Cloud Seeding; The Confirmed Weather Modification Program
There’s an undeniable human desire to manipulate every aspect of our world and the weather is no different. In our attempt to achieve this, the prospect of geoengineering has become a very real and very contentious reality. And while debates over chemtrails continue to rage, discussion of cloud seeding receives less attention, despite its recognized use.
For decades, millions of dollars have been spent implementing cloud seeding technology near ski resorts, bodies of water, and areas experiencing drought, yet scientific institutions studying the practice often describe its actual efficacy as unproven or highly conflicted. So, why do they keep doing it and is it safe?
What is Cloud Seeding?
Discovered by Vincent Shaefer, before it was refined by Kurt Vonnegut’s brother Bernard, the most common cloud seeding technology involves the dispersion of silver iodide in cloud water. Vonnegut and colleagues discovered the reaction while working for GE in Schenectady, NY in 1946.
Those familiar with Kurt Vonnegut’s seminal novel, Cat’s Cradle, might not be surprised to learn his brother’s cloud seeding discovery became the impetus for the notorious Ice-nine – the water polymorph developed to solidify mud for soldiers’ convenience, but which turned out to kill them upon contact with bodily tissue.
In reality, silver iodide isn’t the deadly compound Vonnegut imagined, but it’s use in manipulating weather has certainly sparked conspiracy and skepticism; particularly when it comes to weaponizing the weather.
And the U.S. government did, in fact, attempt to use cloud seeding to weaponize the weather during the Vietnam war. The once-classified Operation Popeye invoked rainfall in north Vietnam with cloud seeding missions conducted over a five-year period. According to documents later declassified, the operation was credited with increasing rainfall by 35 inches – more than four times the average annual rainfall in certain parts of the American southwest.
Contrary to the intention of Vonnegut’s imagined Ice-nine, the military anticipated cloud seeding technology to create mud and flooding in Vietnam, making it difficult for enemy troops to move efficiently.
Though the operation was claimed a success, it was eventually discontinued, possibly due to ambiguities in how that success was measured, as well as a Geneva treaty prohibiting weather weaponization. Since then, the military hasn’t admitted to any further cloud seeding, though it has been accused of it.
Is Cloud Seeding Safe?
Cloud seeding with silver iodide is allegedly safe as the amount of the compound used in a single session is pretty minuscule – typically 10 to 50 grams. The only reactions to the compound are listed as discoloration of the skin, but only after years of exposure. Pilots who have worked extensively with the compound have reported it turning their hands temporarily yellow.
Environmentally there seems to be little risk of contamination in water sources or crops, though some of the secondary effects have led to catastrophe in the past.
In 1952, a cloud seeding experiment dubbed Operation Cumulus, caused torrential downpours in Lynmouth, a small village in Devon, England – 35 people were subsequently killed after flooding destroyed homes, businesses, and local infrastructure.
More recently in 2009, flooding in the Saudi capital of Jeddah led to the deaths of 122 people after 2.76 inches of rain fell in just four hours – this was double the average annual rainfall and was believed to have been caused by cloud seeding. Similar incidents have occurred in other middle eastern countries that have attempted to use the technology to fight drought and arid climate.
Meanwhile, other countries have accused those with cloud seeding practices of stealing rain and precipitation from them. Something one might perceive to be a harbinger of weather modification warfare in the future. When everyone tries to control the weather, there will inevitably be disproportionate accumulations favoring those with more resources that can influence Mother Nature.
Cloud Seeding Conspiracy
There are also larger overarching concerns with weather manipulation technology when it comes to those polluting and degrading the environment. Though maybe less of a case with cloud seeding, weather manipulation could dissuade corporations and major polluters from cleaning up their act. Why switch practices that negatively impact the weather, when you could just pay to control it?
That pay for precipitation problem could become even more exacerbated and convoluted when the über wealthy start paying $100,000 to have clouds “overseeded” in order to prevent rain on their wedding day – but wait, this is actually a service one could currently purchase today. In fact, a large percentage of cloud seeding technology is used to benefit wealthy parts of the world where people want more precipitation for recreational activities or unsustainable farming and water use habits. Instead of curbing wasteful practices and reversing long-term detrimental trends, our solution is to engineer temporary or short-term solutions by essentially trying to hack the system.
And this has become the case with certain solutions to climate change, including Harvard scientist David Keith, who proposed spraying aerosols into the atmosphere to increase the planet’s albedo (its reflectivity). Keith says he believes injecting sulfuric acid into the upper reaches of the atmosphere could reflect enough sunlight to counter act rising global temperatures caused by climate change.
His proposal includes the use of hundreds and eventually thousands of annual flights with the sole purpose of spraying chemicals into the atmosphere to manipulate the weather. The only problem, which he admits himself, is that once this process was underway, it might have to continue indefinitely, eventually dumping millions of tons of chemicals into air.
Is it any surprise people are convinced that something like this is already underway?
For more on weather modification watch this episode of Open Minds with Dane Wigington:
The Government Lifted Its Ban on Creating Deadly Super Viruses
A few months ago, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lifted a three-year moratorium on experiments involving deadly viruses. Prior research in this field has included influenza, SARS, and MERS – three highly infectious pathogens many fear could mutate into pandemic super-viruses.
The ban on studying these germs came between 2011 and 2012 when scientists intentionally created a new version of H5N1, or bird flu virus, enabling it to spread between ferrets. This testing raised many eyebrows in the medical community generating concern that a highly contagious virus could have been accidentally created causing a global pandemic.
The lift on the moratorium will still require extensive oversight from government review panels on individual studies, but slip-ups at the Centers for Disease Control in the past have left some worrying whether the ban’s lift is a good idea.
In 2014, the CDC accidentally exposed dozens of workers to anthrax and mailed a deadly sample of bird flu to a lab that requested an inactive strain. Smallpox samples were also found at the National Institutes of Health that had been stored in a freezer and forgotten for half a century.
Proponents of the relax on the ban think it will help scientists discover ways to prevent the outbreak of future pandemics, but no previous research has led to any viable solutions.
The research has, however, worked to create something called a gain-of-function mutation that creates viruses with the ability to spread easier. In order to study highly contagious pathogens, they must create infectious pathogens; an incredibly risky experiment with no guaranteed return.
Aside from the prospect of an artificial super-virus leaking from a lab and infecting the masses, there’s always the possibility of a virus falling into the wrong hands and being weaponized by bio-terrorists.
Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Control, is concerned with maintaining security around the discovery of information surrounding artificial super-viruses. Osterholm said that if a study found ways to genetically modify Ebola as an airborne pathogen, he wouldn’t want the public to have access to that information.
Is it really necessary to lift a ban on this field of study, when it hasn’t produced significant findings in the past?
Scientists currently supporting the green-light on gain-of-function studies say concerns are blown out of proportion, and that the combination of safety measures and scientists’ will of self-preservation are strong enough to prevent an outbreak. But does its clumsy precedent really support this?