Monday, January 25, 2016

Controlling the Cloud

     Weather occurs everywhere on Earth and effects every single person. Whether (no pun intended) it's rain, snow, storms, wind, or heat waves, weather can and does have a dramatic effect on all of us. We see with the destruction and devastation that tornadoes, hurricanes, and typhoons leave behind. We also see it with droughts: vegetation dies, resources become scarce, it's a full on panic mode. Even something as light and fluffy as snow can have damaging effects. Snow and ice have shut down metropolitan areas (hi, Atlanta), collapsed roofs of sports arenas, and have caused stress for millions of people every winter. Did you know that shoveling snow can actually increase your chances of a heart attack? Because of the weather mayhem, some people tend to ask "why haven't we made weather machines yet!?" It's a legitimate question. It's 2016. We have green buildings, printable organs, and butter that you can't believe, so why not a weather machine?
     While having weather machines could stop us from having to stress about weather, it may be more risk than reward. As you can tell, Earth's weather is not uniform. December 15, 2014 may be sunny and 65 (18 C), but then December 15, 2015 could be 35 (1 C) degrees with snowfall. It may rain non-stop one July, but the next July your area could be in a drought. This is the way it has been and the way it will always be. And while conditions may not be "uniform", there is some consistency. It's always frigid cold in Minnesota in the winter, and the fall is always a threatening time for the East and Gulf coasts thanks to hurricanes. It's never snows in Houston, Texas in June, nor do you ever see a day with a high of 50 degrees (10 C) in Phoenix in August. India always has a rainy season, and if you plan on visiting Singapore, you don't have to worry about bringing a winter jacket on the trip with you, even if you visit in winter. You remember that epic snow in Dubai? Me neither.
     Weather machines have actually been attempted. The scientific term is "weather modification." One of the biggest attempts is "cloud seeding" where airplanes fly into clouds and "seed" them with chemicals such as silver iodide to attempt to alter them. Seeding still takes place today, but it hasn't proven to be much of a success. There have been other ideas presented, such as pouring a large batch of liquid nitrogen onto the ocean to cool it off so hurricanes wouldn't form, shoot lasers at hurricanes to break them up, and polluting the air on purpose to block out the Sun from cooking up storms (such a great idea!). Weather modification has also hit road blocks over fear that weather machines could be used for militarization and war.
     So while being able to dictate the forecast would be helpful, it's best to leave the sky to be. Each day is different. There is a natural consistency, and if we went in and started stirring up our own conditions, we could disrupt that imbalance and throw conditions out of shape.
     Put it this way: do you feel out of shape and want to give up sugar? No problem! You can stop eating sugar, but the first few weeks, and maybe later could be brutal. Migraines, withdrawals, mood swings, nausea, etc, but why would you feel this way after giving up something bad for you? Well because your body has been used to sugar all this time. Since you stopped consuming sugar, your body now thinks something is wrong and has to learn to adapt. Phoenix may get sweltering hot in the summer, but if we were to use a machine to give the city some "Christmas" in July, then the Phoenix climate gets thrown off of its usual balance, and this could end up spreading and affecting a larger area.
     While having weather machines would be a great asset and could lower your insurance premiums, it's best to just let Mother Nature run her course, even if we don't like everything she has prepared. I'm sorry Miami doesn't get snow, but hey, that's what we have ski resorts for! (And you still have South Beach).

*photo by Michael Hyatt

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