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FACTCHECK

Debunked: 'Cloud factory' clip released on 1 April doesn't show that humans control the weather

One edited video was viewed on TikTok 1.6 million times

CLAIMS THAT HUMANS control the weather are increasingly common online, often accompanied by arguments claiming that CO2-driven climate change isn’t real, or that governments are responsible for natural disasters.

One video, featuring a clip in which a man claims to work at a “cloud factory”, edited together with commentary claiming that humans control the weather, has been viewed on TikTok more than 1.6 million times.

Other videos featuring the same clip and making similar claims have been widely shared across various social media platforms, including one Instagram post that has garnered more than 7,400 likes.

The original clip was posted on 1 April by a user that describes himself as a chemical engineer.

Commenters on the video appear divided. Some argue that he is telling them the truth about government-controlled weather, though others say it is an obvious April Fools’ joke.

The uploader has since posted more videos, often in a comedic style, though these do not mention the first post about a ‘cloud factory’ and instead talk about video games and consumer technology.

Regardless of the intention, the clip does not show a “cloud factory”. 

It opens with a man wearing a helmet, goggles, and overalls walking by large industrial chimneys emitting huge amounts of white gas.

“I don’t know if y’all know this. But I actually work in a cloud factory,” the man in the video says.

“We create clouds and make rain for the city of Chicago. The government doesn’t want you to know this, but we control the climate.”

But this is not what the video shows, and there is enough information in the “cloud factory” to determine the exact location where it was filmed: a food ingredient factory.

At one point the man films the skyline away from him, which is a perfect match for an area in a southwestern suburb of Chicago, as seen in a Google Maps 3D view:

By lining up the features seen in the clip, including the unusually shaped building, the car park, and the high-rise buildings in the distance, we can track this back to an approximate cantage point where it was filmed.

Imagery from Google Earth Pro shows the area where it must have been filmed from has three chimneys next to a walkway, in the same layout as the chimneys and walkway seen in the footage, confirming the location the video was filmed in. 

The footage was filmed in an industrial estate for Ingredion Inc, a company that manufactures food ingredients, such as sweeteners.

Regardless of whether the video was intended as an April Fools’ joke, it appears that the gas being emitted is just part of a normal industrial process.

However, in the unlikely scenario that the Ingredion compound is a cover for a secret cloud factory, its clouds don’t work very well.

Satellite image available through Google Earth Pro shows the same chimneys going back more than 20 years. They are often captured emitting strong streams of white gas.  However, these plumes can be seen to dissipate shortly after entering the air.

None of these dozens of images of the chimneys show the gas form clouds that float away. Instead, the gas dissipates long before it reaches the edge of the industrial estate.

Google Earth Google Earth

There have been legitimate attempts by humans to influence weather using technology, most notably “cloud-seeding”, which usually sees aircraft spray clouds with a chemical to encourage the formation of snow or rain.

However, this technique targets limited geographic areas (often ski resorts), and the results are often described as being somewhere between underwhelming and ineffective.

There is no proof that there are cloud factories which are being used to geo-engineer the weather.

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