Friday, September 19, 2008

China’s Military vs. Air Pollution

China’s Military vs. Air Pollution

Before and during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, a frequent concern reported was air quality. China a country with over 1.3 billion people with over 16 million in Beijing, pollution and air quality has been a growing concern, not just within their nation but internationally as well. China has responded to this program in militaristic fashion. Literally. China has devoted more then 12,000 anti-aircraft guns and rocket launchers, plus 30 planes to fighting pollution and trying to control the weather.

Now this is not as ominous as it sounds. China began research into the highly skeptical science of weather control in 1958. They realized that, with their growing population, vast amounts of water would be necessary to accommodate their citizens. Water is needed for crops, nourishment and everyday use and with some of its water sources significantly polluted especially in northern China a solution has to be presented.

Today China is presently using a method known as cloud seeding to bring about more rainfall. Launching pellets of silver iodide into clouds, China hopes to create a chemical reaction to create a chemical reaction in clouds to produce rainfall. Rainfall normally occurs when moisture collects around particles eventually reaching a level of saturation that then has to release the collected moisture that has been collected. Theoretically, cloud seeding helps this process along by providing more “nuclei” for moisture to collect around. In this case that nuclei is Silver iodide, ideal for this situation because of its chemical form is similar to ice. In warmer and more humid areas the chemical calcium chloride is switched with the Silver iodide.

Chinese peasants are then paid over $100 dollars a month to use rocket launchers and anti air-craft guns into the atmosphere to help create rainfall. This process was used heavily before the Olympics for a variety of reasons. One was to create rainfall to help eliminate the rampant air-pollution running wild in Beijing as smog often disappears after rainfall. Another reason was to try to have it rain before the opening ceremony to create clear skies for the international sporting event.

The biggest question though is, does weather seeding works. China spends $60 to $90 million dollars a year on this process. Since 1995 all the way 2003 China has spent over $266 million on this idea. Chinese scientist, Zhiang Qiang, who is in charge of the weather modification office, claims that Beijing’s Water Supply has already increased 13 percent during this years cloud seeding. Good news for the 16 million citizens living there.

Whether or not it works, one can make the argument that it is encouraging to see China taking pro-active steps to take eliminate air pollution and come up with new ways for cleaner water. It has yet to been seen whether the U.S. would arm its farmers with anti-aircraft guns in the farming belt, or suburban house moms in Los Angels , during a drought, but if China continues to see reduced pollution and increased rainfall it might not be out of the questions.

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