This from the ABC (Australia Broadcasting Company):
PM - Tuesday, 20 July , 2004 18:36:26
Reporter: John Taylor
MARK COLVIN: There are fears of further flooding and landslides with heavy rains forecast over most parts of China this week. Already in one province alone, 60,000 people have been affected, but the recent rains obscure the fact that much of China is short of water.
Cloud seeding, especially over major cities, has emerged as a common solution, but as China Correspondent John Taylor reports, one area's cloud seeding can look like another area's drought.
JOHN TAYLOR: If the heavens aren't forthcoming, China's rainmakers aren't prepared to wait. Across the nation more than 30,000 people have been tasked with a single objective - bring down the rain. And they use planes, rockets and even artillery shells to make it happen.
Professor Wang Angsheng, from the National Disaster Relief Centre at the Chinese Academy of Science, says workers disperse chemicals into clouds to make it rain.
(Wang Angsheng speaking)
"It means, to add in some artificial cores, such as silver iodide or CO2 and such kind of chemicals, and some other chemicals - a small amount, but highly condensed," he says. "It helps cloud to have more cores, which will form small raindrops. Small raindrops collide with each other and form big raindrops, and then it increases the possibility of raining," he says.
It's uncanny living in Beijing how it rains on the eve of major events. Be it a big domestic event, or a visiting foreign politician, the rain has usually fallen the day before, making for temporary blue skies free of the normal haze.
Chinese officials say cloud seeding has helped to relieve severe droughts and water shortages in cities. In Shanghai officials are considering the measure to cool the daytime temperature, easing demand for electricity.
The technique is now so widespread that it is reportedly sparking rows between neighbouring areas, with claims of rain-greed.
The state-run China Daily newspaper recently cited a case in central Henan province.
Five neighbouring arid cities raced to cloud seed when the skies recently looked promising.
The rain came, but some local weather bureau officials in the last city, which received the least rain, have accused their counterparts of intercepting and overusing clouds.
Professor Wang says the competition is understandable.
(Wang Angsheng speaking)
"We all work on cloud seeding to make rain fall and increase the volume of raindrops," he says. "It is understandable, generally speaking, if there is strong convection rain, even if we don't work on it, it will fall too. In summer time, we can see lots of clouds, and without any cloud seeding works, rain falls. When it is very dry through in certain places, it aspires for clouds. Our institute has certain methods, rockets or flaks with which we hope to get the clouds down, or to put it more vividly, we want to shoot down the clouds," he says.
JOHN TAYLOR: The political storm clouds are brewing. But for now, rockets and planes are being used at will and in competition in China to bring down the rain.
This is John Taylor in Beijing for PM.
My Commentary Follows
Since the covert weather modification program in the U.S. is so closely related to laser weapons, particle beam weapons, and stealth aircraft delivery systems, it is a program trapped within a national secret. No public, or open scientific debate exist on the merits of the program.
By choosing an open path toward a weather modification policy will China rapidly advance methods that are simpler, less expense, more effective, and more reliable? Will China leap frog the U.S. in this important area?
Note: Thanks to a regular reader for this info.