“We need more rain and we need it now. We need some divine intervention. That’s why I’m asking Utahns of all faiths to join me in a weekend of prayer.” —Utah Governor Spencer Cox
With water shortages in the American West continuing to worsen, policymakers are starting to recognize that incremental changes such as “avoiding long showers [and] fixing leaky faucets” will not be sufficient. During crises, “silver bullets”—promising but overly-simplistic technological solutions to complex problems—become increasingly appealing, despite the acknowledgement that no single technology or policy can address complex challenges like water shortages or climate change.
Cloud seeding is perhaps the ultimate silver bullet, in which literal silver in the form of silver iodide is infused into clouds, causing ice crystals to form and water to condense into rain or snow. Cloud seeding is a form of planned weather modification. Most commonly used to increase precipitation as a drought management technique, cloud seeding is also regularly used to clear fog in airports, fight forest fires, suppress hail, and even divert rainfall, as it was used, for example, during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.