Can you nuke a storm out of existence? Can you redirect a swirling cyclone of wind and rain with a Sharpie? Can you shoot a hurricane out of a gun and across the planet? These are the questions of our time, and thank god we have Donald Trump to ask them.
Former President Trump has a history with hurricanes. Specifically, a history of profoundly misunderstanding the nature of severe storms. In one of the most bonkers illustrations of his confusion to date, while still in office, he repeatedly asked national security officials if China was manufacturing hurricanes using some sort of weapon and launching them at the U.S., according to three former White House staff, as just now reported by Rolling Stone.
Spoiler alert: No, they’re not.
“It was almost too stupid for words,” said a former Trump official to Rolling Stone. “I did not get the sense he was joking at all.”
He started asking about the theoretical cross-planet-hurricane-shooter early on in his presidency, and kept inquiring about it so frequently for more than a year, that it became a running gag known as the “Hurricane Gun,” thing, according to Rolling Stone.
From Rolling Stone:
“I was present [once] when he asked if China ‘made’ hurricanes to send to us,” said the other former senior official. Trump “wanted to know if the technology existed. One guy in the room responded, ‘Not to the best of my knowledge, sir.’ I kept it together until I got back to my office… I do not know where the [then-]president would have heard about that… He was asking about it around the time, maybe a little before, he asked people about nuking hurricanes.”
Though the reveal of this particular Trump conspiracy theory about China and hurricanes is new news, it’s far from the first absolutely wild thing he’s said regarding the Asian nation or severe weather. In fact, he’s even claimed that the concept of climate change is a hoax invented by China. Although, he later said that comment was a joke.
In 2019, the former leader of the free world also reportedly suggested that we attack hurricanes with nuclear bombs—presumably to stop the storms. (In his defense, this was earnestly something under consideration in the 1960s, but is a really, really bad idea that NOAA debunks directly on their website.)
And of course, there was Sharpie-gate and the subsequent fall-out. In which, Trump adamantly and erroneously claimed 2019’s Hurricane Dorian threatened Alabama—going so far as to alter a NOAA forecast map with a permanent marker to prove his point. Somehow though, drawing the prediction didn’t make it a reality.
Combine this with all of the badger facts Trump desperately wanted from Reince Priebus, his former chief of staff, and it’s becoming ever clearer that really, Trump is just a curious guy with a lot he wants to learn about the natural world. In a grade school biology class, questions like ‘are [badgers] mean to people,’ what do they eat, how do they ‘work,’ and ‘are hurricanes man-made by a mysterious, foreign weapon’ would be welcome examples of class participation and engagement. So, who are we to stymie this adult man’s education?