Human technology

New Mexico cloud seeding project abandoned despite drought


TAOS, NM, Nov. 26 (Reuters) – A plan to scatter clouds over the mountains of New Mexico to increase snowfall during a historic drought was withdrawn this week after charges that it could poison people and the environment.

Western Weather Consultants (WWC) of Durango, Colorado has offered stakeout machines near five ski resorts in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to pump silver iodide vapor into the atmosphere and increase ice crystals. and snow. A state agency said WWC this week withdrew its request to deploy the 75-year-old technology that is widely used to combat extreme drought affecting half of the western United States.

WWC did not respond to requests for comment.

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Cloud seeding seeks to increase precipitation by adding small particles to the clouds around which water droplets form. These turn into snowflakes and raindrops.

The WWC plan, which was reportedly paid for with public funds, has obtained preliminary state approval, according to a document filed by the state in October.

In a public webinar on Monday, officials from WWC, which provides cloud seeding clients for Vail and Beaver Creek ski resorts in Colo., Among other customers, said the technology was an effective way to increase snowfall and studies have shown no negative effects on flora and fauna.

The company said then that the five ski areas in the target area of ​​New Mexico were not participating in the project.

More than half of public comments on the webinar opposed the plan. The callers stated that silver was a toxic heavy metal that could enter groundwater and soil.

“The solutions are to stop the destruction that keeps us from having rain and water, not to increase further destruction and manipulation,” said Marquel Musgrave, member of the Nambe Pueblo Native American community.

WWC withdrew its request the next day, according to a statement from the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission.

“The reason they gave was that the schedule was pushed too far for enough time for the program,” ISC deputy director Hannah Risely-White told Santa Fe New Mexican.

New Mexico resident Mike Davis, who helped lead opposition to the cloud seeding, called WWC’s withdrawal a victory.

Researchers say man-made climate change is intensifying the most severe drought on record in the southwestern United States.

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Reporting by Andrew Hay; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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