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Science
COSTING THE EARTH
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Thursday 21:00-21:30
Costing the Earth tells stories which touch all our lives, looking at man's effect on the environment and at how the environment reacts. It questions accepted truths, challenges the people in charge and reports on progress towards improving the world we live in.
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LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Listen to 18 August
PRESENTER
MIRIAM O'REILLY
Miriam O'Reilly
PROGRAMME DETAILS
Thursday 18 August 2006
Miriam with a rainmaking rocket
Miriam meets the rainmakers of Nanjing

The Rainmakers

All over China an army's on the march. With mortars, rocket launchers and bombers 3000 men of the Chinese Meteorological Service are fully equipped to battle the nation's staunchest foe- drought.

In 'Costing the Earth' Miriam O'Reilly and science writer, Fred Pearce travel from the South Downs to Nanjing in search of the secrets of the rainmakers.

The air contains vast reservoirs of water, most of which stubbornly refuses to fall into our rivers and lakes. For thousands of years the people of dry areas have developed ingenious moisture-catching devices: fog-catchers in the Atacama Desert, dew ponds in southern England and giant stone pyramids in the Crimea . All can provide small quantities of water for local needs but the spread of drought across the world is adding urgency to the search for a scientific solution that can turn the rain on and off like a tap.

The Chinese are certain they've found it- firing crystals of silver-iodide into rain-bearing clouds, but can they prove it works? Miriam O'Reilly fires the first cloud-seeding rocket of the season in 'Costing the Earth'.

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