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For the past 60 years, however, man has attempted actively to control localised weather, predominantly through a process known as cloud seeding. The US was the first country to experiment and today China and Russia carry out cloud seeding on a regular basis.
Some degree of success has been claimed in both dispersing showers and creating precipitation in specific areas. In theory, a seeding programme can make rain fall in areas where it is wanted and also in areas where it is not. For example, during the Beijing Olympic Games, the Chinese government claimed it was able to seed clouds and speed precipitation in weather systems
But the option that is taken most seriously is altogether grander in conception and scale. The scheme proposes nothing less than the transformation of the chemical composition of the Earth's atmosphere so that humans can regulate the temperature of the planet as desired. Like volcanic eruptions, it involves injecting sulphur dioxide gas into the stratosphere to blanket the Earth with tiny particles that reflect solar radiation.
Various schemes have been proposed, with the most promising being adaptation of high-flying aircraft fitted with extra tanks and nozzles to spray the chemicals. A fleet of 747s could do the job.