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    China is currently putting all their effort into making sure the weather is perfect for the 2008 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremonies in Beijing. In fact, the Chinese government guarantees clear skies. What makes them so confident that there won’t be rain? The answer is a weather modification process called “cloud seeding” that China is heavily invested in.

    China is using heavy weapons and planes to launch silver iodide pellets into clouds to concentrate moisture and cause rain. The Chinese Weather Modification Department will track cloud formations and use the cloud seeding practice to stimulate rainfall in the days before the 2008 Olympics to ensure the opening ceremonies will have clear skies.

    Cloud seeding works by speeding along the natural process of rain. The pellets contain particles around which water can condense and build up saturation until it has to release the built-up moisture in the form of rain, even in areas with very low humidity. The particles used in cloud seeding can be salts, calcium chloride, dry ice, or silver iodide.

    Other than preventing rain for the Olympics, China is spending $60 to $90 million a year on cloud seeding to provide enough water for its enormous population and to clear away smog in heavily polluted areas. It has also been used to cool down Beijing on hot days. The process is very expensive, but potentially cheaper than other solutions such as diverting rivers, building canals, or improving irrigation systems.

    Cloud seeding may also be hazardous to the citizens and property in the areas where it is practiced. There is concern for silver iodide toxicity and soil contamination. This can cause respiratory and heart problems in humans. It is also very toxic to fish and other invertebrates. Additionally, wayward shots in China have damaged property and even killed one person in 2006. Although China has improved the training, licensing and safety of these practices, the dangers involved are still important issues.

    Many other areas of the world have looked into cloud seeding methods to control precipitation including Russia, Israel, Thailand, the Caribbean, South Africa, and the United States. However, U.S. cloud seeding activity has decreased since the early 1970s due to a lack of convincing evidence that the process is effective.

    Cloud seeding has seen some successes, but many people are still unsure whether to call this practice intelligent or irresponsible. How do we know that it is truly effective? Is it worth the cost and possible dangers? Can you think of any alternatives? Share your thoughts in the Opinion Corner forum.

     
    Image credit: NASA.

    AuthorComment
    Yelena
    Student

    Ps 175 Lynn Gross Discovery
    Rego Park, New York
    2/18/2008 8:23:11 AM
    Re: Cloud Seeding: Smart or Scary?
    I think the Cloud Seeding isn't scary. The truth is that it relaxes me whenever something stress related occurs to me and I look up at the clouds and they do seem to relax me. To little kids, the Cloud Seeding is scary because they think it's a moving monster. But as you get older, you realize the clouds do no harm, they just produce rain, which is actually pretty good for the plant like organisms so they could grow and give us fresh, non-polluted air, unlike cars, that pollute the air.
    Sophie
    Student

    Mcdowell Intermediate
    Flatwoods, Kentucky
    2/19/2008 12:48:31 PM
    Re: Cloud Seeding: Smart or Scary?
    It is smart. They're clouds, not signs from the devil. Now look at them, they are pretty!!!!
    Patrick
    Student

    Challenge To Excellence
    Parker, Colorado
    3/3/2008 11:34:55 AM
    Re: Cloud Seeding: Smart or Scary?
    awesome
    Taylor
    Student

    Washington Woods School
    Holt, Michigan
    3/11/2008 12:35:47 PM
    Re: Cloud Seeding: Smart or Scary?
    smart and scary
    Taylor
    Student

    Washington Woods School
    Holt, Michigan
    3/11/2008 12:39:15 PM
    Re: Cloud Seeding: Smart or Scary?
    what other plant besides the tulip (hint in 2001 and 2000)
    Taylor
    Student

    Washington Woods School
    Holt, Michigan
    3/31/2008 11:49:34 AM
    Re: Cloud Seeding: Smart or Scary?
    i think that would be very scary not smart
    Bryan
    Student

    Gifford
    Vero Beach, Florida
    4/10/2008 3:42:46 PM
    Re: Cloud Seeding: Smart or Scary?
    I think that the cloud seeding in China is a very good idea to keep the weather in China nice for the 2008 Bejiing Olympic Games but they should be careful with what they are doing because it could go wrong. So I in my opinion I think that cloud seeding is more smart than scary but should take small precautions.
    Ashley
    Guest Student

    Bayou View Elementary
    Gulfport, Mississippi
    5/1/2008 2:23:01 PM
    Re: Cloud Seeding: Smart or Scary?
    smart but very very scary

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