“Chemtrails” are definitively not real, atmospheric science experts confirm

Contrail
Mick West/Carnegie Science

Original press release was issued by The Carnegie Institution for Science.

It’s one of the more definitive kinds of proof. When 76 leading atmospheric scientists agree that there is no evidence of chemtrails in our skies, you can start feeling very safe in your conviction against this particular conspiracy theory. But if you ever had doubts, we can now resoundingly say “no there is no secret large-scale chemical spraying of population going on”.

But let’s take a step back and look at what exactly chemtrails are – allegedly, in case you haven’t heard of them.

Chemtrails are a part of a fairly popular conspiracy theory according to which governments and/or powerful private organizations use aircraft to spray us with chemicals, spreading spreading viruses, allergies, but also controlling the weather. Effects can differ greatly depending on which camp you are a part of. These chemicals are supposedly mixed into jet fuel, and result into a slowly expanding condensation trail left behind an airplane. In a recent international study, 17% of people said that the existence of chemtrails is true or partly true, which more than warrants repeating of facts.

“We wanted to establish a scientific record on the topic of secret atmospheric spraying programs for the benefit of those in the public who haven’t made up their minds,” said Steven Davis of UC Irvine.  “The experts we surveyed resoundingly rejected contrail photographs and test results as evidence of a large-scale atmospheric conspiracy.”

It’s one of those issues that will never leave the mindshare of certain groups or individuals no matter how definitively you disprove them. Which is all the more frustrating when well-understood physical and chemical processes can explain how condensation trails come to be.

In the spirit of never giving up, Carnegie Science, University of California Irvine, and the nonprofit organization Near Zero, have conducted a survey of the world’s leading atmospheric scientists, who categorically rejected the existence of a secret spraying program. The team’s findings, published by Environmental Research Letters, are based on a survey of two groups of experts: atmospheric chemists who specialize in condensation trails and geochemists working on atmospheric deposition of dust and pollution.

The survey results show that 76 of the 77 participating scientists said they had not encountered evidence of a secret spraying program, and agree that the alleged evidence cited by the individuals who believe that atmospheric spraying is occurring could be explained through other factors, such as typical airplane contrail formation and poor data sampling.

The research team says they do not hope to sway those already convinced that there is a secret spraying program—as these individuals usually only reject counter-evidence as further proof of their theories—but rather to establish a source of objective science that can inform public discourse.

“Despite the persistence of erroneous theories about atmospheric chemical spraying programs, until now there were no peer-reviewed academic studies showing that what some people think are ‘chemtrails’ are just ordinary contrails, which are becoming more abundant as air travel expands. Also, it is possible that climate change is causing contrails to persist for longer periods than they used to.” Caldeira said. “I felt it was important to definitively show what real experts in contrails and aerosols think. We might not convince die-hard believers that their beloved secret spraying program is just a paranoid fantasy, but hopefully their friends will accept the facts.”

Michal Dudic

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