Bad weather can be a real downer. Heavy battering from El Nino brought empires like the Mayans and the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt to their knees. In this hour of To the Best of Our Knowledge, how stormy weather has shaped human culture. Also, a modern day rainmaker, the two-hundred-year-old history of global warming, and fulgurites — lightning's beautiful art.
Historian Gale Christianson tells Steve Paulson that the modern idea of global warming can be traced back 200 years to a French scientist. Christianson teaches at Indiana State and is the author of "Greenhouse: The 200- Year Story of Global Warming." Also, science writer and weather junkie Patricia Barnes-Svarney tells Judith Strasser about the weird weather phenomena she's seen, including sundogs, St. Elmo's Fire and the specter of Brocken. Her book (co-authored with husband Thomas Svarney) is "Skies of Fury: Weather Weirdness around the World."SEGMENT 2:
Martin Uman is a lightning researcher at the University of Florida/Gainsville. He tells Jim Fleming about fulgerites - the glass tubes formed when lightning strikes certain types of sand or soil. Uman collects and markets the fragile fulgerites. Also, veteran cloud- seeder Thomas Henderson talks with Steve Paulson about his rain-making projects around the world, and the new research that's bringing scientific credibility to the practice of cloud seeding. Henderson is a hydrologist and president of Atmospherics, a cloud seeding company.SEGMENT 3:
According to anthropologist Brian Fagan, El Nino's been making people miserable for thousands of years. He tells Judith Strasser that over the centuries El Nino has contributed to the collapse of civilizations all over the world. Fagan teaches at the University of California/Santa Barbara and is the author of many books, including "Floods, Famines and Emperors: El Nino and the Fate of Civilizations."Cassette copies are available at 1-800-747-7444. Ask for program number 99-08-29-B.
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