The economics of cloud seeding


Continued from last week

Beyond the headlines, cloud seeding has many economic advantages. Arnett Dennis in his book entitled “Weather Modification by Cloud Seeding” indicated that cloud seeding aims to alter precipitation in certain regions. This also implies that cloud seeding can be applied in a rather local manner, meaning that this concept can be used to get rain in a specific region while there will be no rain just a few miles away, at least if this technique is applied in a proper manner. Therefore, cloud seeding can be used in a quite targeted manner and can also be considered as a quite efficient technique.
Cloud seeding makes dry places more livable. Local people have an impressive way of adapting to their natural environment. But inhospitable places rarely visited by rain can be inhospitable to tourists and foreigners. Cloud seeding can make such places livable.
Cloud seeding helps to reduce the impact of drought. Most of the sources of water such as rivers, lakes, and groundwater supply among other traditional sources are not sufficient or are under increasing threat of extinction due to the ever-increasing demand of water in vast lands and the increasing rate of pollution in many regions around the globe.
Since arid areas lack the moisture required for proper rainfall, droplets usually evaporate before they get to the ground. When nuclei are brought to the clouds, it boosts the probability of moisture getting to the ground before it evaporates. The more condensation takes place, the higher the chances of getting favorable weather patterns in such areas.
Louis Battan in his book entitled “Cloud physics and cloud seeding” stated that cloud seeding creates employment opportunities. Cloud seeding creates a good environment for agriculture to take place. More agricultural practices create more employment opportunities for the unemployed. The increase in these practices could spread to arid areas where cloud seeding has been successful and continue to create more agro-economic opportunities. Cloud seeding also requires skilled workers to make it successful, making it a perfect avenue for professional skills. Since cloud seeding will be needed much more due to global warming and the related droughts, there will also be many employees need in this industry. This can be quite helpful, especially in regions where unemployment rates are quite high and people desperately search for a job.
Another important benefit of cloud seeding is that it can also help us to reduce global poverty, hunger and starvation. Since water scarcity is a main factor when it comes to poverty, it is crucial that we can ensure the water supply of people in those regions somehow. One way to do this is through cloud seeding since this technique can help to increase the precipitation in dry climatic zones of our planet. In turn, farmers could produce more crops and the overall level of poverty could be lowered in the respective region. Since water scarcity will become even worse in the future, we need tools like cloud seeding to artificially alter the weather in order to reduce poverty in many regions all over the world.
According to Louis Battan, another upside of cloud seeding is that it can also be helpful in terms of tourism. Many people want to spend their vacation in nice natural places which are covered by tropical plants and trees instead of deserts. However, many areas across the world will look like deserts in the future due to global warming and only insufficient precipitation. Hence, in order to make plant growth possible in those regions, cloud seeding may be used. In turn, chances that tourists will choose those regions for their vacation would likely increase as well.
Cloud seeding may help to improve the overall GDP in a country. Due to higher average crop yields related to the use of cloud seeding, chances are that the overall GDP in the respective country will increase as well. In turn, a higher GDP also implies that the local population will be able to afford more things for their daily life. Moreover, also the tax revenue of the local government would increase as well, which also implies that more money could be spent on important infrastructure projects.
Cloud seeding may improve the overall quality of life of many people. In general, since it can increase the overall GDP and crop yields, the local population will also be able to afford more food on average. In turn, people will have more energy to work hard and to further improve their overall living conditions. Moreover, through the increase in income and wealth due to higher crop yields related to cloud seeding, more people would be able to send their kids to school and provide them with good education. In turn, a higher fraction of children will be able to get out of poverty since education is a key driver for success in various parts of life.
Like the advantages, cloud seeding has also a number of economic disadvantages. It requires potentially harmful chemicals. Chemicals used in cloud seeding can potentially damage the environment, especially the plants cloud seeding is intended to protect. There is no substantial study done on the implications of silver iodine on the environment. Silver iodine may cause iodism, a type of iodine poisoning where the patient exhibits running nose, headache, skin rash, anemia, and diarrhea, among others. It has been found to be highly toxic to fish, livestock and humans.
Conrad Keyes in his book entitled “Guidelines for Cloud Seeding to Augment Precipitation” stressed that cloud seeding is not fool proof. Cloud seeding requires rainclouds. It cannot work on just any other cloud formations. Also, seeded clouds may actually travel to another location and do not cause precipitation on the intended location. Therefore, it can be argued whether or not cloud seeding is truly effective in producing rain.
Cloud seeding costs a lot. It is very expensive to produce artificial rain. The chemicals have to be delivered to the air via planes, which are hard to come by in places with very minimal income. Poverty-stricken areas suffering drought or famine may need external funding to have cloud seeding.
Conrad Keyes further noted that cloud seeding poses weather problems. If not regulated or controlled properly, cloud seeding may cause undesirable if not altogether destructive weather conditions such as flooding, storms, hail risks, etc. Places that naturally do not get much rain or no rain at all usually do not have the infrastructure to handle so much precipitation. With cloud seeding, these areas may become flooded quickly, causing more harm than good.
Since the technology behind cloud seeding is not mature yet and this technology has not been used for a sufficiently long period of time, the long-term effects of cloud seeding for our environment may still be rather unclear and therefore, we should use this technology with great care in order to avoid any unpleasant consequences in the long run.
All in all, extensive research should be carried out in order to fully understand the long-term implications that come with cloud seeding. It is not a well-focused on an area of study which makes it rather difficult to grasp every aspect of it. Despite having a good number of positive impacts, it also comes with threats that are not well understood yet which makes it an unreliable solution.