Posted by: Sam Olsen | September 27, 2011

Silver rain conspiracy?

Anyone remember the rain at the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony? Nope, because there was none. (Unlike in London 2012, when you can expect a full horizontal downpour, probably hail as well.) Ask the Chinese Government why there was no precipitation and they will say because of cloud seeding. And this is the closest thing to a conspiracy theory in this part of the world.

For those not into intentional weather modification, cloud seeding, as mentioned in Wikipedia, is “the attempt to change the amount or type of precipitation that falls from clouds, by dispersing substances into the air that serve as cloud condensation or ice nuclei, which alter the microphysical processes within the cloud. The usual intent is to increase precipitation (rain or snow), but hail and fog suppression are also widely practiced in airports.” In other words, shoot some chemicals into the air, which makes it rain, so keeping it dry later on.

All sounds very impressive. But the problem is, no one can actually prove that it works. Many, many people, including the Chinese, claim it does, and anecdotally there seems to be support, but there is no scientific consensus that can prove 100% the effectiveness of launching tonnes of silver iodide into the atmosphere.

Try though telling that to the Singaporeans over the last few days. There was a lot of fear being generated in the Sing press before the race regarding the haze which lightly misted the city. (If they want to see what it would be like clouding the city, then come to HK.) But of rain, there was no sign. At all. Bear in mind that the days leading up to the race were torrential, it was a rather lucky that the gap in the clouds came during the race. Because at 3am, five hours after Vettel had claimed the chequered flag, the largest rain storm I had ever seen came to town. The thunder was unbelievable, and it seemed to go on for hours.

So was this the cloud seeding – a Singaporean Govt plot – wearing off? And if so, then why keep it secret? Is it that the silver iodide is bad for you? There doesn’t seem to be much evidence of this, but you never now. Let’s just say here that I find it hard to believe in big coincidences. But then again, it did make the race more enjoyable, so – and I apologise to all conspiracy theorists – who cares!

Clouds. Natural?

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