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Fallout Over Weather Modification Bill
Photo by Joachim Süß / Unsplash

Fallout Over Weather Modification Bill

Back in January, Sen. Steve Southerland (R-Morristown) and Rep. Monty Fritts (R-Kingston) introduced a bill that would ban the release of chemicals into the atmosphere “with the express purpose of affecting temperature, weather, or the intensity of the sunlight.” Despite some controversy, the bill already passed its final reading in the Senate on March 18th and is making its way through the House. Yesterday, the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee heard testimonies from a doctor and a cloud seeding geoengineer on the topic.

“I’m convinced that maintaining clear, clean air, water, and soil to grow our food in is absolutely important,” said Rep. Fritts. “And I’ve offered this bill with that intent in mind.” If the legislation passes, he explained, it will ensure Tennessee has sufficient guardrails when it comes to regulations and permitting processes. Dr. Denise Sibley, a member of Tennessee Freedom Doctors, stepped forward to testify, and mentioned that the “intentional manipulation of the atmosphere [produces] pollution and unintentional consequences that affect the health of our citizens, the safety of our water supply, our soil viability and crop production, ecosystem survival, precipitation extremes—with flooding and drought, climate variability, and disruption of the economy.”

But that didn’t stop others from panning the bill. “We see droughts, we see less bees, we see these things happening, but one thing we won’t talk about is connecting this to the reality of climate change,” said Justin Jones (D-Nashville). “Do you believe that climate change is responsible for these things, or do you believe it’s part of this conspiracy that the witness brought up, that the government is secretly trying to spray things into the atmosphere without our knowledge?... I just think it’s insulting to the intelligence of Tennesseans.”


Also at the hearing was Augustus Doricko, the founder of Rainmaker, a cloud seeding startup. He testified before the committee and defended the use of weather modification to steward creation as a faithful Christian.

When we interviewed Doricko, he expressed some concerns about the bill’s language. “Well, specifically the word ‘weather’ within the amendment,” he said. Wary of the effect the legislation might have on his livelihood, the Rainmaker remarked that fear of the unknown could get in the way of a good thing.

“There's reason to believe a lot of things that people think are chemtrails are actually just contrails, which are naturally occurring from planes… so there's that animus, which isn't a direct aversion to cloud seeding,” Doricko explained. “And… the second animating factor is people's aversion to Stratospheric Aerosol injection, a technology that the Biden admin produced a report on and is in favor of, which is emitting reflective aerosols into the stratosphere to cool the planet down.”

According to Doricko, not much research has been conducted on Stratospheric Aerosol injection, which has never been “operationally deployed,” compared with cloud seeding, which has “been deployed operationally for 78 years.”

“It's been researched extensively, both with respect to its actual impact on weather patterns, and then also its impact on environmental and human health,” he continued. “And even after decades of cloud seeding over a single watershed, the amount of silver iodide that accumulates there is less than background levels and has no ecological impact and no impacts on human consumption of that water or food from that soil. So it's totally safe.”

After yesterday’s meeting, the bill was placed on today’s House Calendar & Rules Committee and Monday’s House regular calendar.