The Spectator

Is Trump’s suggestion to bomb hurricanes really that stupid?

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Blowing against the wind

President Trump was ridiculed for suggesting that hurricanes could be impeded on their passage across the Atlantic by bombing them. Yet there is nothing new in trying to stop or reduce the power of hurricanes by artificial means.

— Between 1962 and 1971 the US government ran an experiment called Project Stormfury to try just that. The idea was to spray the eye of a hurricane with silver iodide crystals in the hope that it would stimulate the development of a second ‘eyewall’ of cloud, in competition with the first, thereby helping to break up the storm. The method was tried on four hurricanes over eight separate days.

— Following four of those events wind speeds were measured to have fallen by between 10 and 30 per cent, and in the other cases wind speeds were unchanged.

— The project was formally stopped in 1983, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration concluded those results had been down to chance.

Fire figures

Are global forest fires really getting worse?

(Number of forest fires in millions, Jan-Aug)

2019

3.04m

2018

2.81m

2017

2.71m

2016

2.95m

2015

3.03m

2014

2.92m

2013

2.84m

2012

3.33m

2011

2.93m

2010

3.08m

2009

2.93m

2008

3.11m

2007

3.23m

2006

2.91m

2005

3.29m

2004

3.21m

Source: globalforestwatch.com, using data from Nasa MODIS satellites

Porky pies

A pork-pie maker from Melton Mowbray questioned Boris Johnson’s claim that the town exports pies to Iceland and Thailand.

— Melton Mowbray’s association with pork pies has been traced back to 1831 when Edward Alcock, described in a directory as a ‘pork and veal pie manufacturer’, started making them in his shop in Leicester Street.

— In 1890 another manufacturer, Evans and Hill, reported receiving a large order from Borneo, though it is unclear how the pies were preserved on the journey.

— The first world war ended much of the international trade in pork pies. But in 2016 Mintel reported that British shoppers spent a total of £165.3 million on the product.