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

Abstract

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.]

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Search of websites of the State Council, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Environment and National Energy Agency, using the terms “qihou gongcheng” and “diqiu gongcheng” on 9 May 2018, and no entries were returned.

  2. 2.

    Thomson Reuters 2018, Practical Law UK Glossary, “Guiding opinion (zhidao yijian)”. https://uk.practicallaw.thomsonreuters.com/2-522-0010?originationContext=document&transitionType=DocumentItem&contextData=(sc.Default)&firstPage=true&comp=pluk&bhcp=1.

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Bluemling, B., Kim, R.E. & Biermann, F. Seeding the clouds to reach the sky: Will China’s weather modification practices support the legitimization of climate engineering?. Ambio 49, 365–373 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-019-01180-3

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Keywords

  • Anthropocene
  • China
  • Climate change
  • Climate engineering
  • Geoengineering
  • Weather modification