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Humans can make it snow and rain- but should they?

Updated: Apr 9, 2022

What if I told you humans could control the weather, and make it rain or snow on demand. You might think the solution to drought is so obvious: make it rain in drought stricken areas. The process of releasing chemicals into clouds to create precipitate is called cloud seeding. More and more countries are starting to turn to cloud seeding as a solution to the rising temperatures and lower precipitation levels. However, cloud seeding might not be as promising as it seems.

Cloud seeding was discovered by Vincent Shaefer back in 1946. He worked with Bernard Vonnegut who found that silver iodide could create rain in clouds.The silver iodide causes crystals to grow in clouds, causing vapor droplets to grow and eventually fall as rain or snow. Project Cirrus used these discoveries to test it out in 1947. Following the Vietnam war, the United General Assembly passed a treaty that prohibited the hostile use of “Environmental Modification Techniques”.

Due to much of the West in the US being in a drought, the idea of Cloud Seeding is gaining interest once more. However, cloud seeding cannot be used as the only solution to the drought, since it doesn’t produce a lot of precipitation. That being said, according to some climate scientists, no matter how small, it can help in the long term.

It is important to also consider the consequences of cloud seeding. The technique uses silver iodide which is potentially harmful to the environment. Moreover, there has to actually be a cloud for cloud seeding to work. Therefore, it can’t be done on demand. If this wasn’t enough, cloud seeding is an expensive process so it can’t help poorer areas that need it more. Finally, if the technique isn’t properly regulated, it can cause future weather problems, since this science isn’t as familiar to us yet.

Cloud seeding at a first glance may seem like a picture perfect solution, however as we’ve seen it might not be everything that it seems. Only time will tell how this technique will work.

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