[Essay] The Teratologists — Louis Armand

Washington, 25 August 2019. Scenario: A lunatic is in the White House. Like a slow-motion car crash, the US administration embarks on a catastrophic trade war with China, the systematic sabotaging of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, a series of proxy wars with Iran, and nuclear brinkmanship with North Korea. At the point of maximum tension, the President directs the Joint Chiefs of Staff to deploy atomic weapons against hurricane ‘Dorian’, which was tracking westward across the Caribbean and threatening landfall at the President’s private golf resort in Florida. Were this a film, it could only be the worst type of science fiction, and few would believe it. But what if it were real?

Wednesday, 11 October 1961. During what has since become a now notorious speech to the National Press Club in Washington, the director of the United States Weather Bureau at the time, Francis W. Reichelderfer, told his audience that he “could imagine the possibility someday of exploding a nuclear bomb on a hurricane far at sea,” even suggesting that at some point in the future the Weather Bureau could acquire its own nuclear arsenal.[1] On the same day, the front page of the Newark Advocate (Ohio) carried a story entitled ‘FALLOUT EFFECT FROM RED A-BOMBS TERMED SLIGHT’, deeming “Any genetic damage caused by fallout from the current series of Russian nuclear explosions will be so slight, in the opinion of a Public Health Service physician, that it might not be discernible even after several generations.” Other headlines included ‘BRITAIN STANDS FIRM WITH US ON BERLIN’ and ‘HOFFA INDICTED FOR FRAUD’. Coverage of Reichelderfer’s speech appeared in the bottom left corner: ‘NUCLEAR BOMBS PLANNED TO BREAK UP HURRICANES’. The article, sourced from Associated Press, noted that “The idea of using bombs of any type against storms ‘is still only in the gleam-in-the-eye stage.’” While proposing an arbitrary 1 megaton starting point for consideration of nuclear intervention against extreme weather events, and citing cost as a factor, Reichelderfer inadvertently became the first government official to reveal a concrete figure for the hydrogen bomb—a highly classified piece of information. The figure was $1 million for one megaton.[2]

Also reporting on the story, the Wilmington Morning News (Delaware) gave a fuller picture of US research into developing a “storm killer,” quoting Reichelderfer in its page 17 story as cautioning that an H-bomb “might simply intensify a storm.” It noted, however, that the Weather Bureau had held “informal discussions with the Atomic Energy Commission about the theoretical use of nuclear explosions to kill hurricanes.” A thousand times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, the acquisition of the thermonuclear “hydrogen” bomb represented, to those privy to the fact, an incommensurably greater paradigm shift. In 1952, while studying the atmospheric effects of the US’s first full-scale test of an H-bomb, codenamed Ivy Mike—which produced a mushroom cloud 41 km high and 32 km in diameter—Air Force meteorologist Jack W. Reed first conceived of employing similar detonations for meteorological ends. Reed, who later participated in the US government’s Plowshare Program (to develop “peaceful” applications of nuclear weapons technology) and was a member of the US Army Engineer Nuclear Cratering Group, first presented his ideas in 1956 during the International Geophysical Year and, in 1959, he submitted a detailed two-part proposal to the second Plowshares Symposium, entitled “Some Speculations on the Effects of Nuclear Explosions on Hurricanes.”[3] In Reed’s view, a “megaton explosion” at the centre  of a hurricane, where wind temperatures average 10 degrees higher than the rest of the storm, would ”engulf and entrain a large quantity of this hot ‘eye’ air and carry it out of the storm into the stratosphere.” The compensating flow of colder air was expected to sap the hurricane of its overall strength, rendering it benign. It was this proposal that became the basis for Reichelderfer’s speech two years later and an object of serious experimental consideration.

The month before Reichelderfer’s address to the National Press Club, “weather scientists” had dropped around 50kg of seeding material on Hurricane Esther, a category 4 hurricane in the North Atlantic which was the first large tropical cyclone to be detected using imagery from the new Television Infrared Observation Satellite. The storm was also the first target of a US Navy weather-modifying experiment that later came to be known as Project Stormfury (1962-1983), a successor of Project Cirrus, a failed one-off collaboration between General Electric and the US Army Signal Corps in 1947. On 13 September, a navy aircraft flew into the eye of the hurricane approximately 400 miles north of Puerto Rico, releasing canisters of silver iodine (an inorganic compound with a crystalline structure similar to that of ice, thus capable of inducing freezing by a process of heterogeneous nucleation). It was hypothesized that the silver iodine would cause supercooled water already within the storm system to freeze, releasing latent heat in the eyewall and disrupting the hurricane’s internal structure—an hypothesis later shown to be incorrect, due to the insufficient amount of supercooled water contained in most tropical storms of magnitude and to the fact that such storms were already subject to internal dynamics identical to those believed to have been induced by seeding. In any case, it didn’t work. The Morning News report on Reichelderfer’s speech noted that, with respect to the seeding of Hurricane Esther, while “Radar photographs indicated a segment of the storm’s eyewall was rained-out as a result. But the wall quickly reformed, the storm’s course was not affected, and its intensity was reduced only temporarily, if at all.”

At a time of nuclear optimization, as the 1960s were, the progression from cloud-seeding to H-bombs had the appearance of a natural economy of scale. Throughout the 1950s US military and civilian applications of nuclear technology proliferated, in part driven by Eisenhower’s 1953 “Atoms for Peace” programme, which directed research in particular towards electricity production. With the commissioning of the Calder Hill reactor in the UK in 1956, followed a year later by Shippingport in the US, and with the construction of large commercial reactors by General Electric and Westinghouse in 1960, atomic power finally moved from the realm of science fiction and predominantly military application into the banality of everyday life. And for at least a decade—until the anti-nuclear movement, increasing costs of constructing new reactors and a series of accidents (culminating in the partial core meltdown at Three Mile Island in 1979) took the glow off the atomic age—proposals like Reichelderfer’s appeared almost self-evident to a public grown expectant of ever-greater scales of technological development and their potential for application on a “global” scale.

While human activity from the earliest times has been characterised by environmental transformation—the cumulative effects of which, vastly accelerated by industrialisation, have produced an indelible global environmental impact event: the Anthropocene—post-war nuclear technologies represented the first instance in which direct transformation or even control of the planetary environment as a whole came into view as a scientifically achievable proposition. The term “terraforming” had been coined by Jack Williamson in a short story entitled “Collision Orbit,” published in Astounding Science Fiction in 1942 – appearing at the same time as the Blitz-bombing of London, which was soon to be followed by thousand-bomber formations of the allied air forces over Germany and the advent of atomic warfare. Williamson’s term drew upon cosmic contingencies like impact events as proto-technologies of planetary engineering but, in the wake of vastly expanded war-time industry and economies of scale, direct human agency became the defining factor in the term’s subsequent use. With the birth of the US and Soviet space programmes—both having developed out of ICBM missile projects based on the captured Nazi V2—and with Apollo architect Wernher von Braun militating for interplanetary colonisation, consideration was increasingly given to questions of technologically modifying the atmosphere, temperature, surface topology or ecology of planetary or planetoid bodies for the purposes of human habitation.

The ideological and logistical dimensions of terraforming, as applied globaltechnology of a magnitude only previously approached by the phenomenon of world war, thus began to come into view in the period between 24 October 1946, when a re-fitted V2 rocket launched from White Sands, New Mexico, took the first photograph of Earth from space, and 12 April 1961, when Yuri Gagarin became the first person to orbit the planet. This was the period in which an emergent global consciousness achieved a kind of apotheosis—pictorially and as direct experience—and the Earth itself became an object of human contemplation. In 1962, when Donald Brennan at the Hudson Institute in 1962 coined the expression “Mutually Assured Destruction” (M.A.D.), this object of contemplation became one of direct, intentional and singular technological transformation.

As a blueprint, the terraforming logic of M.A.D. had much to be desired, but it was the seeming demonstrable fact that carried the argument: truly global technologies, analogous in scope to entire ecosystems, were deemed achievable. The period encompassing the Apollo lunar programme (inaugurated in 1961) and the commissioning of the satellite-based radionavigational system known as GPS in 1978, appeared to confirm this: the logistical horizon which in the past had represented an insurmountable obstacle now offered an entirely different prospectus. Reed’s Plowshare proposal for nuking hurricanes was entirely pragmatic in this respect: “When the first public announcement of atomic bombs dropped on Japan came at the height of the Florida hurricane season,” he wrote in his introduction, “the press and public began immediate speculation on their use in controlling destructive storms. However, as information on actual bomb yields became known… it appeared obvious that atomic bombs could not compare with large natural systems in converting energy.” He then adds: “Even thermonuclear weapons, a thousand times more powerful than bombs dropped on Japan, yield an energy which is equivalent to that transformed in only five minutes by a mature hurricane.” However, “Since megaton thermonuclear devices do release energies at rates only a few orders of magnitude smaller than do tropical storms, such large yield nuclear explosives might be used for triggering some indirect or ‘divergent’ system, which would result in storm deflection or dissipation.”[4]

Although the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (1963) and later the Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty (1990: limiting yields for non-military use to 150 kilotons), among other considerations, have limited the application of Reed’s ideas, Plowshare actively pursued a wide spectrum of similar applications. Serious proposals were advanced for deploying nuclear devices to create an artificial harbour in Alaska (Project Chariot), to widen the Panama Canal and to create a new “Pan-Atomic Canal” at sea-level across Nicaragua, while 22 nuclear explosions were proposed for Project Carryall, to blast an interstate road and rail link through the Bristol Mountains in the Mojave Desert. Major objectives also included controlled blasts used to connect underground aquifers in Arizona and to aid natural gas stimulation and shale oil extraction (otherwise known as fracking) in Texas. Before Plowshare was quietly mothballed in 1977, it had produced radioactive blast debris from some 839 underground nuclear test explosions. “Sedan,” a 104 kiloton experiment in earthmoving conducted at Yucca Flat (Nevada) in 1964, resulted in twin radioactive plumes that reached an altitude of 3.7 kilometres and drifted north-east as far as Illinois, releasing an estimated 880,000 curies of radioactive iodine-131 into the atmosphere—the highest acknowledged fallout of any nuclear test in the continental US. For this cost, it succeeded in displacing 11 million tons of soil, causing a seismic disturbance of 4.75 on the Richter scale and leaving a crater 100m deep.

While these results bear out obvious flaws in the general applicability of the nuclear doctrine, Reed’s remarks remain worthy of further consideration for other reasons. Although much of Plowshare’s agenda was directed at the instrumentalising of nuclear weapons in piecemeal efforts at environmental transformation—with the potential for consolidation into a general “positive science” of terraforming— Reed’s observations about “divergent systems” point to the fundamentally tactical character of such experiments and their susceptibility to the effects of complexity in dynamic systems like hurricanes. The branching of cybernetics into what came to be known as Chaos Theory, mediated by the work of Yoshisuke Ueda on “randomly transitional phenomena” and Edward Lorenz on weather prediction in 1961, was able to provide a framework (formalised by 1977, at precisely the time Plowshare was terminated) in which the crudely targeted effects of tactical nuclear weapons on what Carl Sagan called “planetary ecosynthesis”[5] could evolve beyond the tabula rasa logic of “storm killing nukes” and M.A.D. into a strategy of sustainable terraformation.

It is perhaps no coincidence that astronomer Sagan published around the same time a proposal for the “planetary engineering” of Venus based upon seeding the planet’s cloud-cover with algae intended to convert water, nitrogen and carbon dioxide into organic compounds, thus reducing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and consequently bringing surface temperatures to a habitable level in a reversal of the greenhouse effect.[6] Unknown to Sagan, however, the sulphuric acid of which the Venusian cloud-cover is, in fact, largely composed, coupled to high atmospheric pressure, rendered such a proposal meaningless. Sagan’s idea, however, gave rise to similar proposals for “ecopoiesis”—what Robert Haynes called the “fabrication of a sustainable ecosystem on a currently lifeless, sterile planet”[7]— including the introduction of chlorofluorocarbons into the Martian atmosphere to promote a self-regulating biosphere.[8] In 2015, space entrepreneur Elon Musk, refashioning an idea put forward by physicist Michio Kaku,[9] announced during an appearance on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert on CBS that nuclear devices instead might be used to create “pulsing suns” over the Martian poles to melt the polar ice, with a view to releasing trapped carbon dioxide to thicken the atmosphere and promote “global warming,” restoring liquid water to the planet’s surface and thus preparing conditions for general habitability and commercial exploitation.[10] 

Musk’s headline-grabbing remarks recalled similar suggestions that thermonuclear detonations might be used to reactivate magnetic fields and geologic activity on Mars, with a view to shielding the planet from solar radiation and inducing “geothermal forcing.” But while Musk’s proposal was widely ridiculed, and dismissed outright by NASA as technologically unfeasible, the case for terraforming Mars with nukes, like that for terminating hurricanes, has a history of serious consideration. One such is a 1996 paper by Anthony C. Muscatello and Michael G. Houts, of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, entitled “Surplus Weapons-Grade Plutonium: A Resource for Exploring and Terraforming Mars.” In it they argue, with an eye to the greatest nuclear waste disposal scam of the century, that “The end of the Cold War has presented the world with a great dilemma and a great opportunity. Greater than 100 metric tons (MT) of weapons-grade plutonium (WGPu) are now surplus to defence needs in the United States and the former Soviet Union…  Implementation of this proposal to use WGPu for nuclear reactors for Mars exploration and colonisation would allow resolution of this serious, expensive problem on Earth by removing the problem from the planet and would simultaneously provide a very large energy source.“ [11]

There is a sense in which all of these propositions tend towards what we might call a positivist pseudo-science, where speculative real-world problems are mapped onto an ideological framework in which they seek to be reified as self-evident in the defining contest over a certain futurity. Behind such speculative ecologies, however, remains an operation of political/economic capital based upon an “instrumentality” which is not that of a naïve conception of reason, or of a “prosthesis”  of reason, but is itself a technological rationale. Seemingly exotic financial instruments like weather derivatives are paradigmatic in this respect. Based on the principle of risk management and weather insurance, weather derivatives are tradable “futures,” or hedges, famously exploited by Enron Corporation with its launch, in November 1999, of EnronOnline—an electronic trading platform for energy commodities— and more recently by the Speedwell WeaterGroups weatherXchange® (launched in 2017). Even so, projects like Stormfury and Plowshare almost inevitably invite comparison to megalomaniacal world-domination schemes like Fu Manchu’s diabolic ocean-freezing device[12] and the weather-control systems of popular sci-fi, like Samuel Johnson’s Mad Scientist in Rasselas (“I have possessed, for five years, the regulation of the weather, and the distribution of seasons: the sun has listened to my dictates, and passed, from tropick to tropick, by my direction; the clouds, at my call, have poured their waters…”[13]), or pseudo-scientific quackery like Wilhelm Reich’s cloudbusting experiments with “orgone energy” in the 1950s.[14] Yet it should be unsurprising that it is precisely this hyperstitional aspect of projects like Stormfury and Plowshare that becomes the instrumental agency in their realisation under the appearance of what is, or seemingly ought to be, most “fictional.”[15] 

Operation Popeye is one such: a top secret weather-modification programme pursued in Indochina between 1967-1972 by the 54th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, as part of the US-led war with North Vietnam. Popeye was ostensibly a cloud-seeding operation, aimed at intensifying and extending the tropical monsoon season, specifically localised over the region of the Ho Chi Minh Trail in eastern Laos, north-eastern Cambodia and the far west of North Vietnam—in tandem with the aerial dispersal of the “tactical use” defoliant Agent Orange (Operation Ranch Hand). Agent Orange was a mixture of two herbicides known as 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D, each containing the dioxin TCDD (the most toxic of its kind), and was shown by the US National Academy of Medicine to be connected through direct exposure with soft tissue sarcoma, Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Hodgkin disease, chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, as well as respiratory cancers, and was responsible for birth defects through prenatal exposure, including mental disabilities and physical deformities such as cleft palate and polydactyly (additional fingers and toes). Agent Orange also had extensive ecological impact, with dioxins persistent in the soil entering into the food chain, resulting in biomagnification that has severely affected plant and animal diversity.[16]

Combined with the intended objective of Ranch Hand to defoliate, and thus expose to aerial surveillance, the area around the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the intensified rainfall generated by Operation Popeye was additionally intended to deprive the North Vietnamese of functional use of the area by softening roads, causing landslides, washing out river crossings, and maintaining saturated soil conditions beyond the normal time span (the operation’s motto was “Make Mud, Not War”). Such operations became the ostensible object of the 1978 Environmental Modification Convention banning “weather warfare.” (In 2010 the Convention on Biological Diversity further restricted weather modification and geoengineering.) Together, Popeye and Ranch Hand ramify what already, in the wake of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, had emerged as a dominant theme within the latent discourse of ecopoiesis, perhaps best communicated by the 19th-century French neologism teratology— the study of signs sent by the gods, portents, marvels, monsters (Reed’s “divergent systems,” no doubt, producing Godzillas instead of monster hurricanes). The idea of an instrumental technology began to give way, here, to the idea of uncontrolled mutation, catalysed by a technicity that is no longer “at the service” of an external (human) agency, but itself constitutes that agency; whose operations are consequently visible (to the human) only through ruptures in linear causation and a naïve rationalism. This came to define a logistical as well as ideological divide, exemplified by competing “thought experiments” in ecology, cybernetics and artificial intelligence, on the one hand, and a brute force attempt to reduce complexity to a tabula rasa, on the other, in an effort to reconstitute competing systems of “control” over such eruptions of the Real.

In The Planet Remade: How Geoengineering Could Change the World, Oliver Morton notes that the computer hardware for modelling the atmosphere was the same as that used for simulating the hydrogen bomb design developed in 1945 by Edward Teller. The computer concerned was in fact the first fully programmable electronic computer, ENIAC, designed by John von Neumann (formerly attached to the Manhattan Project), and the H-bomb simulation was its first assigned task. Not uncoincidentally, by 1950, von Neumann, along with meteorologist Jule Charney, also began processing weather predictions through ENIAC, aimed at producing “new insights into controlling it.”[17] At around the same time ENIAC began work on the H-bomb, biologist Julian Huxley, the first secretary general of UNESCO, gave a speech at Madison Square Gardens hailing a new atomic era, echoing an earlier pronouncement about the promises of radium in 1906 by Frederick Soddy, who envisaged the power to “transform a desert continent, thaw the frozen poles, and make the whole world one smiling garden of Eden.”[18] For his part, Huxley envisaged adapting atomic power to flood the Sahara and “alter the entire climate of the North Temperate Zones by exploding… at most a few hundred atomic bombs at an appropriate height above the polar regions?”[19] 

In addition, Huxley supported a June 1946 proposal by Bernard Baruch, the US representative to the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission, based on the Acheson-Lilienthal Report from March of the same year, advocating international control of atomic energy—including nuclear weapons—as a step towards a possible future “world government.” Such a government was intended to assume responsibility for “social planning on a world-wide basis,” from geoengineering to eugenics. Albert Einstein similarly came out as a signatory of “One World or None,” the world-government manifesto of the Federation of American Scientists, while Von Neumann, on the other hand, rejected the Baruch Plan of human governance in favour of cybernetic systems of “global control” (including industrial processes, the world economy and climate). It was in such an ideological climate that Jose Delgado, Director of Neuropsychology at Yale University Medical School, pursued an investigation into electrical brain implants (in part for the treatment of epilepsy) that led, in 1969, to the publication of Physical Control of the Mind: Towards  Psychocivlized Society and later, in 1974, to Delgado’s testimony before US Congress to the effect that “We need a program of psychosurgery for political control of our society. The purpose is physical control of the mind. Everyone who deviates from the given norm can be surgically mutilated.”[20]

Delgado’s surgical mind-control research overlapped with the US government’s secret pursuit of a psy-ops programme developed through the CIA’s Office of Scientific Intelligence and the US Army’s Biological Warfare Laboratories, between 1953 and 1973—known to the public, after the 1975 revelations by the commission convened by Gerald Ford into illegal CIA activities within the United States, as Project MKUltra. Its wide remit for developing chemical and psychological warfare techniques included drug-induced brainwashing, memory erasure and mass psychosis, in a logical continuum with Popeye’s environmental modifications and Stormfury’s brute force tabula rasa. MKUltra was driven in part by a belief within the CIA—like that publicly expressed by Delgado—that control of the human mind would represent nothing less than global political mastery, and this synergy between ecopoiesis and psychocivilisation brings into view a dimension of Gregory Bateson’s phrase “ecology of mind”[21] that might best be described as teratogenesis—not as a symptomatology (the production of monstrosities), but as the  “mental characteristics” of a technological condition (the mode-of-production itself of the so-called Anthropocene—of which all of these grandiose schemes are truly psychotic attempts at instrumentalisation).

Von Neumann’s cybernetic vision of world economic and ecological “governance” became a central tenet of Buckminster Fuller’s general systems theory, or synergetics: a global geodesic megastructure of “comprehensively commanded automation” and mutually ramifying life-support systems constitutive of “spaceship Earth.” In Fuller’s view, “The synergistic effectiveness of a world-around integrated industrial process is inherently greater than the confined synergistic effect of sovereignly operating separate systems. Ergo, only complete world desovereignisation can permit the realization of an all humanity high standard support.”[22] One recent iteration of this idea is Benjamin Bratton’s “Cloud Megastructures and Platform Utopias,” in which planetary-scale computation is transformed from an accidental, contingent array of what Fuller calls “sovereignly operating separate systems” into a global “Stack.”[23] Bratton’s idea is to adapt principles of urbanism to a problem of general ecological governance, by way of renovated conception of terraforming. In his 2020 programme presentation for the Strelka Institute in Moscow, Bratton stated: “The term ‘terraforming’ usually refers to transforming the ecosystems of other planets or moons to make them capable of supporting Earth-like life, but the looming ecological consequences of what is called the Anthropocene suggest that in the decades to come we will need to terraform Earth if it is to remain a viable host for Earth-like life.”[24] 

Bratton’s terraforming as post-Anthropocenic survival strategy—a “proposition for urbanism at planetary scale”—nevertheless has echoes of an architectonic messianism (the “engineer of human souls”) evident from Fuller to Reed in its geo-social vision, in which “world desovereignisation” tends towards the meta-sovereignty of The Architect—irrespective of whether this architect is a “human” agent or a “dead-hand” automated cybernetic system. What remains at issue is not the self-regulatory capability of such governance systems, or their capacity to substitute a form of risk-averse ecological management for environmental “human error” on a sufficiently large scale, but the very developmental toxicity of its logic. The belief in weaponised evolutionary processes—even if these amount in practice to a type of digital cloud-seeding—remains forever bound by the paradox of an appeal to a technological “fail safe”: the transcendental signified of a runaway process of “desoveriegnised” hyperstition by which the post-Anthropocene, like the posthumanist fallacy on which it is premised, returns dividends for “Earth-like life” in an endless rehearsal of the cosmic embryo in Stanely Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1068). Yet there is no escaping the fact that this reborn “star child”—the augury of a new world (and source of a life system cognisant of “ours”)—is not only the product of an “alien intelligence” (that terraforms Jupiter into a second sun by means of a type of thermonuclear detonation)[25], but of a logic no less synonymous with that mode of Corporate-State terror with which Reed and Reichelderfer were inevitably complicit, and which has only ever prefigured future “life” through an apocalyptic machinery of “salvation.”  

*

Louis Armand is a Prague writer, theorist, and visual artist.

His novels include GlassHouse (2018), The Combinations (Equus, 2016),  Breakfast at Midnight (2012), Clair Obscur (2011), Menudo (2005), The Garden (2001) & Canicule (2013). 

His theoretical works include Videology (2015), Solicitations (2013), Event States (2007), Literate Technologies (2006), The Organ-Grinder’s Monkey: Culture after the Avantgarde (2013), Helixtrolysis (2014), Incendiary Devices (2001), & Techne (1997).

He is the editor of Mind Factory (2005), Pornotopias (2008), Avant-Post (2006), Hidden Agendas: Unreported Poetics (2010), Pornoterrorism (with Jaromir Lekel; 2015), Technicity (with Arthur Bradley; 2006) & City Primeval: New York, Berlin, Prague (with Robert Carrithers; 2017).

He is formerly an editor of VLAK magazine & Directs the Centre for Critical & Cultural Theory at Charles University, Prague.

An earlier version of this essay was published in Vít Bohal and Dustin Breitling, eds. Speculative Ecologies: Plotting Through the Mesh (Prague: Univerzita Karlova Filozofická Fakulta, 2019).

This work was supported by the European Regional Development Fund Project “Creativity and Adaptability as Conditions of the Success of Europe in an Interrelated World”.


[1] “TNT Considered as ‘Storm Killer,’” Morning News, Wilmington, Delaware (11 October 1961): 17 [newspapers.com/clip/35291887/the_morning_news/].

[2] “Nuclear Bombs Planned to Break Up Hurricanes,” Newark Advocate (Ohio) (11 October 1961): 1 [newspaperarchive.com/Newark-advocate-oct-11-1961-p-1/]

[3] Jack W. Reed, “Some Speculations on the Effects of Nuclear Explosions on Hurricanes,” Proceedings of the Second Plowshare Symposium, May 13-15, 1959, San Francisco, California, Part V: Scientific Uses of Nuclear Explosives (San Francisco: Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, 1959) 78ff.

[4] Reed, “Some Speculations on the Effects of Nuclear Explosions on Hurricanes,” 78-79.

[5] Carl Sagan, “Planetary Engineering on Mars,” Icarus 20.4 (1973): 513.

[6] Carl Sagan, “The Planet Venus,’ Science 133.3456 (1961): 849-58.

[7] Robert H. Haynes, “Ecce Ecopoiesis: Playing God on Mars,” in Moral Expertise: Studies in Practical and Professional Ethics, ed. Don MacNiven (London: Routledge, 1990) 161-163.

[8] James Lovelock and Michael Allaby, The Greening of Mars (New York: St Martins Press, 1984).

[9] See The Future of Humanity: Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality and Our Destiny Beyond Earth (New York: Doubleday, 2018).

[10] See Loren MuGrush, “Elon Musk elaborates on his proposal to nuke Mars,” The Verge (2 October 2015): http://www.theverge.com/2015/10/2/9441029/elon-musk-mars-nuclear-bomb-colbert-interview-explained

[11] Anthony C. Muscatello and Michael G. Houts, of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, entitled “Surplus Weapons-Grade Plutonium: A Resource for Exploring and Terraforming Mars” (July 1996): inis.iaea.org/collection/NCLCollectionStore/_Public/28/064/28064933.pdf

[12] The Castle of Fu Manchu, dir. Jess Franco (1969).

[13] Samuel Johnson, The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia (London: W. Baynes and Son., 1824) 5:494.

[14] See Myron Sharaf, Fury on Earth: A Biography of Wilhelm Reich (New York: St Martins Press, 1983) 379-380.

[15] On hyperstition (a portmanteau of hyper + superstition, referring to “fictional entities” that “function causally to bring about their own reality”), see Nick Land, Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings 1987-2007 (Falmouth: Urbanomic, 2011) 554ff.

[16] See Daniel A. Vallero, Biomedical Ethics and Decision-Making in Biomedical and Biosystem Engineering (Amsterdam: Academic Press, 2007) 73.

[17] Oliver Morton, The Planet Remade: How Geoengineering Could Change the World (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015) 312ff.

[18] Qtd Morton, The Planet Remade, 313.

[19] Qtd Morton, The Planet Remade, 313.

[20] United States Congressional Record 118. 26 (24 February 1974): 4475.

[21] Gregory Bateson, “Conscious Purpose versus Nature,” Steps to an Ecology of Mind (St Albins: Paladin, 1973) 405.

[22] Buckminster Fuller, Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (Zürich: Lars Muller, 1968) 104. See also Buckminster Fuller, Synergetics: The Geometry of Thinking (New York: Macmillan, 1975).

[23] Benjamin H. Bratton, “Cloud Megastructures and Platform Utopias,” Entr’acte: Performing Publics, Pervasive Media, and

Architecture, ed. Jordan Geiger (London: Palgrave, 2015) 35.

[24] Benjamin H. Bratton, “Strelka 2020: New Programme Presentation” (27 August 2020): http://strelka.com/en/events/event/2019/08/27/strelka-2020-new-programme-presentation

[25] 2010: The Odyssey Continues, dir. Peter Hyams (1984)

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