May 30, 2003

Playing Zeus  

Talk about authoritarian:

On orders from President Vladimir Putin, 10 planes equipped with chemical charges will try to keep Russia's second city dry as tourists and world leaders attend the jubilee celebration.

"Our aim is to empty all clouds of rain before they hit the city borders," Vladimir Stepanenko of St. Petersburg's Geophysics Observatory told The Times of London. Since the Soviet era, Russians have sought to control the weather, developing techniques to halt or induce rain as well as stop hail from damaging crops.

The friend who put me onto this story found it quite amusing, and at first blush it does seem a little over the top. But from a public goods standpoint, this is a perfectly reasonable policy decision to be making. I'm surprised it doesn't happen more often, actually.


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