The CIA is currently funding, in part, a $630,000 study on geoengineering, the science of using experimental techniques to modify Earth's climate.
With the spooks' money, scientists will study how humans might influence weather patterns, assess the potential dangers of messing with the climate, and investigate possible national security implications of geoengineering attempts.
The study calls for information on two geoengineering techniques in particular, "solar radiation management (SRM)," which refers to launching material into Earth's atmosphere to try and block the Sun's infrared radiation, limiting global temperature rise; and "carbon dioxide removal (CDR)," which refers to exactly what it sounds like, taking carbon dioxide emissions out of the climate, which scientists have proposed doing through a variety of means, from structures that eat air pollution to capturing carbon emissions as they come out of smokestacks.
if geoengineering is cheap and "fundamentally doable," as claimed, that suggests foreign countries, or even wealthy individuals, could mess with the climate to advance their own ends. "This whole issue of lone actors: Do we need to be concerned about China acting unilaterally? Is that just idle chatter, or is that something the US government should prepare for?" asks Ken Caldeira, a geoengineering researcher at the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology and a member of the current National Academy of Sciences panel.