10 March 2016 Max Mueller Esquire Middle East
It is often said that the next wars will be fought over water rather than oil. But what if scientists finally found a reliable way of making it rain? What if fresh water could be made to fall over arid desert lands? And what if that research was happening now, high above the mountains of the UAE? That would be pretty special, right?
The UAE has a rapidly growing economy and very little water to support it. According to the NCMS, with an average of 550 litres of water consumed every day by each man, woman and child, the country has the fourth highest demand for fresh water in the world. It’s little wonder, therefore, that the government is aggressively pursuing alternative solutions like cloud seeding, said to be up to 30 times cheaper than desalination. The downside is, nobody knows if it actually works. And even if it does prove successful, there are serious questions over how other countries might one day use this technology.
But at California’s Agricultural Defence Coalition (ADC), campaigners remain unconvinced. Their website cites a study by the University of California, Berkeley which rates silver iodide as “a Class C, non-soluble, inorganic, hazardous chemical that pollutes water and soil. It has been found to be highly toxic to fish, livestock and humans.” ADC campaigner Rosalind Peterson also takes issue with the lack of research. “The impact on our soil and water is little understood,” says the former state crop-loss adjuster. “We also don’t know how many miles from the seeding area the research should be done because it’s hard to know how far the chemicals travel.”