Is it nice to fool Mother Nature?

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Tyrades! by Danny Tyree

Yes, I was hunkered down paying rapt attention to the weather report on May 8 when an EF-3 tornado rampaged through a neighboring county.

Understandably, I was intrigued by a May 11 “New York Post” article about a technological push to manipulate the weather.

Eleven states already maintain “old school” programs of seeding clouds with silver iodide to generate precipitation. But around the world, weather wizards are brainstorming other tactics for dealing with droughts, flash floods and related meteorological situations.

Just imagine: drones that shoot clouds with electrical charges, “bubble curtains” that slow down hurricanes, giant wind turbines to stop typhoons, lasers to deflect lightning bolts, and similarly high-tech means of telling Mother Nature, “Just calm down.”

(The article did not quantify how much time the scientists spent in the dog house after that bit of unsolicited advice.)

Scientists quoted in the “Post” story advised that hopes of achieving total weather control may be pie in the sky, but we already see promising results from methods that once sounded like something out of science fiction. (“A rain-out for the annual Rutabaga Festival? Not if I can apply a Vulcan nerve pinch to that storm system…”)

My son, the engineering student, would probably love for me to delve into the technical aspects of the different weather-control schemes, but right now I’m more interested in speculating about who is going to be in charge.

Drones and 3-D printers have become widespread, so maybe someday weather-control equipment will likewise trickle down to the average person. I’m afraid that will make the aforementioned average person even less likely to get enough exercise. (“Sweet! I managed to program pre-made snow angels and simulated puffs of winter breath! Now let’s see if I can conjure up just enough of a breeze to waft my hoagie to my recliner…”)

Of course this will make extra work for insurance agents. Policies will have to be rewritten to replace “acts of God” with “acts of some dipwad trying to impress women with transcontinental fog events.”

Or maybe giant corporations will maintain centralized control of the weather-altering gizmos. The free enterprise system has contributed greatly to our prosperity, but I hate to think of Wall Street or Silicon Valley sullying life’s simple pleasures. (“Into each life, some rain must fall – but if you don’t spring for the extended rainfall warranty, I wouldn’t bother investing in any new galoshes, dude.”)

I’m sure the feds will want to get involved in the weather business. (“I’m from the government, and I’m here to help you…understand that your pile of melting hailstones constitutes an endangered wetland that necessitates…”)

Weather patterns do not observe national borders; rain artificially induced for the benefit of Country X can leave dried-up husks of clouds drifting over parched Country Y. So the United Nations will doubtless want a role in mediating disputes. Unfortunately, given the reputation of U.N. bureaucrats, a member nation’s plaintive cry of “Make it rain” will leave the bureaucrats anxiously looking around for strippers.

Whatever happens, I hope there is always a human element in modifying the weather. Artificial intelligence can accomplish some awesome things, but I worry about the inevitable glitches.

(“Oh, you wanted a nimbostratus cloud! Nimbostratus cloud, mushroom cloud – I always get those two confused. Anyway, gray skies are gonna clear up, put on a happy fa–hey, where did your face go???”)

Copyright 2024 Danny Tyree, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”