Climate change: How Tokyo plans to manipulate the weather - Politics


Optimism is when you still believe in a technical solution. At least that's how it seems to be in Japan, because there are many ideas there to combat the consequences of global warming. bee deaths? Japanese scientists have developed soap bubbles that can be used to pollinate orchards. Before the 2020 Olympics, when the whole world feared problems because of Tokyo's summer heat, the cooling of spectator stands using artificial snow was tested. And of course the island state will not capitulate to that either climate change: Tokyo's metropolitan government has built new rain production facilities.

The craft of manipulating the weather to increase precipitation is relatively old. It was invented in 1946 by the US company General Electric. Salts or other chemicals are sprayed on the clouds so that tiny droplets of water attach themselves to them, creating larger droplets of water heavy enough to fall to earth. In some states, the method is considered a hope. China, the United Arab Emirates or Thailand, for example, have expensive programs to build their own aircraft, rockets or drones weather close. The technology is not new in Japan either. In 1966, after droughts in the 1950s, Tokyo's metropolitan government built four rain generators at Ogouchi Reservoir, 40 miles west of the city. In total, they blew silver iodide into the clouds for 800 days to get more water for Japan's largest reservoir.

From 2001 onwards, however, hardly any more. The Olympic and Paralympic Games, which did not take place in 2020 but in 2021 due to Corona, motivated Tokyoto build new facilities. And now artificial rain is part of the water supply strategy again. According to the Tokyo Bureau of Water Management, it rains about twice as much as the global average. But per capita rainfall is relatively low in the densely populated island nation. The dry phases of 2013 and 2016 were therefore considered a warning. In addition, you want to do something about the consequences of climate change. Anything.

Scientists disagree as to whether the so-called cloud seeding works properly. Also: Clouds that are forced to rain down no longer bring rain elsewhere. When China announced last year that it would wet about 5.5 million square kilometers of land with homemade rain by 2025, India felt threatened. Is the neighbor stealing the monsoons on which India's agriculture depends? And what does cloud seeding mean for the environment? "If I structurally do this as a state everywhere in the area, I sprinkle the whole country with silver iodide," Hamburg meteorologist Frank Böttcher said in an n-tv interview in 2021, "nobody has any idea what kind of fields that are and food means."

Nature cannot be outwitted at will, as we know in Japan. The pollen bubbles are not a real bee substitute. The Olympic snowmaking remained an idea. And Tokyo's government admits that the new generators bring at most five percent more rain - if the weather cooperates. Because without clouds and the right wind, modern rainmakers are in a bind.



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