Yea... you read that correctly, but I rather suspect your reaction was the same as mine: shocked incredulity. Nonetheless, that's what some scientismists are proposing, according to the following article sent to me by Ms. M.W.(and big thanks for finding this one!):
Now, I just have to indulge my taste for high octane speculation, though in this instance I think we have to ratchet it up a notch to "oxygen deprived speculation," for I'm sure that's what many will consider it to be.
Reading the article, especially this comment...
"Whatever the eventual method, there is a growing movement to say goodbye to the belts - which is our second "if": Will destroying one of Earth's most fundamental features have any negative side effects? The easy answer is: probably not. The Van Allen belts are a symptom of Earth's properties, not a property themselves, and as far as scientists can tell the swarm of high-velocity particles orbiting above us is unlikely to affect anything but the bets laid plans of space scientists. Also remember that these dispersion methods are only temporary; given enough time with no VLF waves or cables, the fields would form again for the same reasons they formed in the first place.(Emphasis added)
...is less than reassuring to me. In a world where we were assured by bought and paid for corporate scientists that GMOs were "perfectly safe" and that there were "no documented studies of harmful effects of GMOs" and so on &C ad nauseum Monsantorum et alia, somehow the prospect of scientismists assuring us that "nothing will happen if we re-route all those near-relativistic particles into the upper atmosphere or out into space" is less than re-assuring, We've seen where the "let's just do it now and test for effects later" approach has led us with that issue. So, why pursue the same insane approach to the much more potentially explosive - to coin a pun - issue of geophysics?
The first question it prompts in my oxygen-deprived fantasia is this: whose payroll are they on? Lockheed-Martin? British Aerospace? Dassault? Messerschmitt-Belkow-Blohm? (or for Ian Fleming fans) SPECTRE? Or perhaps the Atomic Energy Commission? Atomic Energy Agency? The Diabolically Apocalyptic Research Projects Agency(DARPA)? I suggest, before there's a stampede to reroute all those particles flying around out there, that we find out.
The second question (or rather, speculation) that it prompts is summed up in my initial first reaction which may be summed up this way: Bullroar!
In a world where it seems there is this insane rush to weaponize space, apparently any ole' excuse will do, and this one - "let's just clean out the Van Allen Belts by re-routing particles to the lower atmosphere so we can have better radio communications with spacecraft" - is just too rich. So far, we don't seem to have had many communications difficulties with our space probes, and for those in the "yes, we really did go to the Moon" school, not with the Apollo craft either. If you're like me, and you believe the fundamental phenomena of large meteorological storms such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and large weather systems are fundamentally electromagnetic (in addition to being due to thermal differentials) in nature, then re-routing all those particles are bound to have some serious implications for terrestrial weather, and for that matter, weather modification and, yes, potentially weather weaponization.
Then we have the little problem of our terrestrial communications and electronics: if, as the article avers, it's a nice idea to vacuum the Van Allen Belts and clean them up so we can have better communications with spacecraft, then what would the effect be on terrestrial communications and electronics? Or are they just wanting to create pretty northern lights effects all over the planet?
More importantly, who's to say that all these particles will be neatly and evenly distributed? I can readily imagine some insane Ernst Stavroh Blohfeld or Dr. Angela Merkwurdigliebe or Zbigniew Brezezcskczskinski of the Dreiecks Commission getting a bee in their bonnet (after all folks, these people are just a few flies short of a Happy Meal), and deciding to concentrate all those particles on Mr. Putin's dacha, and taking out significant portions of the Moscow oblast in one fell bug-zapping lightning bolt spasm.
So what am I getting at here? Well, it should be obvious but in case it isn't, it seems to me that this is another thinly disguised call for a program that is ostensibly about one thing ("cleaning up the environment") while it is really about another (weaponization of space, in this case, geophysical space). And even if all this oxygen-deprived speculation is nonsense, which it may very well be, I go back to the fundamental difficulty: why not do a little science first, long and intensive testing, and show us the results, and let there be independent corroboration, before we go off on another wild and insane project that could have massive consequences, whether unintended or not.
See you on the flip side.