Cloud seeding does not cause climate change

By: Pallavi Sethi
May 9 2023

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Cloud seeding does not cause climate change


The Verdict False

Scientific evidence shows weather modification has no impact on climate change. Greenhouse gases remain the biggest threat to global warming.

Claim ID 1e326ba3

As the discourse around climate change has intensified in recent years, so has accompanying misinformation. Bad-faith actors regularly spread propaganda to discredit climate science. A British model known for spreading misinformation shared a video on Facebook in which she made several unsubstantiated claims about the causes of climate change, singling out cloud seeding as one such cause. Cloud seeding is a weather modification technique that improves the ability of clouds to produce rain.
She insinuates that carbon dioxide has been used as a scapegoat for the crisis, which deflects from what she suggests are the real causes, like cloud seeding: "They don't want to talk about the intentional climate change that they're doing through cloud seeding."

In Fact
Scientific research shows greenhouse gases – including carbon dioxide, among others – resulting from human activities are the biggest drivers of climate change. Carbon dioxide's atmospheric life can last up to thousands of years, affecting the climate for a long time. Examples of such human activity are the use of fossil fuels for transportation, gas emissions from livestock, and electricity production.

Contrary to the Facebook video that calls cloud seeding "intentional climate change," the process actually attempts to counter climate change's impacts, especially severe drought. Cloud seeding, the most common weather modification technique, increases rain or suppresses hail by adding condensation nuclei to the atmosphere, thereby improving the cloud's ability to produce rain. The Desert Research Institute (DRI) states that the technology releases a "small amount of silver iodide" into thunderstorm clouds from the ground or an aircraft. The particles form ice crystals, pull water vapor within the clouds toward them, and eventually grow large enough to condense into water droplets. Thomas Choularton, professor of atmospheric physics at the University of Manchester, told Logically Facts that cloud seeding has "only a minimal effect" on overall climate change.

The Facebook video suggests that carbon dioxide is used as a scapegoat for the ongoing climate crisis and that focus should be redirected to activities such as cloud seeding, stating, "They are going to keep telling us that carbon dioxide is the enemy... they are actually manipulating the weather in other ways, therefore the climate." Speaking to CNN, Julie Gondzar, program manager of Wyoming's Weather Modification Program, says that the cloud seeding technique is "just playing with cloud dynamics and cloud physics, on a super, super-small scale." It is important to note this weather modification technique can only be used where "supercooled liquid water" exists in the clouds. "This is not something that we can do out of thin air," states Gondzar.

The person in the video also cites the example of Solar Radiation Management (SRM), a different geoengineering technique to cloud seeding that aims to brighten clouds over the ocean. Professor Choularton explains that SRM occurs when sea-salt particles are sprayed into layer clouds over the sea to grow droplet numbers, increasing the scattering of solar radiation back into space: "The idea is to offset the warming from carbon dioxide increase as the geoengineering would cause cooling." However, the U.K. government has no plans to deploy SRM. The Met Office deems SRM technology "controversial" as its science is "still at an early stage."

Although cloud seeding can provide some relief, it is not enough to reverse climate change. "In my view, the only way of offsetting global warming from anthropogenic greenhouse gases is to reduce emissions or remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere," Professor Choularton tells Logically Facts. 97 percent of scientists agree that human activity has caused global heating, which in turn is largely caused by the burning of fossil fuels, which releases carbon dioxide, thus it is not a "scapegoat."

The Verdict
The Facebook video claims cloud seeding is a driver of climate change. However, the process attempts to counter the impact of human-caused climate change and does not cause climate change. We, therefore, rate this claim as false.

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We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before