Statement—Rain making proposal unscientific

On 26 November 2007, the Australian Academy of Science made the following statement on the National Water Commission's proposed rain making trial.

The Academy is deeply concerned regarding the National Water Commission’s $10 million trial of the weather modification technology of Australian Rain Corporation. The lack of a recognised scientific basis to that technology means that the proposed trial is inherently without scientific merit.

Guidelines for the conduct of weather modification research and operations have been set out by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). A key aspect of those guidelines is that any technology must be based on known scientific principles and that the applicability of those principles is part of the assessment of the technology. This is necessary because of the chaotic nature of weather, which means that statistical testing of the results alone cannot assure the effectiveness of such technology.

The chaotic nature of weather means very long trials are needed to determine the effectiveness of any such technology. Trials are held over many years, with the methods for these trials set out by the WMO. The procedures and standards recommended by WMO have not been met in the project announced by the outgoing government.

Technologies like the system of Australian Rain Corporation have been touted to most government agencies in Australia over the last decade or two. Up till now all agencies have recognised the lack of a scientific basis for undertaking proposed assessments, because a valid assessment cannot be made of an unknown.

Agencies are aware that their scientific integrity is compromised by undertaking such unscientific activities. Similar proposals have been made to agencies in other parts of the world, particularly within the USA, and we understand most have declined to participate.

Any future support for such projects must be based on authoritative advice in order to maintain the reputation of Australian science.

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