Weather Made to Order, 1954
Weather control was a subject of considerable interest to the US military and national policy makers during the 1950s. Colliers magazine highlighted an article by Howard T. Orville, the chair of the Congressionally-mandated Advisory Committee on Weather Control. “In this age of the H-bomb and supersonic flight,” Orville wrote, “it is quite possible that science will find ways not only to dissipate incipient tornadoes and hurricanes, but to influence all our weather to a degree that staggers the imagination.” As a Navy meteorologist, Orville had charted the weather in support of the Doolittle Raid, and incorporated weather and climate information into the planning for the invasion of North Africa during World War II. By 1954, he could project a future for meteorology where radar, computers, and radiosondes were integrated with cloud seeding aircraft to produce a network of stations that would control the weather within 40 years. This would increase the nation’s military power, as well as insulate its economy from the harmful effects of drought, hail, and dangerous storms. James Rodger Fleming, whose book uses this image on its cover, noted that “although speculative and wildly optimistic, such ruminations from an official source helped fuel a weather race with the Russians and the rapid expansion of meteorological research in all areas, but especially in weather modification.”
This illustration was draw by Frederick (Fritz) Siebel (1913-1991), an Austrian-born artist who immigrated to United States in 1936. He illustrated movie posters for Paramount Pictures before serving in the US army from 1941-43. After his propaganda poster “Somebody Talked” won a contest judged by Eleanor Roosevelt, he drew for publishers and advertisers, including magazine covers for Colliers and The Saturday Evening Post. He created the iconic character Mr. Clean for Procter and Gamble in 1958. Children’s book readers will recognize his illustrations in the Amelia Bedelia series.
· Howard T. Orville, “Weather Made to Order?” Colliers (May 28, 1954): pp 25-29.
· James Rodger Fleming, Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control (Columbia University Press, 2010): 174-177.
· Gretchen Siebel and Fritz Siebel Jr., Fritz Siebel: ‘never felt that he needed to be recognized... but he was always proud.’ Today’s Inspiration Blog, October 11, 2012.