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Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control (Columbia Studies in International and Global History) Hardcover – September 2, 2010

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Product Details

  • Series: Columbia Studies in International and Global History
  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (September 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231144121
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231144124
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,835,596 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Current hopes for a technological answer to global warming are not an altogether new quest; they echo a rich history of attempts to work upon the weather. James Rodger Fleming explores this history thoroughly, parading a colorful variety of scientists, visionaries, and charlatans who reveal important lessons about our past-and possible future.

(Spencer Weart, author of The Discovery of Global Warming)

With humanity's planetary impact reaching a Richter scale equivalent, what seem to be quick fixes become exceedingly tempting. Fixing the Sky's historical insights are a revelation—an anchor and essential base from which to consider addressing the greatest challenge in the history of our species.

(Thomas E. Lovejoy, George Mason University and The H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment)

James Rodger Fleming's book is a kind of tour de folie, an authoritative recounting over two centuries of weather changers and climate controllers, rainmakers and rain fakers, and cloud seeders and fog dissolvers. All in all, an engrossing work about vain hopes and technological hubris—as well as a cautionary tale to anyone concerned with attempts to engineer the planet.

(Dan Kevles, Yale University)

Provides an essential foundation for understanding the long and dubious scientific tradition from which plans for climate control hail.

(W. Patrick McCray Science)

Fixing the Sky is a very readable, in-depth popular account of the history of weather modification, ranging from myth and movies to experiments, commercial ventures, and proposals for the future control of weather and climate.... Recommended.Choice


Provides a detailed account of weather modification.... The topic is an important one, and the book is relevant for scientists, stakeholders, policy makers, and concerned citizens alike.

(Rasmus E. Benestad American Scientist)

The topic is an important one, the book is relevant for scientists, stake-holders, policy makers, and concerned citizens alike.

(Sigma Xi (Reprint of American Scientist Review) 1900-01-00)

I recommend this book to those interested in weather and climate modification and the history of applied meteorology.

(The Weather Doctor Blog)

Fleming has provided another valuable contribution to the still tiny but emerging historiography of global warming.

(Sam White Monthly Review)

An entertaining book about a serious issue.

(Gail Cooper Technology and Culture)

Fleming is a masterful writer, at the top of his game, and his skill and good humor make this book a blast to read.

(Paul Edwards H-Environment Roundtable Reviews)

This interesting and original work, building off of Fleming's previous studies of meteorology and climate science history, provides valuable perspective on what may soon become serious policy debates over how to respond to global warming.


a very useful and entertaining book.

(David Philip Miller Metascience)

This is a marvellous text for classroom adoption, and will engage undergraduates with its resolute, fairminded and comprehensive approach to a difficult and utterly fascinating subject.

(Mott Greene Ambix 1900-01-00)

Fleming's book should be mandatory reading for each climate engineering enthusiast, as it provides historical precedent to the current debate. Anyone interested in climate change-related issues will benefit from the book because of its easily accessible and jargon-free style.

(Axel Michaelowa Climate Policy 1900-01-00)

...not just a stellar addition to the history of science, but also a major contribution to the discussion on the role of history in science policy.

(Vladimir Jankovic Isis 1900-01-00)


Fixing the Sky will appeal to a broad audience and is a significant contribution to both the ongoing policy debate over geoengineering and the history of meteorology and climatology, on which James Rodger Fleming is a recognized authority.

(Mott Greene, University of Puget Sound)

More About the Author

James Rodger Fleming is a historian of science and professor of science, technology and society at Colby College. He earned degrees in astronomy (B.S., Penn State), atmospheric science (M.S. Colorado State), and history (M.A. and Ph.D. Princeton) and worked in atmospheric modeling, airborne observational programs, and as historian of the American Meteorological Society. Professor Fleming has held major fellowships from the Smithsonian Institution, the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His book, Fixing the Sky (Columbia University Pres, 2010, paperback 2012) received the Sally Hacker Prize from the Society for the History of Technology and the Louis J. Battan Author's Award from the American Meteorological Society.

Jim has been a visiting scholar at MIT, Harvard University, Penn State, the National Air and Space Museum, the National Academy of Sciences, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and Columbia University. Awards and honors include election as a Fellow of the AAAS "for pioneering studies on the history of meteorology and climate change and for the advancement of historical work within meteorological societies," election as a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, participation as a contributing author to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, appointment to the Charles A. Lindbergh Chair in Aerospace History by the Smithsonian Institution and the Roger Revelle Fellowship in Global Stewardship by the AAAS, and a number of named scholarships and lectureships including the Steinbach at Woods Hole, the Ritter at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the Beinecke at Yale, the Vetelsen at the University of Rhode Island, and the Gordon Manly Lectureship of the Royal Meteorological Society.

Jim is a resident of China, Maine (not Mainland China!) He enjoys fishing, good jazz, good BBQ, seeing students flourish, building the community of historians of the geosciences, and connecting the history of science and technology with public policy. "Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else."

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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By G. Poirier on May 22, 2012
Format: Paperback
Despite this book's catchy title and its surreal cover image, it is actually a very serious and broadly-sweeping look at the history of weather and climate control. The author has covered many aspects of this subject - from mythology and divination, on to tricksters and deceivers to serious but misguided visionaries and finally to serious modern-day research and contemporary attempts at making the hoped-for changes. Also discussed are the pros and cons of weather/climate control, should such a thing become feasible.

The author writes clearly and packs a lot of information on each page. Occasionally, he throws in a bit of humour but mostly, the book is written in a very serious, lively and quite engaging, tone. It should be of interest to a wide range of readers: from meteorologists and climatologists to lay readers with a serious interest in the subject.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By d.r. on August 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Quick service and item as described. Would recommend and use this provider again.
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