This has been grabbing my attention....big trend in cloud seeding corporations for hire. Nobody asked me if I wanted clouds, rain, or the sun today!
U.S. Senate Bill S601 (introduced by Senator Kay Bail Hutchison-Texas), might be passed by the U.S. Senate, and allows anyone to mitigate or modify your weather without public notification, consent, oversight or debate. This bill could also be added as an amendment to other legislation and passed. The implication for agriculture, watersheds, water supplies, and who will receive the benefits or the negative consequences are hidden from public
The most common sponsors of cloud seeding projects include water agencies, municipalities, operators of hydroelectric power facilities, agricultural or ranching interests, airports and recreational interests such as ski areas. An increasing number of sponsors are incorporating cloud seeding as an integral part of their ongoing water resource management strategies.
The materials used in cloud seeding include two primary categories, tied to the type of precipitation process involved. One category includes those which act as glaciogenic (ice-forming) agents, such as silver iodide, dry ice and compressed liquid propane or carbon dioxide, which are appropriate in cloud systems where the precipitation process is primarily cold (colder than freezing). Of the ice-forming materials, the most commonly used is silver iodide. The second major category is focused on cloud systems where the warm (coalescence) process predominates. In those environments, hygroscopic (water attracting) materials such as salt, urea and ammonium nitrate can be utilized. Of the hygroscopic materials, the most commonly used are salts.
There are ongoing questions about the effectiveness of cloud seeding, there also are some issues tied to the potential negative impact of some seeding agents. Silver iodide (arguably the most common seeding agent), in particular, is toxic when ingested. It certainly can be argued that the seeding agents are very widely dispersed, so that any one location would get only a microscopic dose of this poison in its rainfall. However, there are at least two problems with this line of reasoning.
First, the seeding agent presumably is scavenged from the clouds and the air by the rainfall. Hence, the rain itself will contain and concentrate this poison. It might be taken up by plants (and eaten by livestock) or get into the groundwater supply. I don't know if silver iodide is like lead or not, where each dose accumulates, or if the agent is broken down quickly into some harmless by-product by some natural process. My suspicion is that this product does not bio-degrade readily. I also don't know if anyone has studied comprehensively what actually happens to silver iodide in the environment. There are many toxic chemicals that can have negative environmental effects even at relatively low average concentrations.
Second, if seeding with silver iodide were to become widespread and routine, the amount of the agent being dispersed would increase. What might be relatively safe at the current relatively low dosages might become hazardous if seeding becomes a normal behavior, unless it can be shown conclusively that the agent either bio-degrades harmlessly or does not accumulate to toxic levels from repeated applications for some reason.
It's not obvious to me that the environmental impact of seeding agents has been given enough careful consideration.
Rapid development of corporations that perform operational cloud seeding, which intend to modify everyone's weather in a large area, without the consent of a majority of the affected people (indeed, without informing most affected people).
Among other concerns, it is possible that some unregulated commercial cloud seeding contaminate scientific experiments on cloud seeding. It is premature to be conducting operational cloud seeding before such programs have been scientifically proven to be safe and effective.
The need for publication of the results of weather modification experiments in archival professional journals and books to share knowledge, to prevent repetition of past mistakes, as well as to provide a basis for public recognition of a technique as safe and effective.
There are two contrasting attitudes about publication. Scientists doing basic research are oriented toward publication, because that is how they build their professional reputation amongst other scientists. On the other hand, industrial employers of technicians and engineers commonly regard their discoveries as proprietary information that gives the employer an advantage in a competitive marketplace.
It is incorrect to frame these contrasting attitudes about publications as professors vs. employees of industrial corporations, because research scientists employed by major for-profit corporations (e.g., Langmuir and Vonnegut at General Electric Company) are often prolific authors. Industrial corporations can protect their financial investment in scientific research through patents, or make a profit on research contracts with the government that involve publication of results of basic scientific research.
However, commercial cloud seeders are small for-profit companies that can not afford to engage in basic research (i.e., these small companies can not afford to do what General Electric did in 1946 in sponsoring Langmuir's and Vonnegut's work on cloud seeding, nor what Bell Telephone Laboratories did in other areas of science and engineering). The goal of a company is to serve its customers: clients of commercial cloud seeders want modified weather, not scientific experiments, and not technical publications in scientific journals.