The CIA along with NASA and NOAA is reportedly funding a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) project whose goal is to study several geoengineering options aimed at reversing global warming. Dana Liebelson and Chris Mooney have written an article which has been printed in both Slate and MotherJones claiming that William Kearney, a spokesman for NAS told them that the CIA is the "US intelligence community" member identified on the NAS web site describing the project.
Geoengineering projects are any attempts to alter the way the planet or its weather systems operate. The project at NAS is not to conduct any such engineering but to study several options that have been suggested by people in the geoengineering community as a means of reversing global warming. Such options include sending particles into the atmosphere to reflect back some of the sun's heat, or building a machine that could suck carbon out of the atmosphere and sequester it somewhere. NAS has been given $630,000 to conduct the study which is to last 21 months.
More specifically, the project goals are to study ways in which weather patterns might be artificially influenced, assess possible negative impacts of doing so and to try to determine national security issues related to global warming or trying to reverse it. The CIA has previously looked into the issue of global warming as it applies to national security and even had a research center dedicated to its efforts. That center was closed down last year, however, after members of the U.S. Congress objected to the agency's involvement in such activities. It's not yet known how government officials will respond to this new initiative or whether private entities (conspiracy theorists) will consider such funding part of a larger effort by the agency to exert control over the rest of the world.
To date, there have already been attempts to alter the weather—the U.S. military (carrying out a CIA plan) famously tried to make it rain more during the Vietnam War to bog down enemy supply lines. More recently, China tried seeding clouds prior to the Summer Olympics hoping to cause rain to fall before reaching Beijing. A private company also recently seeded a portion of the ocean off the coast of Canada with the idea of igniting plankton growth that would suck carbon out of the air. Unfortunately, testing whether any such efforts have actually worked has proven difficult, if not impossible—how can you determine if the amount of rain that fell after cloud seeding, was more than it would have been otherwise?
Due to its efforts, it's clear the CIA is taking the issue of global warning very seriously. Changes in geography, could for example, cause wars. If snow pack melts, more land becomes available, also new shipping lanes will open up—both could become zones of contention. There is also the possibility of strife as some areas receive more rainfall and others less.
For its part, NAS will be building on research that has already been conducted by other groups. The U.K.'s Royal Society, for example, conducted a similar study back in 2009. The academy insists that it will make all findings public once the study is complete.
Explore further: Effects of sea spray geoengineering on global climate