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China’s Weather Modification System: Is violating the Laws of Environment?

Author- Mayank Raj Maurya

Designation- B.A.L.L.B student

Contact - 945*******



In this growing world where humans are capable of doing almost anything but sometimes they unknowingly challenge the Environment. Humans know very well that controlling the environment is not good for human beings but in the sake of power, now they have a desire to control the environment. And for achieving this desire recently China announces that he is developing the “weather modification system” that covers an area more than one and a half the size of India. It simply means China can control all the clouds like- when they want rain or when they want a clear sky in a particular area. China has used this technology for a long time which is named Cloud Seeding. This technology has mostly been used at a local level to alleviate droughts or clear skies ahead of major events, such as the 2008 Olympics or last October’s 70th anniversary of the people’s republic of China. But the proposed enlargement is on a scale that could affect regional weather patterns. If you are using this technique for controlling the weathers and clouds so maybe you are simply violating the rights of other countries to get fresh water from the clouds. Clouds do not know their boundaries. Water and clouds not only ignores boundaries, it evades institutional classification and eludes legal generalizations.

Does a country own the clouds above it as they pass? And if so, does that ownership create the right to affect those clouds so that neighbouring countries will receive changed weather from those efforts? Who owns water vapours? These are some legal questions that beg for answers if someone uses weather modification on a very large scale.

Weather Modification and Science of Cloud Seeding – Weather modification is defined by federal statute as an activity performed to produce artificial changes in the composition, behaviour, or dynamics of the atmosphere. Cloud seeding is a form of weather modification. Cloud seeding is the only known method for directing rainfall to specific locations and thereby increasing surface water availability at such locations.

Cloud seeding is performed by releasing silver iodide into the atmosphere or we can say on clouds either from the plane or from a station on the ground. In simple terms cloud seeding works as follows- Silver iodide is mixed with moisture in clouds thus causing either an increase or decrease in the precipitation released from these seeded clouds. If silver iodide is released in small amounts into appropriate regions in cold clouds, it can stimulate the formation of ice particles which in turn accelerates in precipitation formation. The effect is an increase in precipitation up to 150 miles downwind. When silver iodide is released in large amounts, the effect occurs. This causes a decrease in the amount of downwind precipitation. The process of decreasing the opposite amount of precipitation from clouds is termed “over seeding”.

Cloud and water ownership under Property Rights Law

Who owns clouds and the weather? It’s a big question when we talk about the Cloud seeding or Weather Modification. American case law has given conflicting views on the clouds and water vapor ownership. In the 1960s case, a Pennsylvania court determined that the landowners have ‘a property right in the cloud and the water in them’, but the weather modification may be subject to government regulations. But in Slutsky v. City of New York, the court held that property owners ‘clearly have no vested property rights in the clouds or the moisture therein. Under the existing common laws, the rule of capture would put forth that he who has the accesses the cloud first, has the right to it.

Liability and Injury-

When we talk about the cloud seeding and weather modification a question automatically raises on the liability when changed weather causes damage. These issues could rise when a government or particular individual causes extra rain, which then floods the neighbouring state or country's field, or when cloud seeding forces rain out of clouds prematurely and that moisture does not fall over an adjacent state's drought- stricken land. These problems troubled early American cloud seeder General Electric, who chose to avoid such torts by experimenting with clouds or weather in laboratories to avoid responsibility for damage. The effects of weather modifications are too difficult to prove because to prove we have to notice all the minute changes in the weather. Would the Storm have happened but for the human intentions? If this question were answered in negative, then we have to show a causal link. Successful claims of this nature are exceedingly rare. Although the issues of liability for cloud seeding and weather modification has not been specially addressed, under the principles of existing international tort laws.


Some countries are rapidly growing in the area of Weather Modification. It is dangerous for mankind if we use it on a very large scale. Currently, water procured from cloud seeding activities is governed by the same surface water rights that already exists under state laws. Environmental regulatory actions concerning cloud seeding are likely to focus on the silver used to cloud seed which may adversely affect endangered species by contaminating water. Another perspective of cloud seeding is that countries will use excessive rainfall against another country at the war time so they can’t migrate easily from one place to another, this will be the worst situation for the common people who live in that area. So now we need a proper law for cloud seeding or weather modification to tackle the wrong use of this technology.









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