Chinese Language Blog

Air Pollution and Weather Control (污染) Posted by on Oct 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

To say that pollution or 污染 ( rǎn) is bad in China would be an understatement. In China’s fervent rush toward industrialization and modernization, it has neglected many of the negative externalities associated with the release of huge amounts of greenhouse gases along with the increasing destruction to water and land natural resources. If you live in China or have visited, no doubt you have choked through some days in which visibility wasn’t much more than a few hundred feet. Then there are the sandstorms, torrential rain and even ash “snow-storms”. In some cities, a daily dose of oxygen is on par with smoking half a pack of cigarettes. At least we know now why everyone smokes…

While China is continuing to switch focus toward clean, renewable technology, 1.4 billion people is a staggeringly large population to provide heating, electricity and energy needs to. Coal or 煤炭 (méi tàn) is a necessity in China and powers nearly all of the electric grid. So when you visit a large Chinese metropolis and find yourself lost amidst a smoky haze, remember that you are breathing in the dark side of development. Fortunately, China is actively pursuing policies of carbon capping and trading of emissions, along with cleaner coal burning technology.

Land and water resources are also dwindling at an alarming rate, due mainly to chemical runoff, pollution and desertification or 沙漠化 (shā huà). China’s waterways or 水路 (shuǐ ) are taking a huge hit from downstream pollution and water conservation efforts have faltered of late. Following that, China has lost a size able amount of arable land suitable for agriculture, making China more and more reliant upon foreign grain and food imports. To combat loss of arable land and growing desertification, China has planted corridors of forest to weather erosion.

But the most fascinating way China addresses air pollution is through a James Bond, almost villain-like method–they try and control the weather (insert maniacal laugh here).

China Controls the Weather, 天气控制 (tiān qì kòng zhì)

Forget Dollar Bills, this is how you really make it rain.

China has been attempting unconventional approaches to mitigating air pollution or 空气污染 (kōng rǎn) while improving air quality by going straight to the source of atmospheric pollution and influencing weather patterns. China is launching an aggressive campaign to manipulate weather by changing the chemical composition of storm clouds and the lower atmosphere. It’s doing so by creating precipitation in hopes of cleaning out particulate matter and smog. So next time it rains or snows quite abruptly and suddenly, you may just have the CCP to thank.

How China controls the weather is rather simple, they shoot missles, RPGS and fly crop-duster-like jets into the atmosphere, called cloud seeding. The jets/rockets release silver iodide, which is thought to concentrate and “cluster” moisture together, thus forming rain droplets. As the rain droplets become larger, their weight causes them to fall from the sky, hence yield man-made rain…or so that’s the supposed science behind it.

Watch how the Chinese control the weather:

The question still remains whether or not cloud seeding is A) effective and B) beneficial to the environment. To me, however, cloud seeding seems very similar to Sudafed. While it alleviates your symptoms (drought and air pollution) and improves your quality of life temporarily (so you can get into work or get some sleep), it doesn’t remedy the inherent sickness plaguing you (or air quality that’s choking you).

Hence it is not a solution to the air pollution problem, but rather, a quick fix to keep people briefly satisfied. Soon, however, no amount of cloud seeding or assaults on our atmosphere will right the wrongs done to the Chinese environment. Stay tuned.

Useful Vocabulary:

污染 ( rǎn): pollution

水路 (shuǐ ): waterways

空气 (kōng ): air/atmosphere

空气污染 (kōng rǎn): air pollution

水污染 (shuǐ rǎn): water pollution

沙漠化 (shā huà): desertification

天气控制 (tiān qì kòng zhì): “weather control” or manipulation precipitation

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About the Author: Stephen

Writer and blogger for all things China related. Follow me on twitter: @seeitbelieveit -- My Background: Fluent Mandarin speaker with 3+ years working, living, studying and teaching throughout the mainland. Student of Kung Fu and avid photographer and documentarian.


  1. dust control solutions:

    I think pollution directly impacts on weather. Weather has totally changed due to high sir pollution. Great post, what you said is really helpful to me. You say absolutely right.

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