and most politicians stop science as soon as they're allowed - so don't get past a high school level.

If you have no concept of the physics and energy differentials between the two, it seems a reasonable question - nukes are powerful and destructive, hurricanes are powerful and destructive. Why not destroy one with the other?

All that matters is any politician asking the question has an adviser or researcher able to explain why it's a poor idea...


lol wow I got downvoted _fast_.


I didn't downvote you, but my guess is that some of the downvotes were because of the boring sarcasm.

Sometimes sarcasm works, but it is a tricky thing to get right. As someone prone to sarcasm myself, I have learned the hard way that it rarely helps me get any point across.


Well, the fires in Amazonia are fake news, in the sense that unlike what social media tells you, it's not out of control but done purposefully by Brazil, it's not record but just like last year and the year before, and the whole "20% oxygen" meme is bullshit. :).


I think most of the hype is about the current state of affairs, but the genuine concern is about the political policy of burning rainforest for crop lands. While it has short-term economic benefits for the people of Brazil, it has the _potential_ to impact others around the world significantly. The fact that it is done on purpose it what is at odds, not the scale of it in a given timeframe.


That I agree with. It's an environmental disaster, but the true causes and scope are completely drowned under the bullshit reporting comparing it to Notre Dame (Q: why there aren't millionaires donating money to firefighting? A: because it's not an uncontrolled fire, but purposeful action) or talking about "lungs of Earth" and running out of oxygen.

The true story is about whether sovereignty of Brazil should be violated to protect the rainforest.


What’s your source on it being the same as last year and the year before? From https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-49433767:

> The National Institute for Space Research (Inpe) says its satellite data shows an 85% increase on the same period in 2018.

> The official figures show more than 75,000 forest fires were recorded in Brazil in the first eight months of the year - the highest number since 2013. That compares with 40,000 in the same period in 2018.

> Roraima saw a 141% increase, Acre 138%, Rondônia 115% and Amazonas 81%. Mato Grosso do Sul, further south, saw a 114% increase.


From https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-49415973:

> Meanwhile, US space agency Nasa said that overall fire activity in the Amazon basin was slightly below average this year.

> The agency said that while activity had increased in Amazonas and Rondonia, it had decreased in the states of Mato Grosso and Pará.

Also this chart:

https://twitter.com/valmasdel/status/1165295012709634048

EDIT:

The link from 'mikedilger in a parallel reply is even better. It seems that if you include data from previous decade, and not just since 2012, then current fires are nothing special.



Your sarcasm was too brilliant for HN - they couldn't handle it here.


A lot of species are getting extinct right now. When it comes the time for butterflies to get extinct too, the tropical cyclone problem will be solved.


For context Trump allegedly asked if it was an option.

https://www.axios.com/trump-nuclear-bombs-hurricanes-97231f3...


Is Axios a reputable source?


Axios is absolutely reputable.

And is it really inconceivable to think Trump would ask this ?


Very.


It was founded by politico people and manipulated Wikipedia articles about them.


[flagged]


A teacher I remember fondly and highly respect once said to the class "there are no dumb questions. The dummy is the one who doesn't ask questions." I'm relieved that Donald put it in the form of a question, yet suprised at the number of things he must be ignorant about to think that this idea might be viable.


> yet suprised at the number of things he must be ignorant about to think that this idea might be viable.

What exactly are those things, except a) knowing the difference of scale in energies involved, and b) stability of cyclones? A random person off the street won't know any better, and a random faculty member from a random university won't likely know better either.

It's not a dumb question to ask, and the answer requires somewhat specialist knowledge.


I was thinking more about the issue of fallout. A president ought to know at least a little bit about nuclear fallout. He does have the nuclear football.


Detonating a modern thermonuclear bomb above ocean shouldn't pose much risk in terms of fallout - the kind that we're usually worried about arises from detonations over or on the ground.


That isn't true according to the NOAA article:

>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.


What I meant is that the fallout from an air burst is only made of the remnants of the warhead's casing, fission products and un-fissioned material. The extent of this fallout is limited to the mass of the weapon, and from surface knowledge I have, it's minimized in modern nuclear weapons (this fallout is essentially wasted mass and unrealized explosive potential). The end effect of this fallout is primarily raising the global cancer risk a tiny bit.

The usual thing people think of as "fallout" is the result of low-altitude detonation, where the explosion draws up dirt/dust/water vapor, makes some of that radioactive, and creates a cloud of radioactive particulates that then settles in a large area downwind of the explosion. This is the massively dangerous fallout that's usually associated with nuclear weapons.

TL;DR: air bursts != ground-level bursts, and if one doesn't know about the energy scale difference involved, it doesn't seem so dumb to ask if detonating a nuke high up in the cyclone would be helpful.


I believe the NOAA scientists who wrote the article, who said it would cause "devastating environmental problems", and whose mission it is to provide "specialist knowledge" to the President of the United States, even if Trump brushes it off because he believes 99% of climate scientists are unethical liars who promote ridiculous conspiracies about global warming being a real thing caused by humans.

Are you saying you and Trump are correct not to trust NOAA, and that Stan Goldenberg and Dr. Hugh Willoughby who wrote the article are spreading misinformation?

Stan Goldenberg's scientific contributions: https://www.researchgate.net/scientific-contributions/202207...

Stan Goldenberg on Conan O'Brien -- Promoting CYCLONE! by National Geographic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SONzPlYCQis

Dr. Hugh Willoughby: https://case.fiu.edu/about/directory/profiles/willoughby-hug...

Tag: Hugh Willoughby: https://noaahrd.wordpress.com/tag/hugh-willoughby/

So what are your qualifications, or are you just another armchair pundit off the street, attempting to argue that Trump isn't dumb to ignore what top expert scientists keep telling him about preventing climate change and not nuking hurricanes?


Wasn’t this idea originally proposed by a scientist?


[flagged]


It's not just for school children, it's good advice for everyone all the time. I know plenty of ineffective adults who are constantly on guard defending their image, behaving in pretentious ways, and focused altogether too much on sending social signals (hell I'm probably doing it right now by posting this comment, trying to send a social signal of intelligence). We try to remind each other of wisdom with catch phrases like "think outside the box". I think "ask all the dumb questions" might be a good catch phrase too.

As for Jimmy Carter I agree and I have to wonder: why is it that intelligence seems to be strongly inversely coorelated with effectiveness as a president? Jimmy Carter was wildly intelligent and a really nice guy, but couldn't get anything done. Donald Trump is less intelligent and often abrasive, yet he seems to be getting heaps of accomplishments under his belt (not all good ones, but largely so). Is it quantity vs quality? Or paralysis of analysis? There is no definitive answer as these are judgement calls, but I think this is fertile ground for aspiring entrepreneurs to try and grok.


>As for Jimmy Carter I agree and I have to wonder: why is it that intelligence seems to be strongly inversely coorelated with effectiveness as a president? Jimmy Carter was wildly intelligent and a really nice guy, but couldn't get anything done. Donald Trump is mentally challenged and kind of a prick, yet he seems to be getting heaps of accomplishments under his belt (not all good ones, but largely so). Is it quantity vs quality? Or paralysis of analysis? There is no definitive answer as these are judgement calls, but I think this is fertile ground for aspiring entrepreneurs to try and grok.

Paul Johnson discusses this in his chapter in Heroes about Reagan, Thatcher, and John Paul II. He has concluded that politicians succeed when they focus on three or four simple ideas. Reagan was very different from Thatcher—he was, according to Johnson (a personal friend of both, mind you), ignorant and poorly educated, while she was an Oxford-educated chemist with a law degree—but they both focused on straightforward goals, reducing government's reach and fighting Soviet Communism being two they shared. They worked very well together, too.

Trump's list seems to include

* China

* Illegal aliens

* North Korea

* US manufacturing


[dead]


FYI Crystal meth doesn't cause fetal abnormalities


Randall's response to this article: https://what-if.xkcd.com/23/

There's no way to hotlink it directly so just search for "hurricane" in the page.


That whole page is worth reading, unsurprisingly given the source :)


His response is a link that is the same as TFA.


I mean... Maybe we should try it




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