Delhi Plans Cloud Seeding to Reduce Smog

Photo: WikimediAllison Joyce/Getty Images News via Getty Images

The Facts

  • On Wednesday, Delhi State Environment Minister Gopal Rai announced that the capital city will consider cloud seeding — an attempt to artificially induce rainfall — to reduce its toxic air pollution.

  • Cloud seeding occurs when silver iodide or potassium iodide is spread to the cloud system over a location using aircraft; the substance forms nuclei where water droplets form before becoming raindrops and falling to the surface. To be successful, a moisture-saturated cloud deck must be present and can produce rainfall in as little as 30 minutes.

The Spin

Narrative A

While cloud seeding may solve the toxic air problem temporarily, there are long-term impacts to think about. The use of chemicals needed to produce rain has the potential to contaminate food and water sources, which could sicken humans and animals. Additionally, while creating rain in one area, there is the potential to create droughts in others. This human-induced weather technique should undergo serious scrutiny before being used.

Narrative B

Cloud seeding has a growing body of evidence for producing beneficial results. From triggering beneficial rains to bolstering healthy snowpack, the benefits outweigh the costs in many parts of the world. As technology advances, monitoring processes will also improve with benefits for locations like Delhi and beyond.

Nerd narrative

There's a 7% chance that a geoengineering act of Congress will become US federal law by the end of 2024, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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