Authorities have used cloud seeding to trigger rains to dispel air pollution, which can cause many illnesses and continues to worsen in Pakistan.
Pakistan is the fourth most polluted country in the world. According to the NGO Human Rights Watch, at least 128,000 deaths are linked to air pollution each year. At the beginning of December, the level of fine particles measured in the air was so high that schools closed for four days to avoid exposing children. To clean the air, the authorities decided to cause artificial rain. A scientific process that can work in the very short term but which circumvents the initial problem.
This artificial rain was used mainly to combat smog, a fog of fine particles that is very harmful to health and which stagnates in the megacity of Lahore, the most polluted city in Pakistan and in the top 3 of the most polluted cities in the world.
To purify the air, rain generally has its effect, because when it falls, the drops precipitate pollutants to the ground and disperse them.
Planes, supplied by the United Arab Emirates and equipped with cloud-seeding technology, flew over ten areas of the city, considered one of the most polluted in the world.
This is a “donation” made by the United Arab Emirates, said acting head of the Punjab provincial government Mohsin Naqvi.
“Teams from the United Arab Emirates arrived here with two planes ten to twelve days ago. They used 48 rockets to cause rain,” he told the press.
But this technique is not unanimous. To fly the plane that will modify the composition of the clouds, we need fuel; we therefore emit more greenhouse gases. Another concern raised by the Union for the Conservation of Nature: no longer being able to stop the rain once it has started, with bad weather to blame.
The NGO Human Rights Watch recalls that exposing its population to such levels of pollutants is an attack on human rights. She calls on Pakistan to address the causes of this toxicity rather than trying to treat the symptoms.
According to the WHO, prolonged exposure to smog promotes heart disease, lung cancer, respiratory diseases or strokes. Successive governments have tried different approaches, including dousing roads with water or closing schools, factories and markets on weekends, with varying degrees of success.