China's Latest Investment: Controlling the Weather

Business Insider is reporting that China has set aside $30 million for a controversial project that involves shooting salt-and-mineral-filled bullets into the sky.

The Chinese are investing in weather modification techniques – referred to as cloud seeding – as a strategy for bringing more rainfall in an effort to combat droughts that impede crop irrigation. Evidently, cloud seeding works by injecting chemicals into clouds to lower their temperature and give them more material on which to condense, in order to hopefully speeds up a natural process, causing it to rain sooner than it normally would. China even claims to have used the process to guarantee clear skies for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

So, China is just one of 52 countries who have weather modification programs. The process was uncovered by two scientists from GE way back in the 1940s, and it was even allegedly employed by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War in a campaign designed to draw out the monsoon season and create muddy, difficult conditions for enemy fighters.

What’s interesting about cloud seeding is that research hasn’t quite reached the point where it can tell if it’s working – and it may not ever. Because, if it rains, how can you prove that it was the cloud seeding that caused it? Maybe it would have just rained anyway.

Even though the jury is still out, countries are continuing to board this train, including ten new countries just in the past five years. And nobody seems to be too concerned about how weird this is. I guess if the idea of messing with the natural patterns of weather and climate make you uncomfortable, you may want to stop driving your car.