Everywhere you go, always take the weather with you
Published 13th November 2009 - 2 comments - 1269 views -
"Artificial snowstorm brings chaos to Beijing" said one of this week's more surprising headlines from Australia. The delayed flights, the cancelled meetings and the traffic jams caused by this sudden snowstorm might have surprised and angered Beijing residents, but China's authoritarian rulers weren't surprised or angered. The Party knew all along about the coming snowstorm. The Party caused it, in fact.
There's a Chinese entity called the Beijing Weather Modification Office and its only purpose seems to be to manipulate the elements. The fact is that a huge tract of northeast China, including Beijing, has been suffering from drought for nearly a decade, and the country's leadership would like to put an end to this. To do so, the Beijing Weather Modification Office employs cloud seeding, which involves launching silver iodide into the atmosphere. This causes water vapour in the air to crystallize at temperatures it otherwise would not. The results are uneven. Precipitation can be increased, but only by 20 percent. Sometimes.
Weather manipulation is not new, by the way. It is estimated that some 24 countries are involved in cloud seeding. The US experimented with weather manipulation to curb the intensity of Gulf hurricanes in the 1960s, and the US military seeded clouds over North Vietnam during the war there to extend the monsoon season.
Now, as Beijing's residents wade through their second major snowstorm this season, it is rumoured that the masses are getting uneasy about the Party's experiments. In 2005, a snow melting agent killed 10,000 trees in Beijing, and experts say it could be eroding the city's infrastructure. Who knows what the next surprise will be.
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