by Tracey C. Rembert
The Environmental Magazine
The Air Force
Is Preparing To Militarize the Ionosphere - With Electrifying
In a black spruce forest north of Alaska's Wrangell-St. Elias
National Park, a bristling array of antennas rises into the air. It
looks like a cable television station, but it's something far more
ominous: the military's semi-secret High-frequency Active Auroral
Research Program (HAARP), designed to give the Pentagon strategic
control over the upper atmosphere.
HAARP, slated for final completion in 2002, sends out a focused and
steerable electromagnetic (EM) beam that can superheat and actually
lift sections of the ionosphere - the electrically charged upper
layer of our atmosphere lying 40 to 500 miles above the Earth's
The EM waves are targeted to bounce back to Earth from
"virtual" mirrors and lenses, created by warming specific areas of
the ionosphere until they produce a flat or curved shape, capable of
strategically redirecting significant amounts of electromagnetic
According to a Joint Services Planning Document issued by the Air
Force and Office of Naval Research, HAARP's uses include:
communication to deeply submerged submarines"
"controlling the properties of radio waves"
mirrors which can be exploited for long-range, over-the-horizon
surveillance purposes, including the detection of cruise missiles"
Other military documents point out HAARP's potential for altering
weather patterns for defensive tactical measures, exploring
Earth-penetrating tomography (used to locate weapons facilities
underground) and geophysical probing for natural resources like oil,
mineral deposits and gas.
Dr. Nick Begich, author of
Angels Don't Play
this HAARP, warns that
the consequences of the military's experiment are more serious than
mere tampering with the ionosphere.
"Energy in certain frequencies
when reaching the outermost portions of the ionosphere can be
amplified up to 1,000 times by natural processes. A serious
environmental disaster (such as geoelectric storms, hurricanes or
floods) may well be the result," Begich cautions.
HAARP's inventor, Bernard Eastlund, says there's no cause for
concern - yet.
"What's up there now is not, in my opinion, big
enough to be concerned about. It has to be used judiciously, but
it's not the kind of power level that can do the stuff that's
patents yet. But they're getting up there. This is a very powerful
device. Especially if they go to the expanded stage."
Stage III of Eastlund's patent is a considerable expansion
incorporating HAARP's military defense goals: 360 antennas together
reaching 1.7 gigawatts (1,700,000,000 watts) of power, enabling
HAARP to alter a significant portion of the ionosphere, and create a
virtual mirror theoretically capable of astounding defensive feats.
HAARP first gained attention in 1993 when the Federal Aviation
Administration began advising commercial pilots about the large
amounts of electromagnetic radiation that HAARP could generate,
possibly interrupting pilot communication and electronic
Gar Smith of the San Francisco-based Earth Island Institute says
that the environment will also suffer under HAARP.
radiation beam could pose a problem for migratory birds because the
transmitter stands in the path of the critical Pacific Flyway. In
addition, HAARP's ability to generate strong magnetic fields could
conceivably interfere with the migration of birds, marine life and
Arctic animals that are known to rely on the Earth's magnetic fields
to navigate over long distances."
The military's "HAARP Fact Sheet" says that the project is merely
another ionospheric heater, like the small-scale ones currently
conducting scientific research in Puerto Rico, Norway and the former
And HAARP's Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS),
prepared by the U.S. Air Force, claims that HAARP's power levels,
though 10 times higher than any transmitted on Earth, will cause "no
significant impacts to birds, aquatics or the atmosphere," according
to James Boatwright, deputy assistant secretary of Air Force
On a smaller scale, the Wisconsin and Michigan-based PAVE PAWS, the
largest over-the-horizon radars in the U.S., use one million watts
of power, which have been known to disable TVs, radios and satellite
communications over a 250-mile range.
PAVE PAWS radiation can also,
"disrupt cardiac pacemakers seven miles away and cause the
inadvertent detonation of electrically-triggered flares and bombs in
passing aircraft," says Gar Smith.
By stage three, HAARP will be
1,700 times more powerful than initial testing, and it would halt
all types of communication nearby, including cellular phones, radar
and radio frequencies, TVs and satellites. Some researchers believe
HAARP's transmissions can also interfere with human brain activity.
Eastlund's patent was kept sealed for one year under a governmental
secrecy order, but is now public.
"It is possible not only to
interfere with third-party communications, but to take advantage of
one or more such beams to carry... a communications network even
though the rest of the world's communications are disrupted," says
the patent, adding that it could also be used to misdirect enemy
So far, proponents of HAARP have concentrated solely on its
defensive and tactical military applications, but one patent
speculates that the device would be able to alter,
wind patterns...so that positive environmental effects can be
achieved...For example, ozone, nitrogen and other concentrations in
the atmosphere could be artificially increased."
HAARP could also
theoretically create rain in drought-ridden areas, decrease rains
during flooding and redirect hurricanes, tornadoes and monsoons away
from populated areas.
Some 150 different international treaties, in place since 1975,
prohibit the use of "weather warfare," implying a legal challenge to
HAARP, since its patents include weather modification experiments.
And beyond atmospheric dangers, the FEIS filed by the Air Force and
Navy says that HAARP transmissions,
"can raise the internal body
temperature of nearby people; ignite road flares in the trunks of
cars; detonate aerial munitions used in electronic fuses, and
scramble aircraft communications, navigation and flight-control
U.S. studies show that even small increases in EM
radiation from devices like HAARP can cause human health problems
such as leukemia, cataracts, birth defects and cancer, alter brain
chemistry, and elevate cholesterol, blood-sugar, blood pressure and
With initial testing now underway, people will soon discover just
what notes this HAARP will play.