In recent years, China has made a number of head-turning and downright dazzling technological advances. Now, according to a new study, the East Asian giant has successfully managed to literally change the weather.
According to a recent report from the South China Morning Post, scientists at Tsinghua University say that during the 100-year anniversary of the Communist Party of China, authorities succeeded in modifying the weather in Beijing to clear the sky and improve air quality for the masses gathered to celebrate the party’s centenary in Tiananmen Square.
The large-scale operation involved lacing the clouds above the capital with chemicals to usher in rainfall over suburban parts of Beijing before the July 1 centennial event. According to the Tsinghua researchers, eyewitnesses report rockets being launched from mountains outside the city in the run-up to the event.
The Beijing researchers claim that the artificial rain managed to reduce the level of PM2.5 air pollutants by over two-thirds, bringing air quality to “good” conditions from “moderate” levels per World Health Organization Standards.
The use of chemicals to modify weather conditions is a practice that dates back to at least the 18th century, when European states used gunfire to shoot at storms in hopes to prevent hail from harming crops.
By the turn of the 20th century, dozens of hail cannons were deployed for commercial purposes despite the unproven nature of such primitive geo-engineering methods.
Fast forward to the 2020s, and the People’s Republic of China has reportedly invested vast resources into weather modification programs that will be tested in a region spanning 5.5 million square miles by the year 2025. The impact of such geo-engineering efforts could lead to regional tensions with China’s increasingly nervous neighbors.
Meanwhile, as the potential for a new cold war with the people’s republic continues to grow, professional China skeptics have stoked fears that the ruling Communist Party could use its newfound ability to manipulate the weather for military purposes. However, it’s worth noting that the United States military has been hoping to weaponize the rain since at least 1967.
However, with arid conditions and extreme drought threatening the food security of populations across the globe, the ability to literally make rain fall may not be as frightening as some make it out to be.
Additionally, some researchers have claimed that geoengineering could play a role in mitigating the impact of rampant climate change. However, it remains far too early to know the long-term impact of lacing skies with chemicals on a widespread, regular basis.
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