How China Makes It Rain With Anti-Aircraft Guns And Rockets

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is claiming the West is stealing all of Iran's rain. Pricks! But perhaps he should have looked east, toward China, home to the world's largest weather manipulation program.

The main goal of the Weather Modification Office - controlling the weather of Beijing and its surrounding areas - sounds like it's right out of a James Bond novel. They try to make rain with a method called cloud seeding, where trained workers fire cigarette-sized pieces of silver iodide into the heavens. Once they're in the clouds, the silver iodide pellets cause moisture to form around them, eventually becoming heavy enough to fall to the ground as rain. And their efforts appear to be working - Between 1995 and 2003, China's overall precipitation increased by more than 2.1 trillion cubic metres. Hurray for chemical rain!

This department of weather gods employs over 37,000 workers, trained to use 37mm anti-aircraft guns, rocket launchers and aircraft needed for all your weather-controlling purposes. But even the most properly trained quasi-Bond villains make mistakes:

Cloud-seeding shells and rockets have also sometimes gone astray, damaging homes and injuring inhabitants. Only last year [in 2006]a passer-by in the municipality of Chongqing was killed by part of a rain cannon that flew off during firing in May.

Perhaps Ahmadinejad is just concerned about governments using weather-trapping devices because of the harm that can come to the innocent pedestrians below. But somehow I doubt that. [USA Today, Asia Times Online, and Planet Ark; Top image credit: Shutterstock, bottom image credit: Calum MacLeod/USA TODAY]

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