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China’s plans to control the weather just got a huge boost

Published Dec 31st, 2020 5:37PM EST
weather modification
Image: Reid Wiseman/NASA

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  • China dreams of one day having robust weather-modification systems that it can use at will, and it’s ramping up its development of those technologies. 
  • In a new statement, the Chinese government announced an expansion of its weather control program, covering an area of over 2.1 million square miles.
  • The country believes it will have the technology to control the weather by 2025.

Man has imposed his will on many natural phenomena. We dam rivers, create lakes, build entirely islands, and carve and shape massive chunks of the Earth. The weather is something that mankind has always had to just sort of deal with — though increasingly intense storms are indeed our own fault — but that could soon change, especially if China accomplishes the weather modification goals it set for itself.

As CNN reports, China’s State Council announced an expansion to its weather modification program that will now see it cover over 2.1 million square miles. In addition to that, a further 224,000 square miles will be used to test what China is calling hail-suppression technologies.

In the statement released by China’s State Council, the plans sound incredibly bold.

China will have a developed weather modification system by 2025, with breakthroughs in fundamental research and R&D in key technologies, steady improvements in modernization and refined services, distinct enhancement in comprehensive prevention against safety risks, and optimization in systems and policy environment.

The total area of artificial rainfall (snowfall) operation will reach beyond 5.5 million square kilometers, and for hail suppression it should go beyond 580,000 square kilometers.

The release goes on to say that the country plans to have matured its technologies by 2035 and that modifying the weather “should arrive at a worldwide advances level in terms of operation, technologies, and services.” Wow.

In its statement, China points to the benefits of weather modification, including the potential to stabilize weather for agricultural purposes, ecological protection, and even emergency response efforts. The release specifically cites wildfires as something that could be aided by having a weather modification system in place.

If any of this sounds vaguely familiar it’s because it’s basically the prologue to a whole bunch of disaster movies. Snowpiercer, for example, (a personal favorite) takes place on a train that has to keep moving 365 days per year due to the catastrophic event in which weather modification technology accidentally brought on a new ice age.

It’s important to note here that while China may have experiments planned that relate to weather modification, it hasn’t actually proven that any kind of weather-changing technology works on a larger scale than, say, simply generating some cloud cover. The country is far from being able to actually control the weather on any meaningful scale, so while this new release makes it sound like a foregone conclusion that weather modification technology capable of covering millions of square miles is coming soon, we’ve seen nothing to suggest that’s a realistic assumption.