Recently, the Chinese government has used 'artificial rain' as a countermeasure against fine dust and yellow dust. Artificial rainfall is a technology that produces raindrops by sending materials that will act as a condensation nucleus into a cloud by missile or by airplane. Three hours after spraying the nucleus, the clouds unite and produce rain. Artificial rain first succeeded in the United States in 1946, and China began studying artificial rain in 1958. Since then, China has secured the largest artificial rain system in the world. Since the 2000s, China has greatly developed artificial rain technology as a countermeasure against fine dust, yellow dust, and desertification. Recently, artificial rainfall is used to prevent wildfires and to clean up fine dust in big cities. Also, during the Chinese university entrance exam (called ‘gaokao') in the summer, it is used to prevent the heat by providing rain for test takers. As such, China solves many problems through artificial rain when it needs rain or snow.
So, how effective is artificial rain? Beijing, China, which was suffering from fine dust and smog all the year round, has maintained clear air in a gray sky full of fine dust since using artificial rainfall. Originally, the AQI (Air Quality Index) in Beijing exceeded 250. However, after the rain the AQI index dropped to just abov 50. It was also artificial rain that solved the worst drought of 2007 in Liaoning Province, China. During the 2007 drought, China created about 800 million tons of rain, the same effect as 50 millimeters of rain all over South Korea.
Accordingly, the Chinese government is planning to build a large-scale artificial rain park in the highlands of Tibet, which is the source of the Yellow River and the Yangtze River, by expanding the artificial rain business further. Since March last year, China's Hangcheon Science and Technology Group (CASC) signed an agreement with Tibet to build a large-scale climate control facility on the Tibetan highlands. The plan is to install combustion chambers and chimneys to burn the artificial rain materials, which will be the core of the Tibetan highlands, to rain on land encompassing 10 billion square meters. The entire climate control complex is expected to be about eight times the size of the Korean Peninsula. In addition, the Chinese government plans to spend more than 200 billion won on the western desert region to prevent desertification by regularly creating artificial rain. As such, artificial rain can be a solution to various environmental problems. If we identify and utilize the effects of artificial rain, our lives will be much better and more convenient in the future.
However, the side effects of artificial rain technology have yet to be studied. Artificial rainfall uses a combination of clouds to make it rain. So the rain that was to fall in many regions, falls intensively in one area, which can lead to drought in another. If used on a large scale such as China, the rain clouds in neighboring countries could be taken away. In addition, the smog phenomenon can get worse because of fine dust. If the nuclei are sprayed too often, the clouds in the atmosphere will look good, but the size of the drops of water may decrease and it may not rain. So the smog phenomenon can happen more often.
To control the rain is to challenge the realm of God. In the past, humans could do nothing but pray for rain. However, humans now have the technology to create artificial rain. Will humans be able to control air pollution such as fine dust and yellow dust, prevent desertification, and lower regional temperatures by controlling rain? Or will the situation get worse by causing serious side effects in exchange for challenging the realm of God? That is what no one knows.
Seo Seong-Il, cub-reporter email@example.com
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