Amid the search for solutions to global warming, various forms of geoengineering have gained traction. The more wild ideas—like spraying dust into space to block out some of the sun’s rays—are still being debated. But in the meantime, weather modification in the form of cloud seeding has been implemented in various parts of the world, most recently in the Western US.
Cloud seeding is most often done by releasing compounds like silver iodide into clouds. The chemicals function as a sort of scaffold that water molecules latch onto, becoming heavy enough to drop to the ground as rain. It’s not a new technology; countries around the world have used it for decades to generate rainfall for crops, and the US government even used it during the Vietnam War to increase rainfall during monsoon season and make the terrain muddy and difficult to traverse for enemy fighters.
But the need for cloud seeding is becoming more urgent and more widespread as temperatures rise, particularly in areas that were already traditionally hot and dry. One such area is the Southwest US; New Mexico and West Texas have never been known as lush or damp, so now that it’s getting hotter and there’s less rainfall, it’s not surprising that cloud seeding is coming in handy. More surprising is the technology’s use in nearby states that traditionally have been wetter, like Colorado, California, and Utah.
The Wall Street Journal reported last weekend that cloud seeding programs are currently underway in all of these states (as well as Nevada, Idaho, and Mexico), with spending on the technology reaching up to $12 million in one year….