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China’s attempts to modify the weather

For some time now, China has been using technologies that can modify the country’s precipitations, but its plans for the future are alarming.

For some years China has been using technologies to modify the weather locally and to counteract the effects of global warming to support the agricultural sector. At the beginning of December, China’s State Council decided to expand its weather modification program, a decision that has raised doubts about the environmental and political risks associated with the program. 

In five years, Beijing has invested more than a billion euros in experimental weather modification programs. By 2025 the country’s program will be covering more than 5 million square kilometres – more than the total size of India.

One of the most used techniques is cloud seeding, which allows to increase the quantity of precipitations through specific chemical agents diffused by planes or special cannons into the clouds, thus facilitating condensation.

– 70 per cent

The decrease in hail damage in the Chinese region of Xinjiang, a key agricultural area, thanks to weather modification programs.

Until now, this technology has been used by China to reduce hail damage or to ensure clear skies for key events. According to government, however, it will be increasingly used to boost agricultural productivity, to reduce drought damages, to facilitate snowfall, and to provide aid in the event of fires in woodlands.

But, without shared norms, the country’s attempts to control the weather locally could negatively influence the weather conditions of its neighbouring nations. Indeed, India is particularly alarmed by the situation: these activities could disrupt the monsoon, a key factor for India’s agriculture but increasingly less predictable.

In theory, experts claim that ambitious geoengineering projects could contribute to the fight against climate change, but their unpredictable consequences – since autonomous scientific studies on safety risks are lacking – could be worse.

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