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Seeding the clouds to reach the sky: Will China’s weather modification practices support the legitimization of climate engineering?

  • Bettina BluemlingEmail author
  • Rakhyun E. Kim
  • Frank Biermann


In this Perspective, we discuss whether in times of quickly proceeding global environmental change, radical global interventions like “climate engineering” may gain legitimacy in China and eventually be deployed or supported. We argue that one cornerstone for whether climate engineering, and solar radiation management in particular, could gain legitimacy in China, is its current weather modification programme. In China, weather modification is institutionalized and deployed on a large scale, and current narratives around the legitimacy to intervene into the local climate may provide a rationale for interventions such as solar radiation management. In the end, in the same way as Deng Xiaoping coined the phrase “stepping on stones to cross the river” in the era of China’s Industrial Civilization, narrating China's “Ecological Civilization” may want to make use of “seeding the clouds to reach the sky”. [See ESM for a summary of the article in Chinese.]


Anthropocene China Climate change Climate engineering Geoengineering Weather modification 


Supplementary material

13280_2019_1180_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (154 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 155 kb)


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bettina Bluemling
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rakhyun E. Kim
    • 2
  • Frank Biermann
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia
  2. 2.Copernicus Institute of Sustainable DevelopmentUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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