Nuking hurricanes is the newest absurd idea of President Trump

Nuking hurricanes is the newest absurd idea of President Trump
© Aaron Schwartz

Somewhere in a dusty archive of rejected 1950s science fiction movie screenplays must be one where a mad but well intentioned scientist detonates an atomic blast to stop a killer hurricane. We know how it ends with the creation of a mutant creature able to spew radioactive breaths at 80 miles an hour. This week, campy film met a campy presidency. Donald Trump played the role of the mad scientist, asking the members of his administration about using nuclear weapons to stop hurricanes. I get that presidents sometimes blow hot air, but radioactive energy?

A president who disputes most of the respected and accepted scientists of the world wants to monkey around with the climate using science that was the rough basis of “Sharknado.” Life, and potentially millions of deaths caused by one radioactive wind shift, imitates art. I have given up worrying about that little box carrying the nuclear codes. I am more worried about that big screen in the White House where loose cannon pundits and old Flash Gordon plots may become the next executive order.

Forget the 25th Amendment. Can someone just cancel the White House cable television subscription? Or at least replace the SciFi network with NatGeo? What next? Hot tub time machines? Killer tomatoes at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency? Trump claims he never proposed the idea of nuking hurricanes and that it is “fake news.”


But there are multiple sources who confirm he said it. Moreover, are we not a tad bit skeptical of a president who, almost on a daily basis, says he did not say what we all heard him say? He is the presidential equivalent of the toddler with chocolate smeared on his face who insists that he ate no chocolate. Still, this president is not the first leader to advance, shall we say, weird hairbrained solutions to our earthly problems.

Edward Teller, the theoretical physicist who helped bring us the atom bomb, thought we could create a new harbor in Alaska by exploding a series of nuclear bombs along the coastline. Those nuclear bombs would blow massive holes, ocean water would rush in, and presto, an instant port. I think another advantage would be a glowing waterside tourist attraction. Think of the profits on the hazmat ponchos!

In the 1970s, the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission dabbled with shooting radioactive waste into the sun. This seemed a better alternative, literally by far, than Nevada, and preferable to another idea to dump toxic waste in the middle of the Atlantic. Then there was the rumored 1975 federal study on exploding nuclear bombs in a cavern beneath Texas in order to superheat steam and generate power. Even as a Democrat, I am against turning a red state into a glowing red state.

According to Wired, Julian Huxley, the brother of novelist Aldous Huxley and founding director of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, had suggested that nuclear weapons could be used to flood the Sahara and let the landscape “blossom.” Eddie Rickenbacker, the renowned flying ace in World War I, suggested that nuclear weapons could “help miners” and businesses access minerals in Antarctica.

Flood the Grand Canyon to cool the desert! Drain the rivers of Alaska to end drought in California! At one time, crazy ideas received serious contemplation by some pretty sharp minds, and even “very stable geniuses” to quote the flowery, if peculiar, way our president described himself. But logic and sanity had, thankfully, always prevailed. The ideas were definitely better off as film pitches instead of federal policy. 

This brings me back to art imitating life. I think my favorite made for film president appeared in the hilarious parody “Spaceballs.” Mel Brooks played President Waylon Skroob, who was comically inept in his villainy. In the film, Skroob learns that his planet is losing air and helps devise a scheme to suck the air out of nearby Druidia. A modern day sequel might make Druidia pay for it. We laugh at Skroob because we know he is a classic parody sharply exaggerating the characteristics of others. Let us hope for our sake that President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden holds massive cash advantage over Trump ahead of Election Day Tax records show Trump maintains a Chinese bank account: NYT Trump plays video of Biden, Harris talking about fracking at Pennsylvania rally MORE never watches “Spaceballs.”

Steve IsraelSteven (Steve) J. IsraelA tearful lesson of 2016: Polls don't matter if people don't vote The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump previews SCOTUS nominee as 'totally brilliant' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump, Biden intensify battleground focus as 2020 race tightens MORE represented New York in Congress for 16 years and served as the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from 2011 to 2015. He is now the director of the Institute of Politics and Global Affairs at Cornell University. You can find him on Twitter @RepSteveIsrael.