August 26, 2019

Like a lot of barstool pundits, Trump thinks ideas are just "good old common sense." He hears some half-baked idea and doesn't bother to keep thinking -- because the problems with this idea are pretty obvious.

"Welcome back to Morning Joe. Hurricane season is here, and President Trump reportedly has an idea to keep the storms from causing damage to the United States. Nuclear bombs," Mika Brzezinski said.

"Nuclear bombs against hurricanes. According to Axios, Trump has suggested multiple times to Homeland Security and national security officials that they explore using nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes from hitting the U.S."

"You know, Mika, remember when we had warned everybody in, I think it was July or August of election year 2016 that foreign policy people had gone in to talk to then-candidate Trump. And his solution to Iran was -- why can't we use nuclear Iran, North Korea, why can't we use nuclear weapons against North Korea and being very frustrated, asking a foreign policy expert, 'Well, if we have built all these nuclear weapons, why can't we use them?' So now, I guess he just wants to use them. Itchy finger."

"During one hurricane briefing at the White House, Trump said, 'I got it, I got it, why don't we nuke them?' according to one source who was there. That source continued to paraphrase the remarks, claiming Trump said they start forming off the coast of Africa. As they're moving across the Atlantic, we drop a bomb inside the eye of the hurricane and it disrupts it. Why can't we do that?'

"A senior administration official responded to Axios and to the report, saying, 'We don't comment on private discussions that the president may or may not have had with his national security team.' All right, let's bring in the co-founder of Axios, Mike Allen. And Mike, it's an idea that we have heard before. It's not out of nowhere. Along with everything that comes with Trump, it seems a little scarier," Joe Scarborough said.

Mike Allen pointed out the idea has been long discredited. "It goes back to the Eisenhower administration. Some scientists thought about it then. NOAA has a tropical cyclone myth page and it's on there. They explain why it's is a bad idea. In fact National Geographic wrote about this and said 'nuking hurricanes, the history of a bad idea.' Why is it a bad idea? First of all, if you were to drop a nuclear bomb inside a hurricane, among the things that would happen is the fallout would follow the trade winds, would follow the path of the hurricane right to the land that you're trying to protect.

"Secondly, there's a shock wave from it that does the same thing. And third, a few practicalities about how much energy that would be required to disrupt a hurricane."*

(* For a more rigorous scientific explanation:

The main difficulty with using explosives to modify hurricanes is the amount of energy required. A fully developed hurricane can release heat energy at a rate of 5 to 20×1013 watts and converts less than 10% of the heat into the mechanical energy of the wind. The heat release is equivalent to a 10-megaton nuclear bomb exploding every 20 minutes. According to the 1993 World Almanac, the entire human race used energy at a rate of 10/13 watts in 1990, a rate less than 20% of the power of a hurricane.

Plus, you know, Sharknado!

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