Letters & Opinion

Making Rain to Fight Drought!

A 21st Century China Example of Necessity as The Mother of Invention

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Chronicles Of A Chronic Caribbean Chronicler By Earl Bousquet

Climate Change is driving the world mad, with daily rude awakenings for big nations and continents now experiencing what have long been norms for small and developing nations.

Floods and fires, heat waves and droughts, record-breaking temperatures, unprecedented and unexpected weather and climate events are baking large parts of Europe and burning across France.

Water is running low, rivers are sinking to bottom depths, people are walking across riverbeds, sunken World War II battleships are closer to the surface in shallow waters of drying rivers and the sunken ‘Spanish Stonehenge’ is now within plain sight and reach.

Forest fires across Europe this year have also blazed an amazing equivalent of 16 football fields per minute to date in 2021 – the size of Romania.

But the hot-and-cold mayhem isn’t limited to Europe, even though still recording the reverberations of its worst drought in 500 years.

Africa and Asia are feeling the changing climate just the same, as monsoon floods are also drowning India and Pakistan, while breaking riverbanks in Sudan and Zimbabwe, while the new global heatwave is also drying-up the Yangtse, China’s longest — and the world’s third longest.

China is drying up as fast as Europe and in one section of the Yangtse, a shrine with three Buddha statues buried on the riverbed for 600 years, last weekend made the light of sight by day.

La Nina and El Nino are also wreaking its own traditional havoc in Mexico and neighboring South American regions, but worse this year than ever.

And California is suffering scorched earth and ferocious fires, registering its worst drought in over160 years, with 97% of the state suffering one dangerous and unprecedented degree of scorched earth and fires, or another.

But as with every challenge, new opportunities also come with the search for solutions giving rise to new and innovative measures everywhere today — like Germany introducing speed limits on highways while seeking to import natural gas from Canada to help it through an expectedly harsher-than-ever 2022 winter.

The energy deficiency blowback being suffered by Europe as it painfully tries to wean itself off Russian oil has been accentuated by price increases and production costs caused by the floods and fires and crippling of supply chains as rivers dry-up.

But energy realignments and adjustments are easier for some and harder for others — like in Hungary that depends on Russia for over 80% of its oil and over 60% of its gas and unable to transition to new sources as fast as expected to by the European Union (EU).

Poland is also facing a grim situation: having reduced its dependence on Russian oil and gas, it’s now almost entirely dependent on coal, which has become unavailable due to supply and delivery problems, resulting in truckers charging 100% the cost of each load delivered to every household.

In the US, President Biden passed the nation’s biggest climate-related budgetary allocation of over $350 billion, while California has allocated some $58 billion in keeping with the administration’s policy of what Climate czar John Kerry describes at the COP-26 climate change summit in Glasgow as ‘monetizing Climate Change.

Climate Change knows no boundaries and the damage done so far has taken lives and destroyed homes and livelihoods worldwide.

The combined effects have also made it more difficult for hundreds of millions more to survive, particularly in developing countries where poverty was always a daily factor before COVID, Ukraine and the current economic, weather and climate catastrophes.

No one is left untouched anywhere by the rising prices as governments and people in the world’s richest nations face worst-ever inflation rates while staring recessions in the face; and workers are reacting to the effects of steadily rising prices on frozen wages, with railway and dock strikes in the UK, as well as by airline pilots and cabin staff, demanding higher wages while employers cut jobs and shorten workdays.

Accustomed with living with hurricanes and tropical storms, earthquakes and volcanoes, floods and droughts, rising coastal erosion and lowering tides, the Caribbean has also been experiencing the new weather and climate phenomena over time – from El Nino and La Nina in the 1990s, to the Climate Changes of the first quarter of the 21st Century.

But while (luckily) no catastrophic weather or climate event has taken place since the most recent hurricanes tore through the Caribbean island-chain before COVID-19 arrived in 2020, the region cannot wait for red flags and hurricane warnings to start undertaking out-of-the-ordinary steps to beef-up not only disaster preparedness mechanisms, but also engaging in direct community education and smart infrastructural interventions that learned from the unfortunate examples of others.

Now, like never before, creativity and innovation are most-needed alongside improvement and expansion of tried-and-tested measures – and nowhere has come-up with as welcome a solution as China, which earlier this month induced rain to fight the devastating scorched earth effects of the droughts affecting millions after the Yangtse’s lowering levels affected hydroelectricity plants along its tributaries, affecting supply chains across China and changing the lives of people on its banks.

China was forced to close factories, reduce office hours and even shut-off the trademark colorful night lights in Shanghai, but its decision to actually make rain is perhaps the most-ingenious and least-acknowledged response today to the vast nation’s worst droughts in 50 years.

Beijing’s revived its long-held scientific and technological ability to actually make clouds rain — a technology reported on back in the 1970s and obviously kept in reserve for times like now.

Think of it again: Making rain to combat drought isn’t something the world’s scientists have been known to have been exploring, but apart from again highlighting the superior level of China’s ever-advancing scientific and technological capacities, it’s demonstrated ability to make clouds that rain also underlines the eternal truth in the wise old saying that: ‘Necessity is the Mother of Invention.’

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