World Meteorological Organization WMO

Meteorology was an area in which international collaboration was already organized at the end of World War II, but not through governmental cooperation. However, in 1947, representatives of 31 countries attending the Eighth Conference of Directors of the IMO endorsed the transformation of IMO into the intergovernmental World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which was created in 1950. In 1951 the WMO became a special agency under the United Nations.45

According to Miller, the development of the WMO was intimately connected to a US foreign policy of scientific internationalism. The ideological ideal driving it was to construct a stable world order that could serve American interests. One of the major tools it used to do this was to promote international cooperation. This would help other countries towards economic prosperity and therefore reduce the risk of social unrest, which would otherwise create a fertile ground for communist regimes. Promoting a free international exchange of scientific data would also ensure that American scientists had access to scientific work from all parts of the world. Moreover, the ideology of international cooperation was aimed at reducing the risk that science and technology would again be captured by a militaristic state, as had happened in the German war effort. 46

The WMO became an ideal model for this post-war US foreign policy. Not only was there already an existing scientific network among the national meteorological offices on which it could build, the new regime could be framed as a matter of technical cooperation, which did not threaten the sovereign rights of other states.47 The United States had the chairmanship of the IMO and thus an opportunity to prepare the restructuring into a formal cooperation among sovereign states rather than an informal network among meteorological offices.48 The new structure mustered new economic resources, which were used to invest in new technologies that improved capacity to observe Earth's weather. These technologies later came to include computers, satellites, telecommunication, and remote sensing, all of them key components in the technical network that is used to detect and understand global climate change. It also committed governments to standardizations of the measurements.49

The WMO illustrates the interplay between an existing actor network and political state interests in creating a regime. Already in the 1930s, the IMO had discussed the

45 WMO, "The Beginnings of WMO (1950s-1960s)," (Accessed 18 Oct. 2005).

46 Clark A. Miller, "Scientific Internationalism in American Foreign Policy," in Changing the Atmosphere. Expert Knowledge and Environmental Governance, eds. Clark A. Miller and Paul N. Edwards, 167-217 (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004).

47 Miller, "Scientific Internationalism in American Foreign Policy," 177.

48 Miller, "Scientific Internationalism in American Foreign Policy," 188.

49 Miller, "Scientific Internationalism in American Foreign Policy,"190-191.

idea of a convention that would regulate meteorological cooperation but this effort was stalled by the war.50 After the war, the idea was actively promoted as part of the US efforts to build a new world order. It also illustrates how formal intergovernmental cooperation mustered new resources and created political legitimacy. The norms of the international cooperation in meteorology, as well as the physical and political structures to support data gathering and sharing that developed under the auspices of the WMO, were further strengthened in connection with the International Geophysical Year in 1957/58.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment