Would China Lead Given that the US has HAARP?
Published on Wednesday, November 14, 2007.
Not content to push the edge in cloning, architecture and geological engineering, China’s also leaving the rest of the world behind when it comes to controlling the weather.
A few years ago, Australian journalist John Taylor reported,
It’s uncanny living in Beijing how it rains on the eve of major events. Be it a big domestic event, or a visiting foreign politician, the rain has usually fallen the day before, making for temporary blue skies free of the normal haze.
Chinese officials say cloud seeding has helped to relieve severe droughts and water shortages in cities. In Shanghai officials are considering the measure to cool the daytime temperature, easing demand for electricity.
When next summer’s Olympics roll around, the Beijing Weather Modification Office will be poised to intercept incoming clouds, draining them before they get to the festivities. No fewer than 32,000 people nationwide are employed by the Weather Modification Office — “some of them farmers, who are paid $100 a month to handle anti-aircraft guns and rocket launchers” loaded with cloud-seeding compounds. Some estimate that up to 50 billion tons of artificial rain will be produced by 2010. But Taylor noted that this has resulted in competition between cities to seed clouds first, and bitter acrimony when when region receives water claimed by another.
During my cloud seeding reportage, a few weather modification scientists praised China’s initiative. My gut instinct was to focus on China’s less-than-stellar human rights record and just say, “Well, it’s easy to mess with the weather when there’s no paperwork to fill out or reparations to pay if you flood a village or turn a county into desert.” But that’s reductionist. At some level, it’s about vision and will — and China’s got it.
Said Bill Woodley, a weather modification researcher who spent several decades running cloud seeding experiments for NOAA,
“There’s much we don’t know, as compared to China, where investment is 100 million a year. They’re training young scientists and pilots; they’ve just gone crazy there. It’s the epicenter of all weather modification activity. They’re pushing hard. Whereas in the United States, the amount of money invested by any government is probably in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, if that. For a country our size, not much is being invested.
Interestingly, when I opined that this was a shame, because with all the billions of federal dollars spent uselessly elsewhere, the government ought to shake a few million weather modification dollars out of the White House sofa, Woodley seemed a bit chagrined. You can’t just throw money at it, he said — there needs to be strong oversight, someone to make sure the research is first-rate, and so on.
He mentioned a couple of weather modification research bills now creeping through Congress — one introduced by Mark Udall (D-Colorado), the other pushed by Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas). If you think weather modification research is a good idea, go get your democratic participation on.