Tonight’s topic is the weather, what we can and cannot do about it and whether it’s a good idea to fool with mother nature. Our guest is Rosalind Peterson, who is California President and Co-Founder of the  Agriculture Defense Coalition.  She and her organization have studied weather modification programs and projects in California and around the world and are raising serious objections.

Scanning the News on Weather Modification

From Hindustan Times of northeast India covered a huge snowstorm in Beijing, China.  A  story by Reshma Patil dated February 20 reads:

The Chinese can replicate designer handbags, iPhones…and make artificial snowfall over the Great Wall. This week, Chinese ‘weather modifying engineers’ ended Beijing’s longest drought since 38 years by covering the capital with artificial snow. The clouds over Beijing obeyed China’s command to such an extent that 12 snowed-in highways around the capital had to be closed and flights delayed on Thursday. Chinese weather engineers used 28 weather rocket launch bases around the city to seed the clouds with about 500 cigarette-sized silver iodide sticks to trigger the formation of ice crystals and snow.

 From the Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune .On February 20, its editorial board wrote:  “Cloud Seeding Project Should Answer Questions:”

In 2002, then-Wyoming Department of Agriculture Director Ron Micheli invited a Utah cloud-seeding consultant to a meeting of our state’s drought task force. Some Wyoming ranchers were convinced that Utah unfairly captured a lot of Wyoming snow that winter by cloud seeding before the Winter Olympics, and Micheli wanted to learn more about the practice. He was skeptical, however, and told a Star-Tribune reporter that he viewed cloud seeding on par with voodoo. Seven years later, there’s still plenty of reason to be skeptical about the effectiveness of cloud seeding — using chemicals to try to squeeze more precipitation out of passing storms. But Wyoming should have a good idea in a year or so whether there’s anything to the practice. […] [S]cientists are in the fourth year of an $8.8 million, five-year pilot project funded by the state to determine whether cloud seeding is a practical way to increase Wyoming’s water supply. […] But there’s little reason to expect that the results will show that cloud seeding makes economic sense for Wyoming. Cloud-seeding scientists estimate that, if done properly, pumping silver iodide into a cloud will increase snowfall in most cases by about 10 to 15 percent. Problem is, that’s roughly the same percentage of natural variability in normal weather patterns.
[…] Wyoming’s effort has been described as the biggest cloud-seeding research project in the country. As a result, scientists from around the world are watching it closely. The results will either give a boost to cloud-seeding believers or throw water on the practice. […] In some ways, it’s nice to see Wyoming on the cutting edge of something. But only time will tell whether the $8.8 million gamble was a wise move or futuristic folly.

A few weeks ago we read a story concerning public protests of PG&E’s plans to do cloud seeding in Shasta and Siskyou counties. Now, From the Shasta News, a February 4 story by Charlie Enkefer announces: “PG&E halts cloud seeding program for this winter”

PG&E announced last week that it plans to cancel its Pit-McCloud Cloud Seeding Program for the rest of the 2009 season.  PG&E representative Paul Moreno said, “Due to the lateness of the season and the fact that the generators are not yet in operation, we thought it best to stop for now.”   Moreno noted that winter cloud seeding season is half over and current drought conditions have resulted in few “seedable” storms. He said PG&E does not feel that is has been missing out on any great opportunities. Mount Shasta resident Angelina Cook, who has been actively involved in the opposition movement to the project, said, “While nature is the primary entity to thank for this development, our incredible grassroots response certainly helped.” PG&E does plan to continue the project in the fall of ’09, Moreno said. When asked if the mounting citizen opposition had anything to do with their recent decision, he said no. “It is simply not feasible for us to continue right now,”  […] When the issue was brought to the County Board of Supervisors last November, several community members made public comment, urging the board to look into the legality of the proposed project. Many called for the County to initiate a[n] […] environmental review process, citing a variety of concerns from air and water contamination, to the potential negative side effects of weather modification.

From History News at George Mason University Bernard Mergen, author of aWeather Matters: An American Cultural History Since 1900”  wants to dispel the myth that: We will soon be able to control the weather.

Call this the scam that will not die. For thousands of years humans have sought to control the weather. Mongols wove a [talisman] into the tail of a black horse to bring rain, and tourists flock to New Mexico to watch Zuni rain dances. Currently, ten western and Great Plains states spend millions of dollars seeding clouds to increase rainfall without convincing results. Sixty years of rain and snow enhancement efforts have culminated in the attitude expressed by a cloud physicist: “Even if it’s wrong, it’s like buying a lottery ticket where not much investment might pay off big.” Weather modification for commercial and military benefit is a dream that fires the imaginations of geoengineers. In 1996, a report prepared for the chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force argues for “Weather a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather in 2025,” and the president of the National Academy of Sciences and some Nobel laureates are supporting projects to fight global warming by launching small lenses into orbit where they would reflect solar radiation away from the oceans and building ships with tall towers to spray seawater into clouds to increase their reflectivity. In their audacity, such schemes remind me of Soviet era efforts to warm Siberia by damming the Ob River and irrigating the Aral Sea basin. Weather is inherently chaotic. Anyone who has watched a super cell develop over the prairies senses the complexity of these energy systems. Although the atmospheric sciences have advanced considerably in the past century, a good meteorologist, like an historian, is humble in the face of a storm.

Our Interview with Rosalind Peterson:
Rosalind Peterson is the California President and Co-Founder of the Agriculture Defense Coalition, formed in 2006 to protect agricultural crop production from uncontrolled experimental weather modification, atmospheric heating and testing , and ocean and atmospheric experimental geoengineering programs.

Part I:  Weather Modification and the Specific Concerns for Agriculture here in California:

  • Please tell us a little more about ADC and your work
  • When we first talked with you a few weeks ago, PG&E was planning to do cloud seeding plans for Siskyou and Shasta Counties.  But recently, PG&E cancelled those plans saying that it was too late in the season and that there was a lack of seedable storms. They also said that public outcry had little to do with their decision. Please comment on that.
  • What other programs are going on in California?
  • What is the range of “weather modification programs”?  Who conducts (and pays) for them? for what purposes? What’s the science or technology What might be their effects?
  • The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration conducted some 50 weather modification projects, mostly in the west, in 2007. Please describe the effect of these.
  • What sort of Federal legislation and regulation is required for these projects.   Specifically, legislation for a national weather modification policywas passed by the house and senate in 2006. What did these bills include?


Part II: Let’s relate our discussion to global issues and climate change.

  • You are critical of so-called “cap and trade” projects toward carbon emissions and call into question Al Gore’s rhetoric and motives in climate change. Please explain.
  • Some of the projects in “geoengineering” described in your writing sound very much out of science fiction movies. Please explain:
  • the Planktos Project, fertilizing the oceans with iron dust in order to induce algae blooms. What’s that all about? What are the possible consequences?  Who regulates projects like Planktos?
  • shielding of sunlight from reaching the earth through the use of particulates (like sulfur being released into the atmosphere).  Why? to what effects?
  • putting giant sun reflectors into orbit,  Why? What’s the interest?
  • Hurricane Control: the Dyn-O-Mat project, where  jets would drop thousands of pounds of a water absorbing chemical powder  into hurricanes to absorb moisture to try dissipate hurricanes.

Part III:  Community Involvement. You are an activist organization trying to publicize and control weather modification programs.

  • What motivated you to found the Agricultural Defense Coalition? Who else is involved? What activities do you have coming up?
  • What can concerned citizens do?  Whom should they write? How can they become involved?
  • Where can people learn more?

Website =

 Do It Yourself:

  • You can learn to measure the weather yourself. When Steve was a kid, he read Athelstan Spilhaus’s Weathercraft. New York: Viking, 1951.  Chico State call number QC 871 S76. A fun book for adults and kids with instructions on how to build your own weather station.

Do-It-Yourself Weather Forecasting, farmer style [this list appears on a number of weather-related web sites, the one we’re reading from was posted in West Virginia and Michigan—so it may not be completely accurate for California]:
Indicators of Deteriorating Weather:
Clouds lowering and thickening, ceiling lowers.
Puffy clouds begin to develop vertically and darken.
Sky is dark and threatening to the West
Clouds increasing in numbers, moving rapidly across the sky.
Clouds at different heights moving in different directions.
Clouds moving from East or Northeast towards the South.
Heavy rain occurring at night
Barometer falling steadily or rapidly.
Smoke from stacks lowers.
Static on AM radio.
Wind shifting North to East and possibly through East to South.
There is a ring (halo) around the moon.
If on land, leaves that grow according to prevailing winds turn over and show their backs.
Strong wind and / or a red sky in the morning.
Temperatures far above or below normal for the time of year.

  • Do you have weather pointers to share?  Please send them to us at and we’ll compile them for a future program.


1. Weather Girl          4:37    Fruit    The Trio Album – Live at the Church            Alternative     
2. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!     2:42    Ella Fitzgerald          Ella Wishes You A Swinging Christmas                
3. The Rape Of The World   7:08    Tracy Chapman        New Beginning         
4. (Love Is Like A) Heat Wave         2:46    Martha & The Vandellas      The Ultimate Collection: Martha Reeves & The Vandellas
5. Don’t Go Near The Water (2000 Digital Remaster)     2:43    The Beach Boys        Sunflower/Surf’s Up 
6. Weave Me the Sunshine  4:28    Peter, Paul And Mary  The Very Best of Peter, Paul and Mary    
7. Rain Rain Beautiful Rain  3:05    Ladysmith Black Mambazo  Long Walk to Freedom