With Operation Popeye, the U.S. government made weather an instrument of war

Popular Science | 3/20/1967 | Staff
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As you read this, somewhere, someone is probably seeding a cloud. State and city officials seed clouds in the Sierra Nevada each winter. It’s a way to make a little money from ski resorts that pay for the potential of an extra sprinkling of powder. But it’s also a coordinated effort to increase the water supply that flows from melting snow each summer and quenches the thirst of California and its neighbors in the Colorado River Basin. And local officials from Wyoming to Mumbai carry out summertime seeding to provide rainfall for farmers. Meanwhile, the Chinese Meteorological Association is the world’s biggest cloud seeding operation, reportedly creating billions of tons of rain each year to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

These peacetime efforts are perfectly legal. But after the details of Operation Popeye went public, legislators began to push for an international treaty that would ban weather modification from being used in warfare ever again. As is so often the case, the law originated in the United States, among the very people who had been secretly testing and, arguably, benefitting from the technology in the first place. U.S. officials approached the former Soviet Union about an international agreement, which passed through the United Nations in 1976 and entered into force in 1978.

Environmental - Modification - Convention - Treaty - Bars

Called the Environmental Modification Convention, the international treaty bars any action undertaken by military or otherwise hostile forces that could result in “earthquakes, tsunamis; an upset in the ecological balance of a region; changes in weather patterns (clouds, precipitation, cyclones of various types and tornadic storms); changes in climate patterns; changes in ocean currents; changes in the state of the ozone layer; and changes in the state of the ionosphere.” The convention is, in effect, so comprehensive it bans many forms of weather modification that, at least...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Popular Science
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