The weather. After being worshipped for thousands of years in various manners (a respect rightfully deserved), this elemental tour de force is facing a steady decline in gratitude, as humans are now attempting to tell it what to do. For why worship the weather when one can control it?
After all, there are numerous advantages in ordering the weather about. Make arid land farmable, hold countries to ransom – all while comfortably knowing that Saturday’s 11 o’clock barbeque has a 100% chance of success.
These are at least some of the factors motivating Swiss company Meteo Systems, which, in a recent fit of scientific manifesto, claims to have caused more than 50 rainstorms over the Abu Dhabi Desert.
How is this done exactly? The company uses new technology- “a network of towers that use electricity to electrically charge the air”. The air, which is then ionised, seeds rain.
However, the idea is not new, as during Vietnam War, the US deployed mathematical genius John von Neumann (behind the atomic bomb) to affect a similar scenario over Vietnam (with less technology). The mission, named ‘Operation Popeye’, was to drown communists in a massive quagmire. The project failed miserably.
Not surprisingly, today’s revived attempts at weather control have received mixed reviews from the scientific community. Dr Deon Terblanche, expert from the World Meteorological Organisation, says the experiments have “a chance outcome”, while Peter Wilder, from the Technical University of Munich, says he maintains an open mind about the technology.
In any case, the idea is being taken seriously, as over 40 countries around the world are currently engaged in efforts at whipping the weather into submission, with Beijing leading the charge.
Presently, Beijing employs around 50,000 people in weather modification centres, with the primary aim of turning fallow soil into fertile land (which has met with questionable degrees of success).
In analogous pursuits, scientists are attempting to control hail, fog, hurricanes and cyclones. Indeed, computer models are suggesting that if specific parts of the ocean could be warmed, it might just be possible to keep the weather pleasant for the weekend.
However, Doctor Kingsford Koolamachi, CEO of the British Anthropology Department (BAD), warns such weather manipulation could be culturally catastrophic. He says not only would the English be confronted with activities such as outdoor cooking, but a marked decline in the country’s whinging could result in a national identity crisis.