China's plan to keep the skies sunny and clear during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing shows how far weather modification has come, climatologists say.
If a storm approaches the city, the Chinese said they would seed the clouds with silver iodide to force rainfall, cleansing the air and ensuring spectators and athletes stay dry.
It'll be a nice trick if they can pull it off. But it's not that easy:
When silver iodide is dispersed in clouds, it can cause moisture to condense, similar to the way water condenses on the outside of a cold drink in a glass on a hot day, Mr. Hoffman said. However, if too much silver iodide is added to clouds heavy with moisture, it can overwhelm their ability to condense, thereby stopping the rain.
Scientists must make educated guesses about how much silver iodide should be dispersed and the best time for it.
In addition, tampering with the weather can create unplanned consequences, he said.
"There is also the chance that the seeding will produce hail where it wouldn't have happened otherwise," Mr. Lilly said. "I wouldn't want to be subject to the lawsuits."
I bet the Chinese government knows all about the concept of sovereign immunity.