China increases spending on weather machine

China will step up its attempts at weather manipulation in the future to help reduce natural disasters and boost modern agriculture, according to a top Chinese meteorologist.

Speaking in Beijing yesterday Zheng Guoguang, director of the China Meteorological Administration (CMA), said that due to the threat of drought in the future it will be necessary to “control the weather”. According to the Chinese People’s Daily the country will seek to develop more technologies to, unnervingly, “triumph over nature”.  

Zheng said that weather modification will be an important foundation to push forward the development of the country’s agricultural and rural development.

“By the mid 21st century, China will be a country short of water, with a per capita water source of 1,700 cubic meters,” Zheng said, “thus we need to control the weather.”

Weather modification generally involves cloud-seeding practices whereby various substances are shot into clouds such as silver iodides, salts and dry ice.  These substances act as a catalyst for raindrops and trigger downpours, as well as creating haze and clouds.

Technology was used in the 2008 Olympics to prevent the unpredictable weather from disrupting the event.

In the first ten months of this year, China spent $114 million on weather modification technology, up 19 percent from the previous year, doing little to dispel fears that it is attempting to eventually block out the sun like The Simpsons’ Monty Burns.

According to the CMA, in addition to reducing natural disasters, the technology can also be used to explore airborne water resources, improve the ecological environment and help secure industrial and urban water utilisation.

Beijing residents have in the past complained of the effects of cloud-seeding – citing flight delays, traffic bother and a number of other problems after a heavy snowstorm was artificially induced in November 2009, prompting the earliest snowfall in 20 years.