Push for UN protection of clouds driven by 'weather weaponisation' fears

The French National Assembly was confronted with a demand this week to have the clouds in our skies protected by Unesco. The move comes amid concerns that weather systems could be scientifically manipulated for military or civilian use.

Who owns the clouds? A group of high school students, fearing the potential weaponisation of weather systems, put this question to the French parliament.

They were accompanied by French author and lawyer Mathieu Simonet who, in his book The End of Clouds, argues they are a precious natural resource in need of protection.

"Since the 1940s, experiments have been carried out on clouds in around 50 countries with the aim of manipulating the climate," Simonet told French daily Le Parisien.

The technique consists of injecting silver iodide or other substances into clouds from aeroplanes or canons on the ground, producing crystals of ice, Laurent Deguillaume, a physician at Clermont-Auvergne University, explained.

"They absorb humidity and turn into snow, ice or rain," he added.

Another technique involves injecting salt into clouds at high altitudes so water particles grow and are released faster.

"The impact of these experiments is not yet well documented, and the idea could lead to exacerbating tensions between states," Simonet warned.

He cited the 2018 example of an Iranian general who accused Israel of "stealing clouds". The cliam was quickly refuted.

War tactics

There was also "Operation Popeye", run by the Americans during the Vietnam War.


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