China is notorious for smog emergencies, thanks to its severe air pollution. Smog has done everything from grounding planes at major airports to closing schools across the country. China’s smog is so dense that it’s even crept over to Japan and across other parts of Asia. Although the country is working on putting measures into place to combat pollution, China still needs a more immediate solution for clearing up the heavy smog. This is why the country is putting its hopes on artificial rain, according to the China Meteorological Administration.
China hopes to create this rain through cloud seeding, which involves sending rockets loaded with silver iodide into clouds, which helps the clouds form ice crystals that, depending on temperature, melt and fall to Earth as rain, which washes the smog out of the air. The Chinese have used this cloud seeding technique before during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but then their goal was preventing rain, rather than creating it.
So the key question to ask is "will it work?" Many scientists are skeptical, including Steven Siems of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. Siems believes that because smog already contains silver iodides in its dust and soot, adding more in the clouds is not going to make it rain if it hasn't already. There’s also the small problem of silver iodide being toxic, making it a topic of controversy.
So what else can China do? Obviously, China needs to put environmental protection laws into place that prevent future air pollution. Currently, the country has committed to spending billions of dollars on the problem. Instead of cloud seeding, though, maybe they should experiment with using lasers for rain creation — or even better, invest in a smog-sucking vacuum.
Via New Scientist