The Next Water Debate – Cloud Seeding

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Clouds heavy with rain.

Access to a limited water supply is becoming a bigger and more urgent issue the world over and cloud seeding is right at the front of the debate. Seeding of clouds to control rainfall has been around for a long time. As long ago as the 1940’s, Australia performed cloud seeding experiments in attempt to create some rainfall in the arid interior of the country. Just this past year, Russia created a world-wide media frenzy when the Moscow Mayor announced that is was no longer going to snow on his winter events. The Russians decided that they would seed the approaching storm clouds to make them dump their moisture before reaching Moscow. There was some outcry from the population upwind of Moscow who did not want the extra moisture deposited on their towns. I even remember some talk about possible financial compensation for those upstream cities and towns to quiet their objections. I guess it does not matter now, as the last I heard, even with cloud seeding Moscow was having one of the snowiest winters in years. Even with recent advances in cloud seeding technology, it must still be an inexact science.

Future cloud seeding disputes will most likely happen in the western United States. Here, some governments are planning cloud seeding projects to cause passing winter storms to deposit more of their moisture locally to help fill reservoirs with the supply western communities need to get through their long dry summers. The objections this time come from governments further inland who believe that if this seeding happens, their rain and snowfall would be reduced and their water supplies depleted. It will surely be a knock down fight if the central California farm areas attempt cloud seeding to increase rainfall, and likely reducing rainfall to Las Vegas which lies directly to the east. Legal action is sure to happen if any of these cloud seeding programs go forward, raising a host of interesting questions.

The biggest legal issue to be resolved will probably be the question of whether anyone owns or has rights to the water in clouds passing over head. Water rights have long been established for water flowing over and under land, allowing us to drill a well on our properties to supply our homes. Many people also have irrigation rights that allow pumping of water from rivers and streams. But even these long standing rights to water have recently been debated in the courts, pitting the need for public benefit against the west’s long standing embrace of private rights to the water supply.

Many believe fights over water are probably unavoidable but I think there is hope.  But, unless we devote the resources needed to accomplish things like demanding significant agricultural and commercial conservation, developing affordable desalination, and increasing water recycling, legal and political water battles are in our future.  As of today, the estimated population of the world is 6,796,000,000.  Estimates are that we will reach 9 billion by the year 2040, eventually peaking at 10 billion.  As someone said to me recently “if you think we have water troubles now, just wait a decade or two”.  We can’t afford to wait.

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Will Sig
1 Dennis the Vizsla

Unfortunately, failing to take action until something reaches a crisis point seems to be what we do best.
.-= Dennis the Vizsla´s last blog ..a skolarly treetis on the mango minster flyball turnamint!!! =-.

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2 Walter

I believe that cloud seeding is just a temporary fix. Authorities should focus more on mitigating the effects of climate change. 🙂
.-= Walter´s last blog ..Criticism: the unwanted mentor =-.

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3 Anne

The biggest problem with this is the amount of pollution that gets in the sky because of this practice … that is what we are breathing … One of the ingredients I heard they are using is aluminium … which is linked to Alzheimers …

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4 Anna

Will it just worry me that if we disturb the natural earth cycle, not that we didn’t, more strange things may happen to our environment. We take water from here, move it there, but how about we over look something. I know water is needed, but I believe that it is better for the nature to balance itself out, and be they way it is, and may be we need population control too. Oh well this is my two cents. Anna 🙂
.-= Anna´s last blog ..Digital Postcard Series: Melting Athabasca Glacier, Rocky Mountains, Canada =-.

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5 Robert Walz

I believe it is feasible and possible, at a reasonable cost, to install generators
on mountain tops to increase the snow fall. This in turn, when melted fills reservoirs. I realize clouds are an inexact science and are unpredictable but with our drought conditions it certainly is worth trying. I know from personal experience it suppresses hail, but some religious fanatics state we are “messing with God and Nature” and it should not be permitted. To satisfy people with growing crops perhaps the seeding of the clouds should be in the winter season. Let’s give it a try!

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6 Will

What do you mean by generators, Robert? Cloud seeding suppresses hail? Interesting.

I have heard recently about some real political debate over the cloud seeding idea. If I seed the clouds before they get to you, then you get less rain. There is only a set amount of water in the clouds. If we start artificially “farming” this water, then real battles, political and otherwise are possible.

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