San Luis Obispo Cloud Seeding Project To Combat Drought Begins
San Luis Obispo is hoping that weather modification or geoengineering tactic known as cloud seeding will prompt rain in the drought-stricken regions of Central California. California has used cloud seeding for years to create snow and rain in the state, but it isn’t without its critics who feel modifying the weather has unforeseen consequences.
While most cloud seeding imagery features planes flying near the stratosphere, in the case of San Luis Obispo, it will be accomplished using ground flares and high-altitude planes. The ground flares fire silver iodide into the atmosphere. These silver iodide particles act as ice crystals would and prompt precipitation.
Central California farmers are struggling and desperate for any solutions.
“As Lopez Lake continued to drop, we were concerned they may have to shut off the flow to Arroyo Grande Creek, which would reduce or eliminate the recharge of our aquifer. Fortunately, that did not happen,” Brian Talley told The Tribune in a recent phone conversation.
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“I support cloud seeding because we need more water,” Talley told the board. “It’s cheaper than any other way to increase our water supply.”
“Sometimes, there are predictions of an inch of rain and nothing happens,” said Ray Dienzo, an engineer with the water resources department of county Public Works. “The idea of cloud seeding is, it would take those opportunities and make some rain of it.”
Geoengineering experts believe that cloud seeding can extract 9 to 17% more rain from any given storm.
However, the government modifying weather events has its critics. Many believe that such activity could result in unpredictable consequences or even international weather wars. Additionally, there is a risk of silver iodide accumulation which may be toxic. What if extracting more rain in one area strips another region of precipitation? Would farmers in Kansas support California farmers siphoning off their rain? Remember, storms typically cross our country west to east, so California geoengineering projects could serve to cause deepening droughts in the Midwest. But worse more, what if geoengineering in the United States prompts droughts in Russia or China? That could incite reactionary geoengineering projects that target our country’s infrastructure. It’s a sure bet China and Russia would retaliate. Both countries are working diligently on their own geoengineering agendas.
But its difficult to sell drought suffering farmers on passing up what seems to be a viable solution.
Author: Jim Satney
PrepForThat’s Editor and lead writer for political, survival, and weather categories.