“Weather modification” could promote rain before your big day.
You have likely heard of the term “weather modification” or “cloud modification.” It is the intentional act of altering the weather and often incites debates over who should be doing the modifying, whether we should be modifying at all, what the health effects are, etc.
Weather modification occurs more often than you might be aware, and over the past few years, several companies have popped up promising to produce rain for farmer’s crops, clear fog, and even protect wedding days from undesirable weather — for a fee of course.
For example, according to The Atlantic, UK-based company Oliver’s Travels will guarantee clear skies on your wedding day through the use of cloud seeding — a process that promotes precipitation before the big day — at a cost of $150,000. As if weddings weren’t expensive enough!
However, if you ask any meteorologist, they will tell you it’s impossible to guarantee perfect weather.
But even if we could have control over the weather, should we?
To make rain, several things need to happen. First, small particles known as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) are required for water droplets to condense. Second, these droplets need to grow to a large enough size so they will precipitate out of the cloud. Finally, it has to fall when and where we want it.
Companies currently cloud-seed with silver iodide (AgI), but AgI only treats the first process — forming CCN — explained Matthew Watson of The Independent. Even if clouds are seeded, there is still debate over whether the process actually creates additional rain. Although companies claim it does, there is a lack of evidence to show it works.
This is due to the nature of weather. It’s chaotic, and therefore forecasting it is imperfect. It’s hard to know what would have happened without any intervention. Would it have rained, or not rained, without the seeding?
Besides not knowing if it really works, there are definitely some moral quandaries that arise. What are the ethics of removing water from one part of the world, even if it’s just a little, and moving it elsewhere? Is this “playing God?”
Weather manipulation could be used very positively, such as inducing rainfall during a severe drought or its potential to reduce the strengths of severe storms, such as tornadoes and hurricanes. However, if this technology got into the wrong hands, it could be abused and exploited with evil intentions. Luckily, the use of weather manipulation as a weapon is currently prohibited by the United Nations.
What do you think? Should we be messing with nature for the silly purpose of wanting clear skies on our wedding day? I don’t think so.
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