So, Donald Trump reportedly believes that nuking hurricanes may stop them. On Sunday, Axios dropped a story in which sources claimed the president of the United States — who just randomly wished Sean Connery a most happy birthday — has at “multiple times” suggested to Homeland Security and national security officials that nukes could be the answer to the increasing ravages of climate change, which he doesn’t believe is real.
“I got it. I got it. Why don’t we nuke them?” Trump allegedly asked a group of staffers during one briefing. Then he laid out his brilliant plan: “They start forming off the coast of Africa, as they’re moving across the Atlantic, we drop a bomb inside the eye of the hurricane and it disrupts it. Why can’t we do that?” (Note: This was all paraphrased. Alas.)
Though the president’s plan was met with a customary “Sir, we’ll look into that,” few in present could believe their ears, even considering the source. “You could hear a gnat fart in that meeting,” as one source put it. “People were astonished. After the meeting ended, we thought, ‘What the f—? What do we do with this?'”
The Axios piece reports that Trump has talked about bombing hurricanes at least as far back as 2017, albeit not always with nuclear weapons, though his plans have never approached being put into practice.
One senior administration official did try to semi-defend it. “His goal — to keep a catastrophic hurricane from hitting the mainland — is not bad,” the official told Axios. This person continued:
“What people near the president do is they say, ‘I love a president who asks questions like that, who’s willing to ask tough questions.’ … It takes strong people to respond to him in the right way when stuff like this comes up. For me, alarm bells weren’t going off when I heard about it, but I did think somebody is going to use this to feed into ‘the president is crazy’ narrative.”
To his credit, Trump isn’t the first person to posit, out loud, to other humans in top seats of power, that bombing hurricanes may stop or mollify them. A government scientist during the Eisenhower era. It’s not clear if Eisenhower himself, though, agreed that it made sense.
One group that definitely doesn’t think it makes sense is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a government agency that studies and predicts changes in weather.
“Apart from the fact that this might not even alter the storm, 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,” they wrote in a fact sheet for the public, under the heading “Topical Cyclone Myths.” They concluded thusly: “Needless to say, this is not a good idea.”
Once this news hit the public sphere, it was, well, not well-received.
There were jokes, however darkly comic.
I think he just wants to nuke those hurricanes back to the shithole countries they come from. Also. “We are in the world of missiles folks, whether you like it or not.“ pic.twitter.com/h3zZsTUp0e
— Todd DiLaMuca (@DiLaMucaTodd) August 25, 2019
WHY CAN'T WE JUST DROP A NUKE IN THE EYE OF A HURRICANE?! pic.twitter.com/kP04DZWD8O
— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) August 25, 2019
Trump coming up with the idea of nuking hurricanes pic.twitter.com/EHTPa4OrDg
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 26, 2019
And Simpsons references.
— Abolish ICE. (@a_lolbrarian) August 25, 2019
But it largely inspired existential panic. Moreso than usual.
If we make it to election day, it will be a miracle. https://t.co/fohw8p66J3
— Schooley (@Rschooley) August 25, 2019
"Let's get that fuckn' ruskie hurricane yeeeeeee hah" pic.twitter.com/UfIlcOhRP8
— Masked Chosen One (@maskedscheduler) August 25, 2019
Some fact-checked the president’s plan.
The effect would be creating a nuclear hurricane, spreading radiation along the storm’s path pic.twitter.com/zB6GKM8n0a
— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) August 25, 2019
Detonating a nuclear bomb inside a hurricane would do nothing to disrupt the storm.
Instead, you now have a radioactive hurricane. 🌀 https://t.co/HBMPeZo2EA
— Ryan Maue (@RyanMaue) August 25, 2019
Others wondered when Trump’s latest bizarrely dumb idea would become normalized by his fellow Republicans.
So who is the first republican to defend asking about nuking hurricanes?
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) August 25, 2019
And it inspired impeachment talk, including from those he may be debating next year.
— Philippe Reines (@PhilippeReines) August 25, 2019
But most of all, it should serve as inspiration to get out there in November 2020.
Trump suggested nuking a hurricane. Hope everyone gets out there and votes in 2020.
— Adam Parkhomenko (@AdamParkhomenko) August 25, 2019
If we’re still here, of course.