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What is causing erratic weather patterns?

Environment

What is causing erratic weather patterns?

It has now emerged that Cyclone Idai was preceded by a 3.8 magnitude earthquake, compounding the destructive effects of the cyclone. Are the erratic weather patterns in Africa the result of environmental warfare experiments gone awry? Baffour Ankomah reports.

It is said lightning never strikes the same place twice. But Zimbabwe got a double whammy on the night of 14 March when Cyclone Idai battered the picturesque Eastern Highlands shortly after, according to the government, a 3.8 magnitude earthquake hit the Chimanimani and Chipinge districts of the Eastern Highlands, leaving 344 people dead, hundreds of thousands homeless, several hundreds missing, scores of sleepy villages under rubble, and an estimated $1bn- worth of property destroyed.

The earthquake, acknowledged by the government only on 10 April, explains why there were massive landslides in the affected areas, flattening villages and leaving behind huge boulders and thick mud that had rolled from the top of the mountains and destroyed villages down below, burying some villagers under thick mud and stones as they slept in their beds when Idai hit the area.

On two visits to the affected areas, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, looking at the scale of the destruction, is said to have told his officials that some unexplained phenomenon happened in the Chimanimani and Chipinge areas and that the phenomenon could not simply be ascribed to Idai. The President asked them to investigate.

On 10 April, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa announced after a cabinet meeting that the “cabinet has established that the scale of the disaster was to some extent exacerbated by a 3.8 magnitude earthquake which hit the Chimanimani areas shortly before the onset of the cyclone.

“A team of experts is currently on the ground in the Chimanimani and Chipinge areas carrying out a disaster vulnerability assessment exercise with a view to determining the suitable long-term settlement and land use patterns,” she said, adding: “Priority continues to be accorded to the repair or construction of damaged roads, and bridges, school infrastructure, health infrastructure, and the provision of large-scale psycho-social support.”

The government has since launched an international humanitarian appeal, asking for help from international partners (to the tune of $612m) to assist the victims. 

Minister Mutsvangwa said “the search and recovery process is now confined to recovery of the deceased as the missing persons can now be presumed to be dead. Specialised equipment and the relevant expertise are being mobilised for the recovery of the bodies buried under massive rock debris.”

Was it geophysical warfare?

The magnitude of the devastation wrought by Idai and the earthquake has triggered a debate in elite Zimbabwean society about whether the combination of the earthquake and Idai was an electromagnetic or geophysical warfare event gone awry. The word used by the President is ‘phenomenon’.

Zimbabweans simply cannot understand the sheer ferocity of a supposedly natural event such as a cyclone leaving such destruction in its wake as to make the UN describe it as the worst weather-related natural disaster to hit the southern hemisphere in all history. World Vision called it “the strongest cyclone on record in the southern hemisphere”. 

Part of the debate has seen people going back to a 1996 New York Times article in which America’s leading newspaper wrote about the US military’s “recent” success in short-term rainmaking as a weapon of war. 

The paper reported: “Over the past decade a new term, geophysical warfare, has begun creeping into discussions of future types of military capability. A rough definition of the concept would be an act or acts of environmental engineering designed to change the flow of air and water in order to damage one side in a conflict and benefit the other.

“The most elementary type of geophysical warfare is short-term rainmaking with a military objective in view; but published discussion of these possibilities has gone much further. There has been speculation about the possibility of radically altering the climates of particular areas, and even of manipulating ocean levels…

“Geophysical warfare has now left the area of futuristic speculation and science fiction. The revelation that the United States has used rainmaking techniques for military purposes in Indochina has suddenly put this problem on the world’s agenda for international discussion…

“Even those who may feel that dropping rain on an enemy is better than dropping bombs must realise that rainmaking is only the first step. Once accepted as a normal military technique, geophysical warfare may some day be capable of drowning vast continental coastal areas, turning fruitful areas into deserts, and even perhaps ultimately of radically rearranging the entire world climate.

“It is not just enterprises of a military nature that need to be discussed and brought under international control. With man’s increasing powers, the risk becomes steadily greater that projects will be embarked upon whose ultimate impact on the environment may be as destructive for some nations and some peoples as if they had been the intended victims…

“The stated motivations for these and similar imaginative projects are usually praiseworthy and seemingly far distant from military objectives. Yet any major act of environmental engineering carries substantial risks because it is always accompanied by great potential for unintended side effects, for producing unanticipated changes that could harm – even devastate – some areas of the world.”

Accelerated drought periods

This has set tongues wagging in Zimbabwe. Were Idai and the earthquake “unintended side effects” of some powerful nation’s geophysical warfare games, they are asking. Have they become victims of the “projects” that The New York Times talked about, whose “ultimate impact on the environment may be as destructive for some nations and some peoples as if they had been the intended victims?”

As a result, some Zimbabweans are asking for a wider international debate on the Idai phenomenon, quoting SourceWatch.org which insists that: “Environmental war, however carried out, is almost always a violation of the 1978 United Nations Treaty against the modification of the environment. Thus, environmental weapons are developed in secret, and acts of environmental war are carried out covertly, as both environmental weapons and war are illegal under international law.”

According to SourceWatch.org: “Environmental war is generally carried out as a strategic deception [and the] weapons systems can include chemtrails, chemical weapons systems, climate and weather modification, electromagnetic weapons systems (which also include climate and weather modification) and seismic warfare.”

One academic has gone as far as saying climate and weather modification also involves using electromagnetic weapons to push away clouds and create artificial droughts for enemy countries, what The New York Times calls “turning fruitful areas into deserts, and even perhaps ultimately radically rearranging the entire world climate”.

Zimbabweans are now looking back and trying to explain how, since their country’s land reform started in 2000 and a hostile Western world imposed economic and political sanctions on the country as part of the regime change agenda meant to overthrow former President Robert Mugabe’s government, Zimbabwe has had drought almost every other year, when before the land reform, droughts in the country had a 10-year cycle.

“Droughts happened every 10 years or so, but now it is happening every other year, frustrating our agriculture and inducing hunger and starvation in our people,” says Albert Chikuse, a beneficiary of Mugabe’s land reform.

This year, Zimbabwe has been hit again by drought and the government may need to import around 900,000 tonnes of maize to cover for the shortfall in local production. The country requires 1.8m tons of grain for both human and livestock consumption. For nearly 20 years, drought has been Zimbabwe’s enemy. Now the people are asking: Are the droughts also man-made? Who knows? NA 

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Written by Baffour Ankomah

Baffour Ankomah is New African's current Editor at Large. He has spent much of his 39 years of journalism at the magazine, having served as its Assistant Editor for 6 years, Deputy Editor for 5 years, and Editor for 15 years, retiring from active service in 2014. In 39 years of his journalism career - Africa and his many causes have been his passion. His personal column, Baffour's Beefs, which has been running continuously in New African since 1987, is a big hit and a must-read for the magazine's worldwide readers. He is now based in Zimbabwe, where he and his wife Elizabeth run their own media consultancy and fashion house called "African Interest" which trades under the trademark "I am African".

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