June 17, 2008

Los Angeles to Resume Controversial Cloud-Seeding Project

Los Angeles to resume controversial cloud-seeding project

LOS ANGELES, June 16 (Xinhua) -- Facing severe water supply shortage, Los Angeles plans to launch a controversial cloud- seeding project that they believe will boost rainfall and raise the levels of local reservoirs, a newspaper report said Monday.

The project, which will rely on injecting clouds with silver iodide particles, has won approval from Los Angeles county supervisors and is slated to begin this winter.

Officials decided to resume the program after a seven-year lapse caused by concerns over mudslides in some mountain areas ravaged by brush fires, according to the Los Angeles Times.

With California gripped by dry weather and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declaring a statewide drought, cloud-seeding is attracting both fresh attention and skeptics.

Critics have long dismissed seeding as a dubious technological rain dance. They worry that it can trigger landslides, such as the deadly one in the San Gabriel foothills 30 years ago when 11 people lost their lives in a storm and subsequent landslides.

Some water experts believe that public funds would be better spent promoting proven water-conservation measures, such as low- flow toilets.

"It's a bit of a sign of desperation," said Peter Gleick of Oakland, California-based think tank Pacific Institute.

"They've been doing cloud seeding for decades, but we've never clearly been able to show if it's what we've done or what nature has provided," Gleick was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 2003 released a report calling cloud seeding unproven and urged more thorough study.

(c) 2008 Xinhua News Agency - CEIS. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.