In China, Rain Comes When Beijing Says So!

Skeptics argue otherwise

  Image of a cloud seeding rocket launcher
When the rain dance fails, turn to cloud seeding, say the Chinese officials. With the imminent approach of the 2008 Olympics, Beijing is seriously taking into consideration the use of technology to clear pollution in the city and inhibit the rain from falling from the sky when it is not required, which basically means total weather control, a feat of engineering never attempted before by man. According to international reports, China has in plan the spending of 40 billion US dollars only to remake the infrastructure of the capital city, with about 100 million dollars spent each year in the rainmaking technology.

A rainmaking installation has already been created in the outskirts of Beijing, where anti-aircraft guns and rocket launchers have been heavily modified to accommodate rocket firing silver iodide into clouds in order to determine the fall of precipitation. In these conditions, the Chinese officials promise that there will be no rain during the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympics.

Wang Yubin of the Beijing Meteorological Bureau personally promises that no precipitations will take place during the opening and the closing ceremonies of the Olympics, as they just have to solve small problems related to the time and place where the process must take place. Thus, more than 6,781 artillery guns and 4,110 rocket launchers have been adapted for the the job of bringing or keeping the rain away in certain regions of the country. During the period between 1995 and 2003, China's Meteorological Administration has conducted about 4,231 cloud seeding procedures, which led to an increase in precipitation fall equivalent to 210 billion cubic meters of water in the benefit of 400 million people.

No wonder their neighbors accused them of highjacking their clouds!

Even so, skeptical scientists express concern in relation to the claims made by China. For example, US National Center for Atmospheric Research meteorologist Dr. Roelof Bruintjes argue that the odds of preventing a potential rain fall is overestimated by Beijing officials. "Chasing away the rain is not so easy as the Chinese scientists say, nor bringing rain", says Dr. Bruintjes.

The Olympics will take place from 8 to 24 August, a period of the year that has very high temperatures and heavy rainfall, reaching up to 18 centimeters of rain during a typical year! However, this doesn't necessarily mean that the Chinese will fail in achieving their goals, neither will it be the first time when a weird approach is put into action by Chinese scientists and is unsuccessful.

One of the best examples took place only a few days ago. While the Chinese officials were releasing a press statement related to the weather controlling capabilities of the country, certain regions of its territory were going through the worst snow storm in the last five decades. Secondly, deputy director of the Research Center for Weather Modification, Wang Guanghe, himself recognized that they did not base their claims on solid scientific evidence, as no studies related to cloud seeding had ever been conducted by Chinese scientists.

Further still, American programs running in the states of Oklahoma and Texas reported little or no evidence that cloud seeding even works. Usually, the chemical of choice for cloud seeding is silver iodine, a harmless chemical compound, but liquid nitrogen or dry ice should work just as well. The Chinese government says that the same approach would be used to clear the air of pollutants before important events, but the fact is that pollution actually inhibits the rainfall thus triggering a possible severe drought.


By    29 Feb 2008, 14:05 GMT