ByÂ Pranjal Begwani:
Ours is a race that has worshipped the forces of nature — the sun, the moon and the rains since time immemorial, almost since the creation of man. And then in 1946 man made it rain. It’s almost as if we had broken down all forms of traditions, beliefs and myths with this one achievement of man.
Science has today swept through humanity like an all-encompassing flood, where all have had to bow down before it, even though it may have been a curse on some and a boon to others. But it is important to take a more pragmatic view on such matters and not merely concern ourselves with emotional values. Here we must not only accept the advances of science but instead must look at it critically in matters such as these, with obvious environmental implications, because it is something which brings the very existence of the human race into question. This article will seek to explore the phenomenon of cloud seeding, or man-made weather controls and related environmental concerns.
Cloud seeding is an act of weather modification to alter the amount of precipitation. In layman’s language it is a reference to changes in weather patterns brought about by man. Cloud seeding is brought about by using common chemicals such as silver iodide and dry ice. The use of table salt as well is currently being researched. Usually aircrafts or rockets are used to disperse these chemicals in the atmosphere which are then carried over by air currents to the desired impact regions.
Today the use of cloud seeding is widespread and is increasingly being used by more and more states. Not surprisingly China takes the lead in this as well, conducting ambitious cloud seeding operations every once in a while. Most prominently it used this chemical alteration to clear Beijing of air pollution before the 2008 Olympic Games. Other nations include the U.S., France, Germany, Australia, U.A.E. and a few South-East Asian countries. Closer home, in India itself, the southern states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra have used it in the past in drought prone regions.
This widespread use of cloud seeding is suggestive of the fact that its environmental impacts are limited. Although one of the primary chemicals used in seeding operations — silver iodide can cause residual injury to humans and mammals. There seems to be no other conclusive evidence to imply any adverse environmental impacts. Here the use of ‘conclusive evidence’ is deliberate because ample research still hasn’t been conducted to chalk out the impact of cloud-seeding in black and white. We are at a stage today where the environment is fast degrading and where temperatures and sea levels are expected to rise in the near future. At such a crucial stage, where a lot of scientists question the mere survival of the human race a few decades down the line, it would be in our interest and in the interest of future generations and all living species on earth to cut down on unnecessary environmental modifications. Thus with respect to cloud seeding, we ideally should hold out, until further research presents a clearer picture.