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In primitive societies, rain makers usually have an inbuilt "get out" clause. The rain making ceremony consists of certain things done by rain maker, supported by other rituals, requirements, or prohibitions required of community rain maker is serving.
These may be bans on certain foods or practices, but if rain doesn't come, who is to say that someone in community failed to play their part, destroying rain maker's good efforts?
And eventually, with persistence, rain will come.
So, in a very general way, that's how rain maker works.
But let's see what he or she is up against.
Weather is local end result of effects of vast atmospheric circulation system, which works towards creating some sort of balance between unequal heating of earths surface, planet's rotation, transferring water from oceans to atmosphere and back again, variable distribution of warm and cold water currents in oceans, and much, much more.
All this takes a huge amount of energy. Let's put it in perspective. In 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped on Japanese city of Hiroshima, effectively destroying it. That bomb was equivalent of 12,500 tons of TNT, or 12.5 kilotons. An average thunderstorm generates equivalent of 20 kilotons.
A hurricane generates equivalent of a 10 megaton bomb - 10 million tons of TNT - every 20 minutes. Some people have asked why large bombs aren't used to divert or destroy hurricanes. Others have suggested that would be about as effective as throwing a ping-pong ball at a charging elephant.
To create rain out of nothing, a rain maker would need to control huge amounts of energy to overcome inertia of stable weather systems associated with droughts. With that sort of power, why hasn't rain maker taken over world, hopefully for good of all, or at very least made his fortune by affecting results of horse races?
Copyright 2005, Graham McClung. A retired geologist, Graham McClung has had a lifelong interest in the outdoors. And where there's outdoors there's weather. He is the editor of Home-Weather-Stations-Guide.com, where you can find reviews and advice to help you choose and use your own home weather station. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org