The internet is abuzz with stories about CIA involvement in geoengineering research, following a new Mother Jones article titled "CIA Backs $630,000 Scientific Study on Controlling Global Climate." Despite cries of vindication from some conspiracy theorists, the actual facts behind the headlines are rather mundane. The CIA, along with NOAA and NASA, is supporting a National Academies of Science (NAS)-led 21-month project called "Geoengineering Climate: Technical Evaluation and Discussion of Impacts." The purpose of the project is to "conduct a technical evaluation of a limited number of proposed geoengineering techniques, ... and comment generally on the potential impacts of deploying these technologies, including possible environmental, economic, and national security concerns." Asked to explain, a CIA spokesman replied, "It's natural that on a subject like climate change the Agency would work with scientists to better understand the phenomenon and its implications on national security."
In truth, this is a relatively small-scale, fairly unremarkable research project that has been openly discussed in the public domain for some time now. The outcome is likely to be indistinguishable from many other assessments and reports previously published on geoengineering. Indeed, the CIA arguably would be negligent in its duties if it failed to keep abreast of current developments in this field. But facts, or the absence thereof, too often lose out in competition with uninformed speculation and unrestrained flights of fancy. Chemtrails, anyone?