Thursday, July 05, 2007

China playing God with weather

This should send a shiver up the spine of anyone familiar with chaos theory:

RTRS-Olympics-China to try to engineer perfect Games weather

BEIJING, July 6 (Reuters) - The weather forecast for Beijing's August 2008 Olympics Games will be fine and sunny. And any dark, ominous-looking clouds will be immediately zapped from the heavens.

At least, that's the theory.

Next month, the city plans to fine-tune "rain prevention" techniques to ensure good weather prevails during the Games, state media reported on Friday.

"We are still in the experimental stage," the China Daily quoted Zhang Qiang, an official in charge of the capital's artificial rain-making and prevention programme, as saying.

"The lack of rain so far this summer is making it difficult to conduct more experiments and collect enough data. We need more rain," Zhang said.

China's Olympic hosts fear the normally bone-dry capital's stormy August weather could put a damper on the Games, and worry that an untimely deluge could affect the opening ceremony on Aug. 8 at the uncovered National Stadium.

Beijing, which is chronically short of water, is well-practiced at firing chemical-infused rockets into clouds to prompt a much-needed downpour, but organisers concede rain prevention remains a much tougher prospect.

Wang Yubin, a Beijing meteorologist, said the weather bureau would use "catalytic agents to force rain clouds to burst, should there be any, hours before the (opening) ceremony", to ensure good weather.

But the risk of an inaccurate weather forecast remained a concern.

"The forecast will have to be fairly accurate or we will not be able to fulfil our mission ... Cloud dispersal is more difficult than seeding, and we are working on it," the paper quoted Wang as saying.

Think Al Gore might be better off worrying about this than global warming.

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