Luzhkov to Fight the War against Snow

shovel120809.jpgCloud seeding, the practice of dousing the clouds with chemicals from fighter jets to change the weather, really seems to be in vogue.  I remember first hearing about it during the Beijing Olympics, as the authorities sought to ensure a few weeks of dry weather and the occasional break in the smog – by firing shells from a 37mm anti-aircraft gun into the clouds.  Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez is also quite fond of the idea, and has discussed using Cuban jets to bomb the clouds to solve drought problems and increase agricultural production (he also told his citizens to only take 3 and 1/2 minute showers to conserve water).

But for Russia, it’s no longer just for the Victory Day parade, but also to stop the inconvenient snowfalls over Moscow … at least that’s what Mayor Yuri Luzhkov would like to do.  Megan Stack at the Los Angeles Times has the story:

Word of the proposal has sent a shudder through Moscow just as the first dark, snowy days have fallen on the capital. It has also piqued the surrounding region, which would receive the brunt of the displaced snowfall, and has raised concerns among ecologists.

“I was very surprised because [the mayor] never even asked us,” says Alexei Yablokov, who sits on the mayor’s ecological council and has concerns about the proposal, including the environmental effects and pressure on surrounding villages. “We never discussed it at all.” (…)

But there is a certain nonchalance to the way Russians regard cloudseeding. For a people accustomed to displays of great power, changingthe weather draws little interest.

“It’s true that the attitude here is more positive, of course,” saysAleksandr Azarov, senior scientist at the observatory. And why not, heshrugs.

“If there’s a drought, who wouldn’t pray to God for rain to fall?”