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China to Use Silver Iodide & Dry Ice to Control the Weather 387

eldavojohn writes "While we made light of it before, the MIT Review is taking a serious look at China's plans to prevent rain over their open 91,000 seat arena for The Olympics. From the article: 'China's national weather-engineering program is also the world's largest, with approximately 1,500 weather modification professionals directing 30 aircraft and their crews, as well as 37,000 part-time workers — mostly peasant farmers — who are on call to blast away at clouds with 7,113 anti-aircraft guns and 4,991 rocket launchers.' They plan on demonstrating their ability to control the weather to the rest of the world, and expanding on their abilities in the future."
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China to Use Silver Iodide & Dry Ice to Control the Weather

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  • Hmmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Evil Al ( 7496 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @09:22AM (#22880762) Homepage
    Peasant farmers with rocket launchers. Lots of aircraft. What could possibly go wrong?
  • by AioKits ( 1235070 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @09:24AM (#22880772)
    ...is four nosecones from 1960s nuclear weapon technology! HA! I knew it! *hide*
  • Wyoming Tested This (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dsginter ( 104154 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @09:24AM (#22880776)
    Wyoming has done similar tests [npr.org] (click "listen now").
    • by IndustrialComplex ( 975015 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @09:52AM (#22881144)
      Wyoming has done similar tests (click "listen now").

      Very true, but one thing to consider:

      91,000 seats at this stadium.
      37,000 workers for weather control
      Probably another 5000 general workers in and around the stadium (at a minimum)

      133,000 people in the 'effect' area.

      Now consider that Wyoming is a very large state, and only has a population of 493,782.

      To me, that seems like a rather large concentration of people who will be exposed to this.
    • by TheGreatOrangePeel ( 618581 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @09:57AM (#22881192) Homepage
      Yea, but in Wyoming, farmers with anti-aircraft guns are called "gun enthusiasts" and they're REALLY firing them off because they're bored. I mean, have you ever driven through Wyoming? I'll tell you, by the time you're to the other side of it, you want to fire off a gun or two just for the excitement.
    • Here in colorado, the lower part of the state has been using Silver Iodide for several years (basically, since the monster drought). This year they had to stop it because they were at 163% of normal. Was it the Silver? Do not know. But where it is not used, the amount is just slightly above 100%. So, it is possible that it is working. Now, what is needed is for us to build more resevoirs or start re-injecting back into the ground, rather than letting our water run off to other states.
    • by WebCowboy ( 196209 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @12:52PM (#22883286)
      South-central Alberta (between Calgary and Red Deer in Western Canada) is known to be one of the worlds more severe "hail belts". Hail has been responsible for hundreds of millions in damage, ranging from crops and houses (penetrating shingles and shakes to the point of damaging the cladding underneath, as well as causing flooding) to automobiles and airplanes (a hail storm in the Calgary area caused a cargo flight to Minneapolis to abort its ascent when tennis-ball-sized hailstones destroyed the cockpit windscreen of the Boeing 727 jet).

      For the past dozen years, the government has regularly seeded clouds in its hail damage mitigation programme [weathermod.com]. As a Calgary resident I can say that it has noticeably reduced the frequency and intensity of hail storms, and has probably contributed to millions of dollars in savings in disaster relief and insurance claims.

      Given that this is not only an old practice, but one that occurs frequently around the world, I don't see where the news-worthiness or controversy is in China's application of cloud seeding to divert precipitation from Beijing during Olympic events, aside from the mildly amusing reason behind the project.
  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Thursday March 27, 2008 @09:27AM (#22880816)
    Step 1 -- Weather Controlling machines
    Step 2 -- sharks with lasers
    Step 3 -- Global domination!
  • by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Thursday March 27, 2008 @09:27AM (#22880818)
    Following the announcement in 2001 that the 2008 Games had been awarded to Beijing, the government of the People's Republic initiated $40 billion of new construction there, bringing 120,000 Chinese migrant workers into the city (at about $130 each a month) and triggering a five-year steel shortage worldwide. [...] the Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions estimates that 1.5 million of Beijing's natives will have been displaced from their homes by government edict when the Olympics finally begins. This preemptory modernization is of a piece with China's scale, its 1.32 billion population, and the authoritarian control exerted by its Communist central government, which nowadays is dominated by technocrats and engineers who favor mega-projects like the world's largest dam (the Three Gorges dam over the Yangtze River), its highest railway (the Qinghai-Tibet line), and even its biggest Ferris wheel (in Beijing, opening in 2009).

    Someone please try to justify evicting one and a half million people for the Olympics.

    I'm sure someone will try...which just proves that China's subtle information campaigns to attempt to make the world think that everything is rosy or somehow justified are working like a charm.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sakdoctor ( 1087155 )
      Looking at it from our individualistic perspective, it seems like abused.

      On the other hand, from a Chinese collectivist, 'end's justify the means' perspective, why does it matter if 1.5 million drones are relocated?
      • Looking at it from our individualistic perspective, it seems like abused.

        On the other hand, from a Chinese collectivist, 'end's justify the means' perspective, why does it matter if 1.5 million drones are relocated?


        For some reason people don't own up to one perspective being better or worse than the other. This mediocrity in critical thinking presumably greases the wheels, so I'm not saying it's a bad thing.

        However... the Chinese perspective is equally valid if, and only if, conflict is an equally v
    • by tgd ( 2822 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @09:40AM (#22880982)
      For what its worth, Atlanta did the same thing in 1996. The whole Olympic Centennial Park area, all the new stadiums, etc were all built in former slums occupied by people who were strangely no longer in Atlanta after.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by maxume ( 22995 )
      First, justify evicting one. Then justify evicting 100. Then pay the other 1,499,900 people enough that they don't complain.

      Just Kidding. It's crazy. COHRE(the source for the estimate) does pretty much seem to hate the Olympics though:

      http://www.cohre.org/view_page.php?page_id=268 [cohre.org]

      Are you planning on not watching the Olympics and stepping up efforts not to buy products from China? Beyond that, there is approximately fuck all that citizens of other countries can do about it.
      • Are you planning on not watching the Olympics and stepping up efforts not to buy products from China? Beyond that, there is approximately fuck all that citizens of other countries can do about it.

        Olympics? Maybe, not sure yet.
        Products from China? I do avoid, whenever possible. Especially with my kids' toys and food products. Found that there is a lot of decent convenience foods we import into the states from Canada. Those chicken dinosaurs from CA are waaaay better too (I actually like them).
        -nB

    • What I wonder, is what China (in particular, the Chinese gov't) gains from hosting the Olympics. It costs money. It's hard on the citizens. It pisses off the citizens, and casts the government in a bad light. All the things they're doing to their citizens in preparation are not in a spotlight for the rest of the world, which also casts the government in a bad light.

      So my question is, other than saying "we hosted the olympics in 2009", what benefit is it to them to do so? I'd think that they'd get more res
      • by gardyloo ( 512791 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @09:48AM (#22881092)

        So my question is, other than saying "we hosted the olympics in 2009", what benefit is it to them to do so?
        They could say "We hosted the Olympics in 2008!".
      • by ichigo 2.0 ( 900288 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @09:54AM (#22881158)
        If you look at a list of countries [wikipedia.org] that have hosted the olympic games in modern times, you'll notice that it consists of industrialised nations. By hosting the olympic games, China wants to show the world that they are now a member of the club.
      • Maybe the question is: "What does the world gain from having China host the Olympics?"
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Money? And lots of it, I'm sure. Just think of the taxes collected on every penny spent there: airfare, travel, meals, lodgings, souvenirs, equipment, entertainment, and so forth. The Olympics is a giant event with money being poured into all the infrastructure surrounding it.
        • by phorm ( 591458 )
          Not so sure about that. I just moved out of BC, Canada recently, but the way things were going the outpouring of $$$ was wayyy beyond budget, and the incoming was going to have a hard time catching up. Similarly, Greece suffered [about.com] greatly under the cost of hosting the olympics.

          May some are going to make money from it: travel agencies, advertisers, etc, but I think the profit is relegated to a limited number of pockets, and I'm not so sure that the gov't pockets (aka the taxpayers) will be one of them, exce
      • by dcollins ( 135727 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @10:43AM (#22881730) Homepage
        They gain honor, prestige, and recognition. And if you think those are less important than money... well, there's your cultural divide, right there in a nutshell.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jotok ( 728554 )
        No. Then we would simply accuse the Chinese of genetically engineering athletes (or at least socially engineering them, which is for some reason worse in my mind). That's basically what everyone said about Yao Ming, remember?

        Basically, they can't win for losing. Here are some examples of what the average Westerner thinks of China and the Chinese:

        1. There are a lot of them, and living conditions universally suck (but they don't know it because the Great Firewall won't let them go to those sites)
        2. They pr
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Spellvexit ( 1039042 )

        I pretty much agree that the Olympics are going to be a huge expenditure with few tangible results, but I find it pretty unsurprising China is so gung-ho about this. In my opinion, hosting the Olympic games satisfies several agendas:

        • It's great for mianzi ("face"). Saving face, losing face, gaining face is a big deal in China. I used to think it wasn't that big of a deal and that it was really just another term for what Westerners go through, but it's got a surprising force in China. Even in Taiwan, w
      • by ObiWonKanblomi ( 320618 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @11:56AM (#22882660) Journal
        So my question is, other than saying "we hosted the olympics in 2009", what benefit is it to them to do so?

        Assuming you meant to say "2008" rather than "2009", I can only give you a partial answer. More specifically as to why it has to be 2008.

        In Chinese culture, as well as other Asian cultures that share that heritage, the number 8 is a very lucky number and is also associated with prosperity. This belief is also applied into dates. The olympics is scheduled to start on August 8, 2008, or in number representation 8/8/8. I recall back in August 8th of 1988 (8/8/88), many Asian people where I lived (San Gabriel Valley, California which is otherwise known as the new LA Chinatown) bought up many lotto and lottery tickets.

        I would imagine this number thing is so central in their beliefs such that the Chinese govt must really want to display prosperity.
    • by Bombula ( 670389 )
      While I share the general sense of outrage at China's heavy-handed government oppression, including grotesque overspending on ill-conceived megaprojects that largely benefit a small number of high-placed stakeholders (three Gorges Damn, the Olympics) at the expense of the public good, I'm not sure that - at least in America - we're not living in a glass house. Let me rephrase the above to show why:

      I share the general sense of outrage at the US's under-handed government oppression, including grotesque over

      • by Shakrai ( 717556 )

        While I share the general sense of outrage at China's heavy-handed government oppression, including grotesque overspending on ill-conceived megaprojects that largely benefit a small number of high-placed stakeholders (three Gorges Damn, the Olympics) at the expense of the public good, I'm not sure that - at least in America - we're not living in a glass house. Let me rephrase the above to show why:

        The difference between America and China is that you are free to speak your criticisms of the American Government without fear of punishment from said Government.

    • > Someone please try to justify evicting one and a half million people for the Olympics.

      By the numbers YOU quoted, that's 1/10th of 1% of their population.
    • If their housing is improved from a slum to something solid then there is nothing to worry about.
    • by Jimmy_B ( 129296 ) <slashdot@jimran[ ]h.org ['dom' in gap]> on Thursday March 27, 2008 @10:34AM (#22881630) Homepage

      "... The Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions estimates that 1.5 million of Beijing's natives will have been displaced from their homes by government edict when the Olympics finally begins." Someone please try to justify evicting one and a half million people for the Olympics.
      Please cite your sources. I tracked down your source, the Center on Housing Rights and Evictions Violator Award - Beijing [cohre.org]. From that same article, however,

      The main areas in which evictions have been carried out within the Municipality of Beijing during the period between 2000 and 2007 are neighbourhoods in the four central districts of the capital where overcrowding and old or dangerous housing is common; namely Dongcheng, Xicheng, Chongwen and Xuanwu. Large-scale evictions have also been carried out in several Chengzhongcun (literally, villages in the city), poor informal settlements comprising housing that has not been approved for construction, does not comply with building codes and typically is not properly serviced.
      They aren't evicting people to clear space for new development, they're evicting people from unsafe, overcrowded shanties. Sounds like they should've demolished those buildings a long time ago, but they're just getting around to it now because they don't want the rest of the world to see how bad they were.
    • What does the phrase "1.5 million natives have been displaced from their homes" mean, in this case specifically? There is no fundamental human right to a *specific piece of property*. If those 1.5 million people were moved into comparable (or possibly even *better*) housing elsewhere in the city or in a city/town of their choice, or at least compensated with sufficient funds to purchase comparable housing, then I don't see a problem with it (we do the same thing in the US - it's called "Eminent Domain [wikipedia.org]"). If
  • by InvisblePinkUnicorn ( 1126837 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @09:30AM (#22880850)
    The Chinese government wants to use the Olympics to inject a dose of normalcy into their demeanor, but there is nothing normal about purposely and continually funding a genocide [sudanreeves.org] despite the requests and demands of every other nation in the world.
    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      Funding a genocide? Paying for the Iraq war is not funding a genocide. Oh, you mean something else like companies buying stuff from Uganda, Zaire, Rwanda, Cambodia etc etc at various times only this time it is Sudan. Foreign involvent and investment in Sudan might actually be helping the place and blaming China for what is going on there is like blaming street crime on McDonalds - completely irrelevant and blaming those who cannot control the situation. The Chinese trade with absolutely everybody just a
      • by InvisblePinkUnicorn ( 1126837 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @10:41AM (#22881714)
        The Chinese government gives the Sudanese government weapons in exchange for oil. The Sudanese government uses those weapons to slaughter civilians in the Darfur region. A representative of the government has actually stating that they delayed a peace agreement to end the north-south civil war in order to make sure they had a "lasting solution in Darfur [pbs.org]" (ie, to make sure the region could not recover).

        Saying "Foreign involvement and investment in Sudan might actually be helping the place" is ridiculous. It's like saying that you can send 10,000 pounds of cereal to a corrupt African government and actually expect them to pass the food on to their starving citizens. The reason their citizens are starving is precisely because of government corruption and interference. Those people are never going to see the food if you give it to their government.

        Likewise, expecting a government that is actively slaughtering its people to somehow pass on any of their profits to those same people is ludicrous. The companies you reference are doing business with the government, not with the country's population, and certainly not with any resident of the Darfur region.
  • control the air (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tim4444 ( 1122173 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @09:32AM (#22880882)
    now if they could only control pollution...
  • Here, back when out country was called USSR the Party would order the same thing done to prevent rain over the Red Square during the military parades that took place on major holidays, like November 7th (Anniversary of October Revolution) or may 9th (Russian V-Day).
  • .... most of the clouds happen to be over Tibet.
  • by madhatter256 ( 443326 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @09:37AM (#22880944)
    Isn't Silver Iodide bad for you, specifically your skin? I know there's this concoction (that has silver) that if you take too much of it turns your skin blue and is irreversible.

    If china pumps a ton of this stuff out, this will obviously get into the drinking water and then the athletes will drink that water as well as the local citizens and so you get blue skinned Chinese and athletes!

    I think the US, UK, and its allies should boycott the Olympics. Of course I'd like our country to show China that democracy is way better than communism like we did to the Russians back in the hey-day, but China has smog (high levels of mercury and lead than any smog city in the world) and now silver iodide in their drinking water. I wouldn't want our strapping young athletes to end up with lungs like that of a smoker and have asthma attacks.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Ambvai ( 1106941 )
      I don't know about silver iodide, but I know that silver nitrate (AgNO3) stains a dark color, but it's only superficial (in that it'll fade as your skin cycles off). On the other hand, this may cause a sudden crash in the popularity of the Blue Man Group if this comes through... Regarding the smog though, I've heard from numerous people (probably all quoting the same source though) that to alleviate the problem of pollution, China is halting the most pollutive factories in/around the city for 1 to 3 month
    • by Sirch ( 82595 )
      Dude - are you a Smurfist?
    • The spectators won't have to drink that, not at all. Instead, all tools involved will buy small bottles of water at $3 a pop (or the equivelent in yuan).
    • Bad for you? The Chinese government seems to think it's ok...do you have a problem with the Chinese government?

      So China...wanna buy some Agent Orange? I hear it's great for clearing brush before construction jobs...and perfectly safe!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by djtachyon ( 975314 )

      I know there's this concoction (that has silver)...

      You are thinking of Colloidal Silver [wikipedia.org]. Silver is a natural antibiotic and quite a lot of it can be drank daily. A topical form, Silver Sulfadiazine [wikipedia.org], is often prescribed for severe burns.

      ...that if you take too much of it turns your skin blue and is irreversible.

      The condition of drinking way too much of this is called Argyria [wikipedia.org].

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by lawpoop ( 604919 )
      I don't know about silver iodide, but colloidal silver, which is what people take to fight bacteria ( I'm making no implied claims about it's efficacy ), is not harmful. You can take too much of it, and since it never leaves your cells, you do get colored blue, but there are no health consequences from it ( benefit claims notwithstanding. )

      The libertarian candidate for Senator from Montana on the last go around took too much before Y2K, and he's as blue as his suit jacket! IMHO, didn't help the libertaria
  • who are on call to blast away at clouds with 7,113 anti-aircraft guns and 4,991 rocket launchers.'

    Isn't this from a spongebob episode, where plankton tried, yet again, to conquer the world?

    "Die cursed, usurper clouds! Die!!!"

  • What you don't know is that the Chinese official who came up with this idea, his name translates as 'big butterfly [wikipedia.org]'. When he flaps his wings in the considerable land mass of China, who knows what happens to the weather in Florida...
  • by gravyface ( 592485 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @09:40AM (#22880980)

    ...who are on call to blast away at NATO warpl^H^H^Hclouds with 7,113 anti-aircraft guns and 4,991 rocket launchers


    Let's just hope the farmers load the shells from the wooden boxes with the clouds on them, not the skull and crossbones, during the Olympics.
  • by esocid ( 946821 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @09:40AM (#22880984) Journal
    Whatcouldpossiblygowrong?
  • Dumping that much crap in the atmosphere won't Fuck The Planet Up (tm) but if it leads to what is implied in the description, that China will look to other weather mods, and given they have well over a billion people to do it, I would be Deeply Apprehensive that it would be any kind of a "good Thing".

    RS

    • I see nothing that could go wrong with this. What could a country downwind, who ends up having all the moisture wrung out of the clouds by the country upwind, possibly complain about? I'm sure they perfectly understand all of the ramifications of this. No need to worry.
  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @09:46AM (#22881060)
    Cloud seeding works about as well as a polygraph but with a bit more of a scientific basis behind it that makes people think it might just work this time. They can no more control the weather than we can read minds so it's not worth the sensationalist headline.
  • by esocid ( 946821 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @09:50AM (#22881116) Journal
    I don't see this going well with the climate oscillations, particularly the Pacific Decadal Oscillation [wikipedia.org] and the El Nino Southern Oscillation [wikipedia.org]. This could cause massively destructive monsoons in the South East Pacific and flooding in South America in about a year. People still want to screw with mother nature regardless of the dangers that it poses.
    • by Shakrai ( 717556 )

      People still want to screw with mother nature regardless of the dangers that it poses.

      Hey I'm as leery of screwing with Mother Nature as the next guy, but let's not forget that Mother Nature was dangerous way before [wikipedia.org] we had the technology to "screw with" her and will remain so regardless of any technological advances that we may make.

  • At last.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by PJ The Womble ( 963477 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @10:19AM (#22881444)
    Now that Polaroid has stopped making photographic films, I was wondering what we were going to do with all those spare silver halides short of flooding the world markets with goth jewellery.

    Now I can sleep happy knowing that the Chinese are going to be spraying them into the atmosphere. I'm not a chemist, but as someone with an interest in photography, I predict a negative effect on our climate which may take some time to develop but will take a whole lot of sodium thiosulfate to fix!
  • This Reminds Me (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Phoenix666 ( 184391 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @10:21AM (#22881472)
    of three anecdotes about China and the environment.

    The first was from the Lonely Planet's China guide, wherein one of the contributors said he was an avid jogger who moved to Beijing. Upon discovering the poor air quality, he decided it was better for his health to stop jogging.

    The second was the funny and sad story of the fate of songbirds in Beijing. Apparently, Chairman Mao hated them. So he commanded all the citizens of the city to go outside and bang on pots and pans. The birds, scared by the racket, flew around and around until they dropped dead out of the sky from exhaustion. Subsequently, the insect population soared without the birds to keep them in check.

    A reasonable person might have concluded that they should bring back the birds and restore equilibrium, but not Mao. He then decreed that since insects were breeding in the grass and vegetation in the capitol, that everyone should turn out and uproot all the plants and soak the trees down with DDT (a practice which continues to this day, in fact). Then, with no ground-level vegetation around, the city began to experience vexing dust storms.

    The Chinese Communist Party efficiently proclaimed it a consequence of being downwind from the massive Soviet industrial complexes in Siberia.

    The third anecdote involves the Three Gorges Dam. When the it looked like the CCP would put the plans into action, scientists and experts from around the world unanimously proclaimed it a Bad Idea. It would wipe out endangered species. It would erase one of the two greatest cultural and scenic features of China: the Three Gorges are somewhat analogous to the Grand Canyon and have inspired Chinese poets and artists for thousands of years. It would prove ineffective in generating power over the long run due to the rapid silting up of the reservoir. It would dislocate millions of people pushed out by the rising waters. It would create a potential disaster for the people living downstream (including Shanghai, one of the most densely populated cities in the world), because the dam itself was built across several faults.

    But the CCP went ahead, because nature and man must be subsumed beneath the needs of the proletariat. Now it turns out, once the reservoir is filling, that all those concerns were true. For instance, the increased weight of water in the reservoir above the fault lines has accelerated the number of temblors. Also, with restricted water flow, regions downstream are experiencing drought (an unexpected consequence). And with the reduced water flow, pollution has become more concentrated and caused public health problems. And the last unexpected consequence is that the increased water levels in the reservoir have triggered all kinds of landslides.

    In short, China's approach to the environment is nothing short of a disaster. And unhappily for them, the effects of the disaster are immediately felt and born by the rank-and-file Chinese, given the high population density. Yet because of the totalitarian presence of the CCP and its totalizing ideology and propaganda, the country and its people are unable to efficiently evaluate proposals and effectively respond to problems.

    It's sad, because the Chinese are an incredibly inventive and resourceful group. They've given so much to the world. One wonders what they could achieve in a free and open society. But alas, they have, at least for the time being, chosen to handicap themselves with a system that turns all their genius to idiocy.

    The rest of us should observe, and take notes for our own societies.
    • by Irvu ( 248207 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @11:16AM (#22882120)
      What you refer to is the Great Sparrow Campaign [wikipedia.org] which was an attempt to combat a severe grain shortage in China by exterminating airborne and landborne pests that consumed or fouled the grain. Like most large-scale attempts to restructure nature this one failed with ugly ugly consequences. In this case, absent birds to eat them the locust population exploded killing the grain.

      Interestingly enough just at the same time that China was facing this massive grain shortage Russia called in, loans that it had outstanding demanding grain and other food in payment. Rather than Default the communists forced the loans to be paid but that ended whatever positive relationship the two countries had. All through the 80's when people talked of a "Communist Conspiracy" they ignored the fact that after that little stunt the Chinese hated the Russians.

      One possible consequence of cloud seeding may be hinted at in this Guardian article RAF Rainmakers 'caused 1952 flood' [guardian.co.uk] Let's hope that isn't the case.
  • That China truly likes to control things....be it people or weather.
  • by Hasai ( 131313 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @10:26AM (#22881542)
    What "weather modification professionals?" Just where have you ever heard of anyone having a booming business of "modifying" the weather, outside of the funny papers?

    The Red Chinese are looking more like bludgeoning buffoons every day.
    .
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by lbgator ( 1208974 )
      We call it something different, but there is a lot of money spent on "cloud seeding" [wikipedia.org] in the USA every year. There is some debate [stateline.org] over whether or not it is effective, but apparently the Chinese aren't the only "bludgeoning buffoons" around here.
  • There isn't a lot. In fact it is often used during droughts when air moisture is often at a minimum, making such an approach useless as there is no water to harvest.

    The only people who claim it really works are the rainmakers themselves.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @10:43AM (#22881732) Homepage

    Santa Clara County, California used to have a weather modification program. [allenpress.com] It's Silicon Valley now, but it used to be a prime agricultural area; it has great topsoil. But it doesn't get quite enough rain.

    So, for about thirty years, when rain clouds were passing over but it wasn't raining, the call went out to all the silver-iodide stations to start up their generators. These were basically oil burners that put out a smoke column with silver iodide in it.

    It helped a little, enough to be statistically significant, but it wasn't spectacular. Beijing is putting in about 100x the effort to cover about 1/10 the area of the Santa Clare Valley effort, so they might get a useful effect.

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