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Sunday Story: Weather Modification

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Weather Modification

The idea of being able to control the weather is one that has been around for ages. Just think of what man could do if he could control the skies! Even our own country has experimented with weather modification. 

For instance, the summer of 1972 brought an end to a five-year classified weather modification program by the US called Operation Popeye. The idea was to use cloud seeding to increase rainfall in Vietnam. The increased rainfall would wash out roads and river crossings, as well as cause mudslides, ultimately weakening the Vietnamese war effort. 

Cloud seeding is the process of using planes to add particles to a cloud to create a nucleus for raindrops to form around. Every raindrop has to have a nucleus to condense around. 

Cloud seeding has never proven to be effective. It works in theory, but in practice the results are inconclusive.

After Operation Popeye was discovered by the press, all activities within the operation ceased. This then led to public pressure to ban such operations. In July of 1973, the US House and Senate voted in favor of banning environmental warfare.  

Weather modification through cloud seeding was first attempted in the US in October of 1947. An airplane dropped nearly 180 pounds of dry ice into a hurricane. The storm, which had been turning out to sea, changed course and hit Savannah, Georgia. The public blamed the cloud seeding operation, though no real evidence of that association existed.

The idea of weather modification is an appealing one, whether for good or bad uses. What so many people fail to realize is just how complicated and powerful our atmosphere is, and how so very unlikely it is that any man could control even one small part of it for any fraction of time.


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