Let’s Stop Confusing Geoengineering with Weather Modification

Dave Dahl
7 min readJan 10, 2017


For the first time in history, the US Government is recommending a federal budget to pursue geoengineering.

You may have been led to believe that covert geoengineering programs are underway. Or, you may think that “chemtrails” are a hoax and people believing the conspiracies are simply uneducated.

Either way, I hope to change your mind by offering this information― data you haven’t thought about (you’re busy with your own project), data that’s not easy to come across and which, frankly, is a dead miss by the scientific community, especially by those supposedly researching climate change.

You can’t know a thing until you’ve thought about it. And it helps to have the right data.

If you’re a skywatcher, you know what people mean when they say the word “chemtrails”― the persistent clouds spawned by high-altitude jet aircraft. Once you’re aware of them, they’re hard to ignore, so you may even have looked into it a bit.

And you may’ve found yourself chasing wild geese in circles. Because the majority of people talking about “chemtrails” and “geoengineering” are uninformed and misinformed, and should not be speaking authoritatively. Likewise, media reports are shamefully erroneous.

In the daytime, artificial clouds immediately affect the weather, creating shade and causing temperature and pressure differentials, which creates wind and disrupts normal wind patterns. This moisture rises and builds up in the upper atmosphere, keeping the Earth warm at night. These clouds were all produced by aircraft. (California, December 2016.)

The trouble is, there’s really no such thing as an expert on this subject. I know, I know―it sounds absurd. But I assure you, it’s true. I work with scientists; I’ve talked to the specialists at NASA; I’ve grilled the weather modification professionals and meteorologists and “climatologists.” But it’s a big universe, and scientists must be highly focused to be experts within their field. Hence, there’s an increasing lack of data overlap between disciplines as areas of study diversify and deepen further, and create a widening knowledge base that’s more and more disconnected.

Worse, when you ask a presumed expert how they know something, you realize they don’t know as much as you expect or wish. Scientists are not only relying on others’ data, but also on the contemporary consensus of the scientific community at large, which history proves is often wrong. Most scientific “knowledge” around the subject of anthropogenic cloud cover is in fact second-hand, and taken for granted.

The closest thing to an expert I’ve found is probably Jim Lee, who recently put together a timeline of weather modification history. However, like Rosalind Petersen (the only other knowledgeable, fact-grounded person I know of who is speaking about this subject), Lee doesn’t make a distinction between weather modification―cloud seeding to create more freshwater (local)― and engineering the climate to offset global warming.

For the sake of a mutual understanding in what will be a decades-long discussion, let’s start by making this critical distinction clear.


In short, weather modification most commonly denotes the current, ongoing “precipitation enhancement” programs that use aircraft and ground-based stations to inject condensation nuclei into the atmosphere in order to increase water supplies; geoengineering generally refers to proposed climate engineering plans that intend to use aircraft to disperse aerosols to reduce solar radiation via “albedo enhancement.”


Different Purposes

Weather modification is for local precipitation enhancement. There are exceptions (e.g., breaking up hailstorms to reduce property damage) but almost all weather modification programs are designed to induce more rain and snowfall from storms. Why? Because it’s the only way we can think of to increase our dwindling freshwater supplies. One of the reasons it’s easy to confuse with geoengineering is that it’s done around the world.

Geoengineering means engineering a planet. As applies to our planet, we discuss geoengineering more specifically as climate engineering―devising methods to remediate increased global temperatures. We could certainly argue that rampant weather modification programs through the planet constitute inadvertent geo/climate engineering. But that’s not engineering. It’s unintended consequences.

Different Approaches

Weather modification uses hygroscopic material to act as artificial cloud condensation nuclei. This facilitates the bonding of water molecules, creating denser storms that yield more precipitation to fill our reservoirs.

Earth geoengineering (or, climate engineering) proposes three possible methods to stop or slow down climate change. First, we can stop burning fuel. Second, we could try to remove and sequester the CO2 from the environment. But we don’t know how to do either of those things on a meaningful scale. Third, then, is solar radiation management (SRM), now also referred to as “albedo enhancement.” That approach proposes to use sulfur and/or reflective metallic aerosols distributed at high altitude by aircraft. This would increase our home planet’s albedo (i.e., make it more reflective) and bounce some sunlight back into space before it reaches the earth, thus reducing solar insolation (the amount of radiation reaching the earth). Why would we do this? Because, as with weather modification to increase water supplies, it’s the only tool in the shed.

Different Chemicals

Weather modification uses aerial and ground-based cloud seeding technology, most commonly dispersing silver iodide (AgI), which is a combination of silver nitrate and potassium iodide, and the most hygroscopic material known. It’s also worth noting that the cloud-seeding flares we use on a regular basis contain toxic incendiary materials, including metals like strontium and aluminum that burn hot. (Some countries also use frozen CO2; China does this in thousands of counties, often using cannons, to increase precipitation.)

On the other hand, proposed remedial climate engineering/SRM programs are not trying to thicken clouds and are not concerned with hygroscopy. Instead, they are focused on reflective properties, which is a different objective involving a different chemical set. Most of these proposals involve sulfuric chemicals and metallic aerosols which, rather than enhance rainfall, could inhibit it. And they will not make puffy white contrail clouds. The truth is, if we combine the current global weather modification practices with proposed climate engineering programs, we don’t know what will happen, and that’s really the point.

Different History

Ongoing weather modification programs are in place in most of the western United States, and in most developed countries that need more water. This has been going on since the 1960s, when we began using silver iodide instead of frozen CO2 to effectively induce more precipitation from clouds. Today, most states in the western US use weather modification services to increase water supplies. Here in America, by the way, these cloud seeding programs are typically paid for through surcharges on your utility bills.

Geoengineering has been proposed for the last couple of decades as a way to counter global warming. However, despite rumors and experiments and patents (we are no doubt ready to try this), there’s been no proof to date that such programs are in place.


So where do all the artificial clouds come from?

Okay, consider this: as jet airplanes fly across the sky, they emit a gallon of water for each gallon of fuel they burn. That water is in the form of superheated vapor blowing out the manifold at hundred of miles per hour. In the sub-zero, low pressure environment, what happens? The vapor instantly freezes into a cloud of micro-crystals, and in the low-pressure environment it expands to hundreds of times the size of such a cloud at sea level.

Prolifically dispersed silver iodide particles often provide plenty of the condensation nuclei needed to form clouds, because these aerosols are now constantly part of our atmosphere. Cloud-making chemicals are sprayed over every continent (yes, even Australia does it).

So, we have artificial condensation nuclei (AgI and ice crystals) and manufactured water (H20 gas), the two required ingredients for cloud formation, prolifically injected into the atmosphere so, of course, we create artificial clouds, through the use of the aircraft that seed the sky with water (big commercial aircraft) and the aircraft that add the condensation nuclei (small cloud-seeding aircraft).

Like natural clouds, aircraft-spawned clouds are highly reflective and, just like natural clouds, they can have dark areas when shadowed.

However, unlike tropospheric clouds that precipitate, these clouds tend to continue rising and remain in the upper atmosphere, just like CO2.

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It’s worth repeating that there are exceptions. But in short, weather modification most commonly denotes the current, ongoing “precipitation enhancement” programs that inject condensation nuclei into the atmosphere to increase water supplies; geoengineering generally refers to proposed climate engineering plans that intend to reducing solar radiation via “albedo enhancement.”

Could weather modification techniques be used for geoengineering or climate engineering? Sure.

But I believe the distinction is important because our current reality is this: a self-regulated industry has been modifying the Earth’s weather for over half a century with unacknowledged consequences. (Is it secret? No. Does the public know about it? No.)

Now, plans are in the works to start climate engineering programs alongside the existing weather modification programs. The irony is that the latter might be due to the former… which might be backfiring anyway.

Finally, let’s acknowledge the difference between weather and climate. Weather is today; climate is the weather year after year. So what happens if “modify” the “weather” a little bit, regularly and consistently, all over the world… as we have been for over half a century?

I believe in facts. I’m not saying I have them all, simply that there are things we know and things we don’t, and it’s always helpful to ask, “How do you know?”

The answer, nearly always, is second-hand.

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(Be sure to read this article about the January 2017 federal report recommending government-funded geoengineering studies, noting: 1) the report mentions nothing about current weather modification efforts or the effect of anthropogenic clouds on the climate and 2) meaningful “studies” will require large-scale spraying of reflective sulfuric and aerosolized metallic chemicals all around the planet.)