Tuesday, September 21, 2010

James Rodger Fleming's "Fixing the Sky"

James Rodger Fleming is a historian of science and technology and professor of science, technology, and society at Colby College. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), elected "for pioneering studies on the history of meteorology and climate change and for the advancement of historical work within meteorological societies." He recently held the Charles A. Lindbergh Chair in Aerospace History at the Smithsonian Institution and the AAAS Roger Revelle Fellowship in Global Stewardship while a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Fixing the Sky tells two stories of rain fakers: the charlatans Doctor Sykes and Colonel Stingo who conducted a weather betting scam at Belmont race track, and Irving Krick, who sold rainmaking to farmers and prepared weather forecasts “tailored to be just what the client wanted to hear.” This page addresses the checkered history and tragicomedy of weather control and its commercialization, but does not reveal some of the other themes in the book: climate control, militarization of the sky, and the role that history can play in public policy.

Of course what appears on page 99 is an artifact of the book designer, not the author. In this case, the dust jacket image, worth a thousand words, may be more revealing than page 99.
Read an excerpt from Fixing the Sky and learn more about the book at the Columbia University Press website, and visit James Rodger Fleming's "Atmosphere" website.

--Marshal Zeringue