It was a mixed success.

Make It Rain

In an attempt to bring the air quality index down from extremely hazardous levels, officials have begun seeding clouds to make it rain in Pakistan's capital of Lahore.

As The Guardian reports, the city of 13 million people has been choked by an unrelenting blanket of smog. Earlier this month, air quality levels were so low that the city was forced to shut down schools, markets, and parks.

In a last ditch effort to address the increasingly dire situation, the Punjab government sent a small Cessna plane to fly over the city, spraying a table salt solution over existing cloud patches to produce rain.

As a result, caretaker minister for the environment Bilal Afzal told The Guardian, the local air quality index fell from over 300 to just 189.

But it's far from a permanent solution: the effect only lasted a couple of days before the index skyrocketed again to previous levels.

Cloud Trigger

Pakistan isn't the only country to experiment with changing the weather. During the Chinese Communist Party's centennial celebration in the summer of 2021, authorities said they successfully cleared the skies over Beijing to reduce pollution with the use of a silver iodide solution.

The United Arab Emirates has also attempted to trigger rainfall by flying drones into clouds and zapping them with electricity.

Despite the short-lasting relief in Lahore, Afzal is optimistic.

"If we can clean our air at the cost of fuel for one small plane, the exercise would be well worth it," he told the British newspaper, adding that the plane would produce the same emissions as two to three cars running for roughly four hours.

Environmental groups, however, have repeatedly warned that seeding clouds could have unintended consequences that are still not fully understood.

In fact, Ghulam Rasul, head of the climate change program at the International Union for Conservation of Nature, told The Guardian that it may actually worsen the situation, leading to even dryer conditions and more persistent smog.

More on artificial rain: Scientists Propose Electrocuting Clouds to Make it Rain

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