The Weekly Winston: Climate Change and Technology Edition

Since we’re on the subject of climate change here in recent days, herewith Churchill’s musings about climate and technology from his essay “Fifty Years Hence,” published in the late 1920s and available now in Thoughts and Adventures.  Part of this passage is a tolerably good anticipation of “geoengineering,” or “solar radiation management.”

The discovery and control of such sources of power [such as nuclear] would cause changes in human affairs incomparably greater than those produced by the steam-engine four generations ago.  Schemes of cosmic magnitude would become feasible.  Geography and climate would obey our orders. . .  The amount of rain falling yearly upon the Epsom racecourse would be enough to thaw all of the ice at the Arctic and Antarctic poles.  The changing of one element into another by means of temperatures and pressures would be far beyond our present reach, would transform beyond all description our standards and values.  Materials thirty times stronger than the best steel would create engines fit to bridle the new forms of power.  Communications and transport by land, water, and air would take unimaginable forms, if, as is in principle possible, we could make an engine of 600 horsepower, weighing 20 lbs and carrying fuel for a thousand hours in a tank the size of a fountain pen.  Wireless telephones and television, following naturally upon their present path of development, would enable their owner to connect up with any rom similarly installed, and hear or take part in the conversation as well as if he put his head in through the window.

P.S. News item just out from MIT’s Technology Review: “We Need Nuclear-Powered Airplanes.”


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