Hugo Chavez, Rainmaker?

SuperFreakonomics briefly considers the possibility of a rogue leader like Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez deciding to unilaterally try geoengineering the planet. Who’d have thought Chavez would actually try some geoengineering with his own hands? According to this Reuters report, Chavez recently asked a team of Cuban scientists to seed clouds over his drought-stricken country. (Perhaps he was inspired by Beijing’s artificially enhanced snowstorms.) And Chavez has announced his intent to personally join the scientists: “I’m going in a plane,” he said. “Any cloud that crosses me, I’ll zap it so that it rains.” [%comments]


“Any cloud that crosses me, I'll zap it so that it rains.”
So cloud hunting is the new sport of kings?

Phil Chamberlain

Why is Chavez a 'rogue' leader? What part of the definition of rogue do you think applies to Chavez - and why? Do you think that definition could also be applied to some American presidents; but would you ever consider calling them 'rogue'?


Well, if Venezuela and China does it, it can only be a good thing! :)


«Rainmaking» has been done lots of times at least in Israel and Portugal... the process is not science-fiction and the results are considerably good. (a few milimeters of rain are better than no rain at all for months at a time...)

Andre D.

Here in Alberta it's used to mitigate the damage done by hailstorms as opposed to rain creation.


Hugo Chavez.. Classic example of terrible economics that Hugo Chavez would do. Altering the environment for the benefit of his country may cause terrible consequences for other areas nearby, such as flooding our droughts in neighboring countries, which in turn would alter their own economy as well. Altering the environment is never a wise decision, given how it exists in such a balance of cycles that forcing clouds to rain may alter the whole system in the area. Hugo Chavez should work on other alternatives to improve their domestic economy such as removing price floors or ceilings, or better, listen to his team of economic advisers.




Speaking at the Turtle Bay Cesspool:
"And the Devil (Bush) came here yesterday. Yesterday the Devil came here. Right here. [crosses himself] And it smells of sulphur still today."

About his ally in Zim:
"I give you a replica of liberator Simon Bolivar's sword. For you who, like Bolivar, took up arms to liberate your people. For you who, like Bolivar, are and will always be a true freedom fighter. [Mugabe] continues, alongside his people, to confront the pretensions of new imperialists."

Speaking about the failed death-cult of authoritarian socialism:
“Those who want to go directly to hell can follow capitalism... and those of us who want to build heaven here on earth will follow socialism.”

I think those things said by Chavez were likely why "Freakonomics" is willing to go out on a wire and use rogue as an adjective to describe his behaviour as deviating from the generally accepted standard of qualified thought and statesmanship. It's not like they were calling him a playful vagabond, or scamp...

After all, Sarah Palin calls herself rogue and she just parrots the hard right.


louie one eye

Chavez has escaped death on more than one occasion. As leader he would likely feel a sense of a sword-in-the-stone destiny.

The man has a sense of humor too. Oh my, that's quite dangerous.

Demonize as you will, Chavez continues to try to help the common man in very difficult times.

The real top gun, however, is subcommandante marcos.

bruno diaz

No need to worry about the consequences outside Venezuela of Chavez plan to make rain. It is just talk, talk and more talk.
10+ years of zero infrastructure development under Chavez rule have left Venezuela with water, energy and food shoratges. What Venezuela can export now is oil (less than it used too as it has to be taken out of the ground), crime and a lot of non-sense talk.

louie one eye

If the choice was bushie or chavez .........

viva las vegas


vivA CHavez y viva la revolucion

Wonks Anonymous

Maybe Chavez is a great economist after all?


trying to influence the weather like china and allegedly venezuela are doing is light years from being considering geoengineering. The geoengineering idea involves engineering/controlling climate at a global scale (atmosphere, oceans, etc) not just "making rain"


Hugo Chavez is been a rational person because he is thinking for his best interest. Because his country rarely rains he is trying to make rains in his country by using chemicals to "seed clouds" to cause rain in the country. Altering the environment is bad because by changing we change the nature pattern which may be bad for other countries. However we know that Hugo Chavez doesn't care about countries next to him he cares more about his own.Hugo Chavez is smart because he is trying to improve his domestic economy by changing the environment. By investing some money into this new technology Hugo Chavez ends up winning more because hiss domestic economy will improve by a lot. He is investing little but he gains a lot more. Not only those improves his domestic economy but he opens a new market for his country by not depending on more than one economic resources.


Chavez always manages to amaze me with his sensationalistic solutions to everything. He is one of the people who love to talk about very advanced (and very expensive) solutions to problems which can be solved in a cheaper and more realistic method such as droughts. On top of this, Venezuela is a country facing various economic issues, many of them caused by the economic policies of Chavez, which derive from his apparent economic irrationality. When Chavez is supposed to focus on helping his nation's economy by getting some prudent advisers or at least making an effort to understand how basic economics work, he is off giving the people "treats and consolation," resulting in a shortage of basic items such as eggs, milk and water. In a country where not even milk or water are readily available, it is pretty bold to claim that the nation should start going in a complicated "cloud harvesting" process instead of aiding the country in a rational manner.



when in doubt, ask yourself WWHCD (what would hugo chavez do) and do the opossite


Hugo Chavez's idea of making it rain a lot is not bad. It helps the country's economy in that no longer do they have to import food for the country. This will let the government use the money more efficiently in making roads or using it for education. Also, the farmers now are able to work, which increase the number of jobs which is good for the economy. However, I believe that this idea may have some flaw. If it rains too much, it can lead to a flood, which would not only make the experiment worthless and some money and time would go to waste. Another bad thing that might happen, even if there was no flood, if the production goes too well, it will be bad for the farmers. The price of the food they produce might make the farmers go into debt because they earn less than what the cost of production is.


"Demonize as you will, Chavez continues to try to help the common man in very difficult times"

That's the trouble - Chavez claims to want to help the common man (and I believe his claims are sincere), but advocates collectivist ideas that have consistently proven disastrous for rich and poor alike. Leftists need to get over their apoplexy that some people are richer than others and realize destroying your country's economy is not going to improve the lot of the poor.


Hugo Chavez's cloud seeding program is probably harmless. If you want to see countries causing real environmental havoc for its neighbors, take a look at China and Turkey. They are damming rivers in their territory and causing droughts downstream in Syria, Iraq (Turkey) and India (China).


Hugo Chavez, as seen in previous occasions, sometimes fails to make the correct economic decisions, or the correct political decision, or sometimes even the correct apparel decision. Lets face it, hes not a good decision maker, so hearing that he will make it rain somehow doesn't seem as surprising to me. Because Venezuela is experiencing a drought, trying to create rain, or telling people they can only take showers for three minutes, because he can in two, are not the smartest actions towards trying to fix this problem, yet its the type of things he would be expected to suggest. Since water is inelastic, its is possible to see why Chavez would chose to spend money and time on such a silly and pathetic methods to get water for his country. Venezuela is an oil-rich nation, with huge coastlines and lots of mountains with natural resources. If Chavez were to play his cards correctly, getting water would not be a problem. Also creating clouds, I'm sure, has a great environmental effect, such as altering cycles, like the nitrogen cycle which is vital to plants and animals. Now if Chavez were to research this a little he would quickly realize how altering environments, and defying mother nature, can lead to catastrophes, which I'm sure will lead to even more money being wasted on foolish projects. The best way to help an economy is by making the people happy. Whether it be removing floor and ceiling taxes, decreasing the amount of crime, or even simply trying to act more professional. These are some things Chavez should look into, instead of ridiculing him self, by trying to be Thor the God of Thunder, and trying to zap clouds.