Did the Earth’s climate just cross the Rubicon? It certainly feels that way given all the extreme weather events taking place. Europe recorded its hottest summer on record. California remains in an unprecedented climate emergency that may result in rolling electricity blackouts. We don’t even know what challenges will take place in the Southern Hemisphere when summer sets in. The gravity of these climate-related events is having knock-on effects across societies around the world. From electricity generation to safe drinking water, extreme weather is forcing us to craft durable solutions for these problems. It’s time to think outside of the box.
In the arid climate of the Arabian Gulf, access to drinking water is a climate-related challenge that has long been a scourge to the rapidly growing economies in the region. With ample access to seawater, desalination efforts have been a tried and tested method of securing water supplies. The UAE is home to one of the world’s largest aquifers of desalinated water. The reserve sits under the Liwa desert and contains nearly 26 billion liters of water that can provide about 100 million liters of water per day in case of emergency. Desalination is effective but costly. Each plant costs more than $1 billion to build and uses an enormous amount of energy to maintain.
In recent years, cloud seeding has exploded in popularity across the Middle East. While the effectiveness of cloud seeding is still a matter of debate and some scientists are concerned about unforeseen complications, governments from Morocco to the UAE are investing heavily in cloud seeding programs to secure water resources. Ethiopia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia have recently started large-scale cloud seeding operations. As the regional leader in the technology, the UAE has invested millions in extensive cloud seeding efforts.
In a land without water, artificially creating clouds is one way to create rain. Cloud seeding uses chemicals such as silver iodide as a seeding agent that quickly starts the rapid formation of ice crystals, which turn into clouds and produce rain. The chemicals are fired from specifically designed airplanes when the conditions are ripe for creating clouds.
Since the technology was created in 1946, scientists have noted instances where…