The experiment, though thought to be harmless was definitely unethical. Unfortunately it is typical of the behaviour of governments in the developed world for about the past 150 years. Politicians are power addicts and simply don’t care about consequences, so long as they are not among the people the consequences affect. Scientists are weirdos, geeky to the point of obession, and tend to focus on the brilliance of their theory in the absolute certainty that nothing can go wrong. Well they did an equation and that proved nothing can go wrong, because everyone knows statistics never lie, don’t we folks.
It’s the unforeseen consequence that they trip over, like the person who died in SF back in 1950, like the 34 people who died in a flash flood that hit the small British town of Lynmouth, Devonshire in 1952, which a conspiracy theory at the time tried to claim was due to Defence Ministry scientists carrying out cloud seeding experiments, in a bid to weaponise rain. The government of the day strenuously denied this of course, and scientists who had been working on a project to cause torrential rain as a way of impeding a Soviet invasion assured everyone that their work could not possibly have caused such a disaster.
50 years later, when classified documents were released by law, it emerged the military had been experimenting with cloud seeding for the reasons suspected, and they had been assured by the scientists working on the project that nothing could go wrong. It’s always the problem they didn’t forsee that spoils things for then. In the words of the late, great, Ian Dury, “This is what we find, the hope that spings eternal springs right up your behind.
Lynmouth floods — New Scientist (the linked article was published before official papers proving the military involvement were released)