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back to article China turns on the sprinklers with ambitious rain-making plans

China is to step up its use of cloud-seeding technology to open the heavens more frequently than ever before, in a bid to prevent drought and make the weather more predictable. Zheng Guoguang, administrator of the China Meteorological Administration, told attendees at the National Weather Modification Conference in Beijing that …

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Simpler solution ...

... grow crops/livestock appropriate to the conditions of the local terrain & weather patterns. It ain't exactly rocket science. People have been doing it for tens of thousands of years.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Simpler solution ...

Yeah, right go and tell a native Chinese not to eat rice. Fat chance of that one happening.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Simpler solution ...

Contrary to popular belief, rice is not the staple of the majority of Chinese people. It only seems that way because it's the staple of Chinese from the Southeast regions, and those groups were far more prone to migrating to other countries.

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@AC 04:59 (was: Re: Simpler solution ... )

Rice (and other grains) have been consumed by humanity as a staple for millennium. Forcing the issue in inappropriate locations is contraindicated.

Side note: Assuming "Chinese" equals "rice eater" borders on racism.

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Stop

@Jake Simpler solution ...

not a solution at all with their current population .. likely 100s of millions would starve going back to *natural* conditions

from 1958-1961 .. over 40 million died from crop failures ( and mismanagement of distribution ) .. with a population around 600 million .. China's population today exceeds 1,300 million

the world only grows enough food because of a green revolution in selective breeding, farm management improvements and the use of petrol based fertilizers .. one third of the world's farmland depends on that fertilizer to be reasonably productive, and when the price of oil is high, poor countries can't afford what they need, and people go hungry ..

The US, for instance, has had about the same 300 million acres of planted farmland yearly, it has had since 1900, but it is many times more productive per acre, and one degree or another so is the rest of the world .. the US produces more than double the rice per acre than the world average

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What's this about China being behind the weather modification leaders? I thought no one else with the financial and technological means (except Abu Dhabi) was doing it.

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Israel has been doing it for some time, and I wouldn't be surprised if they were quite good at it.

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Headmaster

Australia gave up first

The CSIRO had a cloud seeding research program that ran for a while, but was abandoned decades ago because it is quite expensive and unreliable...

http://www.csiropedia.csiro.au/display/CSIROpedia/Cloud+seeding

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WTF?

@Jake " Side note: Assuming "Chinese" equals "rice eater" borders on racism.

No it doesn't, anymore than assuming that English = eat roast beef eater, in the same context.

It may be a stereotypical misconception, but it has nothing to do with racism.

On topic; messing with local weather patterns in this manner, is an insane waste of resources, time and money and may well bite them on the backside one day.

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Want rain?

Plan to hold a BBQ, works in Scotland every time.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Want rain?

Works in Wales too, although you only have to wake up for it to happen :)

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Thumb Up

Cope with drought?

Simple. Just do the opposite of whatever Thames Water is doing.

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Re: Cope with drought?

They just need to announce a minister for drought to start the deluge.

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Terminator

Actually, I can see countries going to war over this.

I am not a scientist, but... there must be only so much rain/water on the planet.

If a few countries are making that water drop on their country, won't that mean less to go around the other countries?

I'm starting to wonder if Quantum of Solace was way ahead of its time...

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Re: Actually, I can see countries going to war over this.

There's actually a UN treaty concerning this. Check out the "Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques"

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M7S
Bronze badge

Whose rain might they be appropriating?

If they're making it fall prematurely, would whoever lives where it would normally fall naturally not be a bit miffed?

It might just of course fall into the sea but if (for example) we in the UK "nicked" ALL the airborne moisture that comes in off the Atlantic and passes over us, rather than the current proportion of it that precipitates upon us, then our European neighbours might get the hump if they dried up. Does anyone with knowledge of the region know if there will be any net losers in this. Taiwan perhaps?

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Trollface

Re: Whose rain might they be appropriating?

Ireland has been catching 90% of the rain that would otherwise fall on the UK for the last decade and no-one's complained yet.

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M7S
Bronze badge

Re: Whose rain might they be appropriating?

Exactly , but unless the Irish are doing it artificially, this has been going on for quite some time now with periodic variations and our ecology is more or less used to it. If however the Irish artificially grabbed the rest, drying us out, then that would be different and might lead to, shall we say, a little disagreement.

In this instance that is what is proposed and I'm just curious to see if someone "downwind" of China is going to wonder why their green fields start to dry out.

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Silver badge
Trollface

Solution is obvious

Why don't they just stop breeding.

Either they choose to control the population in a rational manner or mother nature will do it for them. Mother nature's solution are generally a lot less "comfortable" though : droughts, plagues, earthquakes etc........ The other standard solution is Civil War..

Off note: Scotland doesn't have a problem with rain, thats why I left....

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Re: Solution is obvious

Actually, they do control their population. Families are only allowed 1 child I believe.

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Silver badge

Re: Solution is obvious

Officialy they do but then how do you explain the population explosion .... from 600 million to 1.3 Billion people , that is a lot of "mistakes"...

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Re: Solution is obvious

China's population has doubled over 60 years.

The UK's population has increased by at least 10 million since the 1950s (http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons/lib/research/rp99/rp99-111.pdf).

At least the Chinese made a decision.

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Anonymous Coward

Silver Nitrate?

I know the Soviets did use this, most notably for stopping it raining on Red Square parades, but their track record in environmental disasters probably tells you all you need to know about that.

Silver Nitrate is used in pesticides causing plants to be inhibited from making ethylene, a gas that promotes fruit ripening and aging in plants.

Silver nitrate is not harmful to mammals, but it is highly toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms... Mind you, the Chinese have pretty much eaten to extinction every type of aquatic animal they can reach...

Sounds like the usual cock up of fixing one thing only to break another.

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Silver badge

Re: Silver Nitrate?

"Silver nitrate is not harmful to mammals, but it is highly toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms..."

That's why they use Silver Iodide instead...

RTFA

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Meanwhile their billions of tons CO2 emitted each year leading to a warmer world with faster hydrological cycle is likely to increase droughts. So I wonder which one will win out.

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Flame

@NomNomNom

"Meanwhile their billions of tons CO2 emitted each year leading to a warmer world with faster hydrological cycle is likely to increase droughts. So I wonder which one will win out."

Bear in mind a substantial proportion of that comes from producing silly tech toys that westerners buy. I doubt your average dribbling apple fanboi (for example, could be sumsung , blackberry) considers the use of natural resources it took to create his latest iPhone plaything which he upgraded from the ever so slightly inferior one he bought 12 months ago.

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"look to increase artificial precipitation by 3-5 per cent"

Presumably they are hoping to change the *targetting* of the available (fixed) rainfall. Or have they figure out a way of increasing the number of clouds in the sky?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "look to increase artificial precipitation by 3-5 per cent"

Hmmmm diverting water.... Aral Sea anyone? That worked so well for Soviet cotton production...

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So how soon?

Can we get started on the Climatrol project?

@cs94njw

Space mining is apparently starting to get taken seriously despite the concept being embryonic since the 70s. I imagine that along with metallic asteroids, they could mine and process asteroids rich in water as well.

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Anonymous Coward

Cloud seeding

Tasmania has been using cloud seeding since 1964 to supplement their hydro storage capacity. http://www.hydro.com.au/water/cloud-seeding

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Boffin

AC, would you happen to know

if the Chinese authorities are cooperating with their Tasmanian counterparts in this regard ?...

Phil, I think you'll find - in the unlikely event that you would care to investigate - that the Chinese authorities rather than making «insidious efforts to control every conceivable aspect of Chinese life» have moved to remove certain aspects of Chinese life, not least sexuality, from Party control. Those who remember the days when, to take one example, marriage required permission from the respective «units» (单位) of the two parties are likely to agree. But then again, one doesn't really have to know anything about a subject to comment upon it, innit ?...

Henri

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