Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Blog Tour: The Silent Count


Thriller, Climate Change Fiction

Date Published: July 19, 2022

Publisher: Solstice Publishing

She’s determined to stop climate change before it’s too late…

Nuclear engineer Dara Bouldin’s life is a mess. She’s paying off her dad’s gambling debts, reeling from a broken engagement, and practically invisible at the energy research agency where she works. Meanwhile, her ex Jericho’s latest single is racing up the charts and her handsome new colleague Dmitri is friendly with everyone but her.

All around them, wildfires, floods, and other natural disasters have become the norm. But Dara has an audacious plan to reverse climate change, if only someone would listen.

Little does she know, someone at the CIA has been paying attention. And when the public demands action, Dara gets the chance to turn her dream into reality, with the blessings of Congress and the President. Things are looking up.

That is until she discovers a secret that thrusts her into the center of a global conflict that could rewrite history, in dire ways she never intended. Things are going to change, big time. And the countdown has already begun.

Be careful what you wish for, Dara.


T-minus Ten


“Some said the world would end in fire. Others said it would end in ice. We know better now.”





acknowledged his audience in the windowless room lit with PowerPoint slides and the words ‘Top Secret-SCI’ (for

‘Sensitive Compartmented Information’) in red LED letters on each wall. His presentation to the Intergovernmental Committee on Climate Affairs beamed from a laptop that normally resided in a padlocked Class 6 file cabinet. Both the cabinet and the computer were nearing capacity.

The meeting participants had come to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, from several other agencies — the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Department of Defense, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy. They gathered around a large conference table, all furrowed brows, crossed arms and pointed features.

Alexander, silver-blue irises shifting,  felt adrenaline course through him as words shot past his tongue.

“Colleagues, the world hasn't ended at all. It’s left us the task of dealing with the consequences. That’s why I’ve gathered you here today. I’d like to talk about Project Plowshares.”

A few in the audience fidgeted, coughed.

Afghanistan was a walk in the park compared to an afternoon with this crowd.  He pressed on, quoting from the Bible’s Book of Isaiah: “‘…they shall… beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up their sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.’”

The PowerPoint transmitted a video of a nuclear explosion, ending in a mushroom cloud of fission products.

Pacing himself with a few sips of water, Alexander delved into the history of the program.

Most of the audience members had been students of nuclear history at one time or other, so they were familiar with Project Plowshares, at least the version of the program envisioned during the Cold War era. Alexander explained that Plowshares resulted after President Eisenhower’s

‘Atoms for Peace’ speech before the United Nations in 1953, when the president said of the atomic bomb, “It is not enough to take this weapon out of the hands of the soldiers.

It must be put into the hands of those who will know how to strip its military casing and adapt it to the arts of peace.”

He took a breath, hoping his listeners couldn’t see the perspiration beading where his blond crew cut ended and his forehead began. “The brass at the U.S. Atomic Energy Agency took the Atoms for Peace ball and ran with it, funding programs to find peaceful uses for atomic bombs. Beyond the obvious nuclear energy applications, Plowshares included large-scale civil engineering projects that harnessed the power of nuclear explosives.” He advanced to the next slide, willing himself to keep talking.

“The Soviets ran a similar ‘peaceful uses’ program during the Cold War era. Some would argue that India was able to develop atomic weapons due to this program by exploiting gaps in the Treaty on Nuclear Non-Proliferation, since it originally referenced ‘nuclear weapons’ rather than

‘nuclear explosives,’ as it does today. We’re aware that India consulted with the Russians on using nuclear explosives to create artificial lakes. Unlike us, the Soviets actually tested and implemented infrastructure projects under their version of Plowshares, including a dam in Kazakhstan.

“Now here’s a blast from the past for many of you,”

Alexander said, stifling a chuckle as he drew circles on the next slide with his laser pointer. “Nearly every undergraduate nuclear engineering student in the United States uses the classic textbook Introduction to Nuclear Engineering, by the late John Lamarsh. Perhaps you remember this book from your college days. Early editions of the book contained the following excerpt:

‘…there are a number of ways in which nuclear explosives may be used for peaceful purposes…natural gas trapped in underground formations can be released by the detonation of a nuclear explosive…New harbors, canals, and mountain passes can be excavated with nuclear explosives at a fraction of the cost of conventional methods.’”

He paused, looked around the table, and clicked to the next slide that contained the rest of the Lamarsh quote:

“‘It should even be possible to alter unfavorable weather patterns in many parts of the world by removing mountain ranges which obstruct the flow of air.’”

Alexander swallowed, his mouth dry. “Do we have any questions so far?”

One of the meeting participants, a man in a U.S. Air Force uniform,  spoke up. “General Fallsworth, what are you suggesting?”

Alexander attempted to modulate his breathing, which grew at a clip to keep up with his heart rate. “I’m proposing what Lamarsh said was possible, the one thing no one has tried. I propose that we use nuclear explosives to eliminate targeted mountain ranges in order to reposition the Jet Stream, create more favorable weather patterns and heat sinks, and reverse the impacts of climate change.”

Silence and stillness now. Every eye in the room bored through him. “Ladies and gentlemen, I’m going to speak plainly. Fire, drought, floods, and extreme weather have rendered swaths of our country uninhabitable and burdened other areas due to countless citizens who’ve been displaced. Agriculture is in ruins, insurance premiums have skyrocketed, and the chasm between rich and poor continues to grow. Besides the obvious financial impacts, these problems threaten our national security. Our enemies are well aware of our weaknesses, and, domestically, civil unrest is on the rise. Worst of all, people have died.”

Alexander’s voice caught in his throat. “Thousands of people have died,” he continued, “and all we have done is react.”   

He paused, pressing his lips together, then added,

“This has gone on far too long. We carry on as if everything is fine, letting the years slip through our fingers.

Well, time has run out for conventional methods, and now we must explore the desperate measures I’ve discussed.

These measures could save us, not to mention future generations.”

Moments later, a woman in the corner, eyes focused on the birch table’s grain, broke the silence. “Is this even legal?” she asked.

“The U.S. never ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and we’re not planning to do anything outside our own territory. The general counsel reviewed my proposal and, technically, it’s completely legal.”

She nodded, her tight expression easing. “I lost several family members when Cheniak flooded. My niece was only three months old when she…” The woman hesitated, adjusted her glasses. “…when she drowned. The water rose so fast, there was nothing anyone could do.”

The representative from the Joint Chiefs of Staff piped up. “What do you recommend as a path forward?”

Alexander felt his shoulders lighten. Steady, Fallsworth, he said to himself. “I plan to reach out to the Chair of the Nuclear Engineering Department at Chambers University. One of her Ph.D. students, the ‘Bouldin, D.’ on the journal articles I’ve handed out, developed software that simulates nuclear detonations and removal of geological obstructions for geo-engineering purposes. The dissertation examines how technical parameters related to nuclear explosions can impact weather patterns and long-term climate outcomes. As far as I can tell, a model already exists and would only need to be adapted and beta-tested, then implemented.”

The committee members exchanged looks across the table. “What about radioactive fallout?” asked the woman from the Department of Energy.

“We can conduct the detonations underground,”

replied Alexander, his voice firm.

Then the man in the Air Force uniform spoke for the group. “I think we owe it to ourselves and our nation to at least consider geo-engineering as a way out of our difficulties. Let’s think about it. If we agree, authorizing a black fund shouldn’t be hard.”  

Alexander studied the participants, mentally beseeching each one to please, please accept the proposal.

Thank them for their time, Fallsworth. You’ve got this.  

It was all he could do to keep from calling out, “So who’s with me?”


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1 comment:

  1. Excellent excerpt, The Silent Count is a book that I will enjoy reading!

    Thanks for sharing it with me and have a marvelous weekend!