The Chemtrail Conspiracy: What Are the Claims?

In the right weather conditions, long lines of thin cloud can be seen behind aircraft in the sky, sometimes long after an aircraft has disappeared from view.

These clouds are contrails and the result of water vapor emitted by planes condensing in freezing temperatures, leaving “thin trails of ice crystals,” the Met Office explained.

But “since the US Air Force published a paper on the hypothetical harnessing of weather for military purposes in 1996,” a “shadowy global aviation conspiracy” has spread among online communities, according to National Geographic.

beliefs of theorists

The chemtrail conspiracy theory took root in the 1990s, but in recent years “a significant number of people” have taken to social media to share “speculation, questions and images of crosshatched contrail skies,” the BBC said.

“Believers” say the “puffy plumes of water vapor” emanating from planes are “evidence of a secret conspiracy to control the weather or pollute the environment” by spraying chemicals into the atmosphere, the station continued.

A common claim is that emissions from a standard airplane “should disappear quickly, so any clouds that don’t disappear immediately must be full of additional, undisclosed substances,” Scientific American said.

Depending on the theorists’ individual beliefs, it is claimed that “a pick-and-mix selection of the UN, the military, national governments, the Rothschilds, climate scientists, pilots and big business” are responsible for chemtrails, the BBC said.

The reasons why a large organization might be behind these types of activities include a range of “nefarious purposes, from changing the weather to controlling human populations through sterilization to mind control,” Scientific American added.

A 2011 poll conducted in the US, Canada and the UK found that an “incredible” 16.6% of respondents agreed with this theory, according to National Geographic. A 2017 paper published in Nature found that the percentage in the US general population could be as high as 40%.

scientific answer

Scientists have claimed that there is no evidence that chemical substances are atmospherically diffused via airplanes to alter weather patterns or to poison or control people.

A common claim by believers is that chemtrails can be distinguished from normal contrails “because they stay in the sky longer than before the mid-1990s and dissipate into cirrus clouds,” National Geographic said.

However, the Met Office explains that once ice crystals have formed, “what happens next depends on how dry or how humid the air is”.

In dry air, ice crystals turn from solid to gaseous “and become invisible,” says the Weather Service. But in humid conditions, “the emitted water vapor stays where it is, often spreading out and leaving a fluffy trail where the plane passed.”

Traces of ice crystals “can last for many hours and leave lines in the sky.”

The proof

A 2016 paper published by Environmental Research Letters summarized 77 experts’ conclusions on evidence for a “secret large-scale atmospheric program” (SLAP). The authors noted that some of the public confusion or uncertainty surrounding the chemtrail claims may be due to the scientific community’s failure to consistently address these concerns for a number of years.

All but one of the scientists who participated in the study said they found no evidence of a chemtrail conspiracy. The only anomaly was a scientist who recorded unusually high levels of barium in the atmosphere in a remote area where soil soil contained low levels of the chemical element.

But “to go from that one finding to the idea that we’re being covertly sprayed with chemicals takes a huge leap of faith,” the BBC said.

The scientists concluded that data used as evidence by chemtrail theorists “could be explained by other factors, such as the typical contrail formation and poor data sampling instructions presented on SLAP websites.”

The authors noted that public concerns about health, climate change and pollution are “reasonable,” but the focus on a large-scale spraying program “could divert attention from real, underlying issues that need to be addressed.”

go mainstream

National Geographic describes the chemtrail theory as “a lot of cod,” but it still seems to have “gone mainstream.” The 2016 study “did little to convince die-hard believers,” the magazine said, and believers “rejected” evidence that the theory was untrue, claiming it was “part of a massive cover-up.”

The BBC has attributed the spread of the chemtrail conspiracy theory to its resonance in certain digital communities. “Closed groups of like-minded people — common on social media and the internet — are one of the main reasons conspiracy theories are entrenched online,” the broadcaster said.

“The conspiracy theorists are undeterred.” The Chemtrail Conspiracy: What Are the Claims?

Fry Electronics Team

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