It's uncanny living in Beijing how it rains on the eve of major events. Be it a big domestic event, or a visiting foreign politician, the rain has usually fallen the day before, making for temporary blue skies free of the normal haze.
Chinese officials say cloud seeding has helped to relieve severe droughts and water shortages in cities. In Shanghai officials are considering the measure to cool the daytime temperature, easing demand for electricity.
When next summer's Olympics roll around, the Beijing Weather Modification Office will be poised to intercept incoming clouds, draining them before they get to the festivities. No fewer than 32,000 people nationwide are employed by the Weather Modification Office - "some of them farmers, who are paid $100 a month to handle anti-aircraft guns and rocket launchers" loaded with cloud-seeding compounds. Some estimate that up to 50 billion tons of artificial rain will be produced by 2010. But Taylor noted that this has resulted in competition between cities to seed clouds first, and bitter acrimony when when region receives water claimed by another.