Future Clouds

Diatoms, Speculation and Weather Modification


  • Benjamin Kidder Hodges University of Macau




This article uses diatoms and the role they play in cloud formation as a prompt to consider histories of weather modification in practice, science fiction and possible future applications to address climate change. Diatoms are a form of microalgae that are present in all waterways and contribute significantly to atmospheric oxygen. They also provide condensation nuclei around which water droplets form, effectively creating clouds. Such naturally occurring particulate matter interacts with intentional and unintentional anthropogenic influence on the atmosphere. The long history of folk speculation and scientific experimentation about effective ways of seeding clouds for rain can help us consider the potential impacts of new forms of atmospheric intervention. From the use of algae as a tool for bioremediation to marine cloud brightening techniques, a multiscalar ecological awareness needs to be publicly fostered in making choices about how to influence climate futures.

Author Biography

Benjamin Kidder Hodges, University of Macau

Benjamin Kidder Hodges is an artist and anthropologist originally from Richmond, Virginia whose research based art and writing draw on folklore, mythology and media archaeology to call attention to overlooked histories. This involves building links between material culture and lived affects from bore-dom to shock. He is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Macau where he teaches filmmaking, media studies, and cultural studies within the Department of Communication.