The Idea Of Artificial Rain In Lahore – OpEd


Due to increasing pollution, the Punjab administration is considering creating artificial showers in the city. Residents are having problems due to the increasing pollution, and medical professionals have urged individuals to take preventive caution while leaving their houses.

Air pollution in Lahore is always a problem, but it has gotten dangerously high lately. Nearly ten times higher than the World Health Organization’s recommended limits, the city’s Air Quality Index (AQI) has often risen beyond 457. High vehicle emissions, industrial activity, dust, and agricultural practices like burning crop residue in nearby states are some of the factors that contribute to this. These components worsen the buildup of pollutants and provide a hazardous environment when paired with certain climatic circumstances, such as low wind speeds in the winter. 

In 2000, warm clouds were used for cloud seeding tests in Pakistan. This was Pakistan’s first comprehensive effort to increase precipitation using cloud manipulation. The southern half of the country’s provinces experienced the most extraordinary drought in recorded history in 1999–2000, which gave rise to the activity. The Pakistani government immediately realised that it needed to stop this grave emergency and considered launching an artificial rainfall project, especially in sections of the nation prone to drought. 

The primary mechanism of cloud seeding involves dispersing salt substances into the air, acting as cloud condensation or ice nuclei. This process encourages the formation of water droplets or ice crystals, leading to increased rainfall. While cloud seeding is primarily used for precipitation enhancement, there is also interest in its potential to reduce air pollution.

Artificial rain formation could contribute to air pollution reduction through several mechanisms. Firstly, rainfall effectively removes particulate matter (PM) and other pollutants from the atmosphere. As raindrops fall through the air, they capture particles, bringing them to the ground and cleansing the air. Secondly, rain can absorb and dissolve gases, helping remove certain atmospheric pollutants. Lastly, rainfall can reduce ground-level ozone, a harmful air pollutant, through chemical reactions in raindrops.

However, the effectiveness of cloud seeding in reducing air pollution is still a subject of research and debate. The impact of cloud seeding on precipitation and air quality may vary based on local meteorological conditions and the type of pollutants present. Environmental and ethical considerations must be carefully evaluated, such as the choice of seeding agents and potential ecological impacts.

Cloud seeding is not without its concerns and potential side effects. One primary consideration is the ecological impact of the seeding agents, such as silver iodide. Research studies are ongoing to understand the environmental impact of these materials on air and water quality, plants, and animals. There are also concerns about unintended weather effects; modifying precipitation in one area could have unforeseen consequences on weather patterns in neighbouring regions. Ethical concerns arise regarding the intentional modification of weather patterns, posing questions about fairness, justice, and potential impacts on ecosystems and communities.

Regulatory and legal issues play a significant role in implementing cloud seeding projects. Clear regulations and legal frameworks are essential to avoid disputes and ensure responsible and safe practices. Moreover, there is scientific uncertainty about the effectiveness of cloud seeding under different conditions, adding complexity to decision-making processes.

While artificial rain can provide short-term respite from air pollution, experts contend it is not a cure-all. Coordinated efforts are needed to address the underlying sources of pollution, such as lowering industrial and automobile emissions, plantation and changing agricultural practices, and finding long-lasting and effective remedies. A comprehensive approach to enhance air quality must include investments in cleaner technology, more vigorous enforcement of environmental legislation, and more public knowledge of the health concerns associated with air pollution. 

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