As Water Supply Reaches Record Low, California Combats Drought With Black-Ops Weather Control Technology From Vietnam War
California is scrambling to prevent a water shortage crisis from escalating into a catastrophe.
Last year was the driest year in recorded history for many areas of California and conditions have yet to improve in 2014, according to recent snow surveys.
In January, after Gov. Jerry Brown declared a State of Emergency, California’s Department of Water Resources said it would reduce the supply of water from reservoirs to the lowest level in its 54-year history.
As the severity of the drought has escalated in recent months, the state has ramped up efforts to induce rainfall through a controversial weather modification technology known as cloud seeding.
Cloud seeding involves spraying fine particles of silver iodide into a cloud system, which causes water droplets in the clouds to form ice crystals that grow larger and turn into snowflakes.
Weather modification technologies are a staple of contemporary conspiracy theory. And for good reason.
On March 20, 1967, the U.S. Department of Defense began a top secret rainmaking campaign over large parts of North Vietnam and Laos known as Operation Popeye.
The operation used US C-130 aircraft from the Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base to spray chemical mixtures designed to induce precipitation into cloud formations. In total, the U.S. flew 2,602 missions and expended 47,409 cloud seeding units over a period of five years.
According to declassified Defense Department documents, the objective of Operation Popeye was to “increase rainfall sufficiently in carefully selected areas to deny the [Viet Cong] the use of roads by (1) softening road surfaces, (2) causing landslides along roadways, (3) washing out river crossings, and (4) maintaining saturated soil conditions beyond the normal time span.”
The Defense Department estimated that Operation Popeye increased precipitation in the region by about 5%.
In 1971, a newspaper reporter named Jack Andersen exposed the secret Operation Popeye effort when he reported on a leaked 1967 memo from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to President Johnson.
The revelation resulted in a political controversy about the military’s use of environmental modification technologies.
“Rainmaking as a weapon of war can only lead to the development of vastly more dangerous environmental techniques whose consequences may be unknown and may cause irreparable damage to our global environment,” said Senator Claiborne Pell, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.
In 1977, the U.S. signed the United Nation’s “Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques,” which outlawed the military use of environmental modification technologies.
While the UN prohibition has prevented the federal government from engaging or sponsoring cloud seeding activities, it has not stopped the state of California from doing so.
In 2005, John Marburger, President George W. Bush’s primary science and technology advisor, requested that Senator Kay Hutchison from Texas defer consideration of proposed legislation that would have established a federal cloud seeding program.
The Administration respectfully requests that you defer further consideration of the bill pending the outcome of an inter-agency discussion of these issues that the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) would coordinate – with the Department of Justice on legal issues, with the Department of State on foreign policy implications, with the Departments of Defense and State on national security implications, and with pertinent research agencies to consider the reasons the U.S. Government previously halted its work in this area.
Unlike the U.S. government, California state agencies appear to have embraced cloud seeding as a cost-effective strategy for mitigating the impacts of a severe and prolonged drought.
Critics have claimed for years that cloud seeding was widely used by electric utilities and ski area operators, but those claims have been difficult to corroborate until recently.
For example, Sacramento Municipal Utility District has reportedly hired pilots to seed clouds over areas where additional snowfall would enhance their hydroelectric operations.
The California Department of Water Resources, which supply water to 25 million Californians and roughly 750,000 acres of irrigated farmland, estimated cloud seeding projects generate 400,000 acre-feet of additional water supply annually in the state. An acre-foot is enough water to supply a typical household for a year.
While California certainly needs every drop of water it can get, it is unclear whether it has the legal right to take water from other regions by artificially inducing precipitation. It is also unclear whether the technology is safe.
Critics of Operation Popeye claimed cloud seeding had contributed to devastating typhoons and flooding that took place in Vietnam in 1971.