Conspiracy theories can be stubborn, particularly in the echo chamber of the internet.
One persistent belief in some quarters is that the government — or business, perhaps — is deploying a fleet of jet aircraft to spray chemicals into the sky to control the population, food supply or other things.
As evidence, they point to what they call “chemtrails,” which are more commonly known as contrails, or condensation trails, produced at high altitudes as water vapor in jet engine exhaust condenses and freezes.
Adding fuel to the chemtrails theory is the fact that there are a few legitimate reasons for atmospheric spraying — “seeding” clouds to make rain, for example — and in recent years there has been some research on the idea of spraying chemicals as a potential way to fight global warming.
But now, scientists have become more organized in their efforts to shoot down the idea, conducting a peer-reviewed study in Environmental Research Letters that debunks chemtrails supporters’ claims.
The goal, the researchers say, is not so much to change the minds of hard-core believers, but to provide a rebuttal — the kind that would show up in a Google search — to persuade other people to steer clear of this idea.
Steven J. Davis, a climate scientist at the University of California, Irvine, said he had the idea for the study after a conversation with a salesman at a mattress store.
When the man found out what he did for a living, Dr. Davis said, “he had very serious questions about what we were going to do about the chemtrails problem.”
Dr. Davis said that when he got home, he searched the internet for peer-reviewed studies on the conspiracy theory, but found none.
The theory has been popularized on websites that display photographs of contrails but are described instead as chemtrails that persist in the atmosphere and contain harmful chemicals like strontium, barium and aluminum.
August 11, 2015 – Amanda Baise (also known as Amanda Williams and/or Madistonstar Moon) attended an EPA hearing where she said something about “chemtrails” and some other nonsense that even the EPA panel wasn’t interested in hearing.
This update brought to you by Chemtrails Are Killing Us (CAKU):
By Marc V. via Listverse
Since there now seems to be a conspiracy theory for even the most mundane of topics, it’s not surprising that the medical profession is currently swimming in them. In a field rife with accusations of corporate profiteering, poorly understood diseases, and so-called deadly vaccines, conspiracy theorists have found themselves a fertile home.
10 • HIV Doesn’t Exist
Closely connected to the crazy theory that HIV is man-made is the belief that the virus that causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) does not exist at all. According to this theory, AIDS is really caused by a combination of sexual behavior, recreational drug use, poor sanitation, and a number of unrelated diseases. The denial movement was pioneered by molecular biologist Peter Duesberg, who became the one of the earliest and most vocal proponents of HIV’s non-existence. Even when comprehensive research proved otherwise, Duesberg merely modified his claims to posit that HIV was a “harmless passenger virus” and that other diseases caused AIDS.
While it would be easy to write off the theory as the ramblings of a lunatic fringe group, the damage they’ve done has been extensive. In South Africa, thousands of AIDS sufferers have lost their lives thanks to President Thabo Mbeki making AIDS denialism an official government policy. Incidentally, Peter Duesberg was one of Mbeki’s advisers.
9 • Fluoridation Is Suppressing Our Third Eye
Aside from the countless conspiracy theories linking water fluoridation to mind-control experiments, some conspiracy theorists have blamed the substance for damaging our pineal gland and leaving us unable to open our Third Eye. As a result, fluoridation has left us unable to reach the next stage of human evolution. The theory’s proponents believe that the pineal gland plays a much more important role than just producing melatonin (the hormone responsible for regulating sleep). According to them, having full control of our Third Eye would allow us to fully access our psychic and spiritual powers.
But who could be behind such a nefarious scheme to stop us from evolving? Apparently, it boils down to the list of the usual suspects including the New World Order, the Illuminati, world governments, and the religious establishment, all of whom supposedly want people to remain in the dark about their true potential.
8 • The Obesity Epidemic Is A Myth
Although we know that obesity is one of the fastest-growing health problems in the world, some have claimed that the whole epidemic is nothing more than a myth. Despite research revealing that obese people now officially outnumber the world’s malnourished and hungry, conspiracy theorists have derided talk of an epidemic as an obvious ruse to sell more weight-loss drugs.
Collaborating with public health agencies and the media, pharmaceutical companies have supposedly tricked people into believing that diet pills are the only way for them to lose weight. Apparently, they’ve also managed to dupe governments into advocating anti-obesity and “fat shaming” so that people will be conditioned into buying their products. Interestingly, some of the most active voices fighting against anti-obesity measures include advocacy groups funded by the food industry.
7 • Chemtrails Are Behind Morgellons Disease
Some of the most popular conspiracy theories out there concern “chemtrails,” condensation trails left by planes which supposedly contain chemical or biological agents. Depending on the theory, contrails are either used to control the population or alter the weather. They’ve also been blamed for causing the controversial dermatological condition known as Morgellons disease.
The current scientific consensus is that Morgellons does not actually exist and that those who claim to have it are either delusional or suffering from some other known condition. However, conspiracy theorists have insisted that contrails are the true culprits behind the spread of the condition. Mysterious fibers found on supposed sufferers have subsequently been identified as harmless cotton from their clothing, but that hasn’t dampened the conspiracy theory. In fact, believers now claim that contrails contain nanotechnology which burrows into the human body, thereby causing the condition.
Contrails are real – they’re not a government conspiracy to spray chemicals (big surprise, huh?!?). But, did you know there are two types of contrails? Aircraft can generate both aerodynamic contrails and exhaust contrails. Check them out.
Contrails are “condensation trails,” and they have nothing to do with chemicals. They occur when water condenses into a cloud – in either liquid or ice-crystal form. Contrails come in two varieties: aerodynamic and exhaust contrails.
Aerodynamic contrails occur when moist air cools due to lowered pressure, condensing humidity in the air and forming a contrail cloud.
What causes an aerodynamic contrail? It can come from any surface which lowers the air pressure – but it’s commonly caused by your propellor or wings. When an airfoil decreases air pressure, it also decreases the air’s temperature. If the humidity’s high, the drop in temperature and pressure can lower the air’s temperature past the dew point and form a contrail cloud.
The more your wings decrease pressure, the greater the temperature drop. So, an aircraft with high wing loading can generate large aerodynamic contrails. An F-15 pulling G’s and a 737 at a high angle of attack are great examples of this effect.
Aerodynamic contrails don’t last long. As soon as the aerodynamically cooled air comes back up to ambient temperature, the contrails dissipate. That’s why aerodynamic contrails are so short lived.
Exhaust contrails are more common, and they’re usually seen behind aircraft cruising in the flight levels. They form when hot, moist air exiting an engine mixes with extremely cold air – condensing the exhaust’s moisture.
How cold does the air need to be?
There are several conspiracy theories that involve aviation. The most famous of these involve the aliens of Roswell and the tragic events of September 11th. However, there is one conspiracy theory that has a measurable amount of believers that is easily refuted with the simple laws of science and statistics. This is, of course, chemtrails.
Those who subscribe to the Chemtrail theory believe that the entire aviation industry, military and civilian, are tasked by the U.S. government to spray artificial clouds high above the ground in our atmosphere with the intent of altering our climate or inoculating the population with inhalable drugs. This theory is based on the visible identification of the common aircraft contrail, and a reliance on the fallacy that it can be identified as something else.
So in a final sweeping motion, what do you say we explain-away this whole chemtrail thing after all, shall we?
The Science & History
When an organic material is burned, it will produce different compounds: soot, smoke, and various oxides. What is produced will vary depending on the material that was burned and the process in which it was burned. However there are two things that are generally universal in the burning of organics; water and carbon dioxide.
Generally, neither of these can be seen with the naked eye unless temperatures are cold and the steam condenses into visible water vapor. This is common from smoke stacks, the tailpipes of automobiles, or even your breath in the winter months.
The gasoline engine creates about one gallon of water for each gallon of gasoline consumed. When the engine is shut down, the remaining water oxidizes (or rusts) the exhaust and the engine’s cylinders. This limits the life of the exhaust system and the engine, but is not a major problem and is accepted as part of the normal process and life cycle of the internal combustion engine.
This water, seemingly innocuous, became lethal in the Second World War for the crews of the Boeing B-17 bomber. The four Wright turbocharged engines in the B-17 allowed it to climb above 30,000 feet. The humid exhaust of the engines quickly froze in the minus 40 degree air (temperatures become significantly colder at higher altitudes) leaving long white clouds behind the bombers indicating their presence and precise location to the German fighters. The safety of being at altitude was compromised by these telltale condensation trails, or contrails.
The military worked to find a solution and discovered that certain acidic compounds injected into the exhaust eliminated contrails. This solution became available after the conclusion of the war and was immediately obsolete with the advent of radar, which allowed airplanes to be “seen” regardless of the time of day or weather. This idea was later briefly resurrected with the Northrop B-2 stealth bomber, though ultimately not incorporated into the design.
The Commercial Jet Age
The post-war, high altitude commercial airliners typically operated around 25,000 feet. Only the low production Boeing 377, though still propeller-driven, could climb above 30,000 feet and was most commonly operated as an intercontinental airliner. Because of this, contrails were rarely seen in the United States prior to the 1960s.
The year 1958 was a watershed year in commercial aviation. Boeing introduced the 707 and Douglas the DC-8, while a year later Convair debuted the 880. The turbojet engines on these airliners thrived in the cold thin air found above 30,000 feet and they were routinely operated in these flight levels. In the 1960′s, contrails became commonplace across the United States, especially along designated jet airways between ground based navigation aids. When the temperature is low enough and the humidity high enough, the 1,500 gallons of water produced every hour by these jetliners was transformed into four cirrus clouds.
When the humidity is very high, the contrails will remain for hours. In moderate humidity the contrails may last . . .
In 2003, Barbra Streisand frantically tried to censor pictures of her home in Malibu after someone posted them online. In 2003, millions of people saw pictures of Barbra Streisand’s home in Malibu. In what became known as the Streisand effect, attempts to suppress information about something usually backfires and leads to even more publicity for the supposedly secret thing.
There is a strong argument in the weather community that we should ignore the growing number of people who sincerely believe that there is a worldwide governmental conspiracy to control the weather through, among other means, “chemtrails.” Bringing attention to their cause, one may argue, only helps to attract more attention and thereby more adherents to this particular brand of anti-science.
While that is probably true for a small number of people, ignoring the conspiracy theorists only makes them scream louder for attention through the Streisand Effect. The best way to remedy a situation isn’t to bottle it up and pretend that it isn’t happening, but rather to shine light on it and expose the silliness for what it really is.
If you’re not familiar with the chemtrail conspiracy theory, let me fill you in real quick. The thin, wispy clouds left behind by high-flying aircraft are known as contrails, short for condensation trails. These clouds are left behind as a result of the warm, moist exhaust of the plane’s engines meeting the extremely cold temperatures of the upper atmosphere. It’s a similar principle behind why you can see your breath on cold mornings.
Contrails appear and disappear based on the moisture content of the air through which the plane is passing. If the upper atmospheric air is moist, the plane will leave a contrail that could last hours and spread out into a deck of cirrus. If the air is extremely dry, it might not leave a contrail at all.
Since about the mid-1990s, there’s a subset of people who believe that these contrails are really chemtrails, or trails of vaporized chemicals being sprayed into the atmosphere by aircraft that are really flying around with with tanks full of chemicals rather than passengers. These alleged chemtrails are the work of any number of groups: governments, companies, Jews, you name it. The ultimate goal differs depending on whom you ask, but the two biggest strains of thought are that the chemtrails exist to control the weather or make the populace sick.
For most people with a basic level of science education, the idea is absurd, but the conspiracy theorists truly believe that these chemicals are being sprayed to control the weather, make the population sick, or partake in other “geoengineering” activities.
Back to the theorists themselves. Take last week’s post on chemtrails, for example. It attracted a good bit of attention in the conspiracy circles, and quite a bit of ire directed towards me. Most of it is innocuous, with the typical name calling and impassioned cries of “you’re a shill and you’re wrong, we have the real truth!”
Underneath the vitriol, you can sense that there’s something…wrong, for lack of a better way to put it. For the most part these are not the rantings of people who have mental health issues or who are angry or have an agenda, but rather they are scared. They truly, deeply believe that there are people spraying us from above, and they are scared.
When you’re scared, you only accept what you want to hear from people. When the nurse tells you that the needle won’t hurt, you smile because that’s what you want to hear even though you know it’s going to hurt anyway. The conspiracy theorists don’t want to hear that their fears are irrational. They want a noble soothsayer to tell them that they’re not buying into a bunch of manure and that somehow, someway, it’s going to be all right because they have the truth.
For many years, conspiracy theorists have claimed that the government conducts top-secret chemical testing in the skies above us. As evidence, they point to “chemtrails” — actually ordinary airplane contrails, or condensation trails — that, it’s claimed, have some sinister purpose.
In his conspiracy book “Above Top Secret,” Jim Marrs notes that “No one in a position of authority will admit that they exist, much less who is responsible, and what purpose they may serve. Unlike many mysteries, this one is visible to anyone who cares to look up on the days that large jets weave narrow and continuous vapor/chemical trails through the sky.”
It’s odd that conspiracy theorists are so certain they exist but can’t even agree on what, exactly, they are or what they do. Some say it’s a sinister government mind-control experiment. Others say the trails are a form of weather control. Still others insist that experimental drugs are being tested on unsuspecting urban populations.
Hard evidence of the existence of these chemtrails has been elusive, but earlier this week a video surfaced that claims to provide proof. It shows a plane landing in a fog, with what are claimed to be jets of chemicals spewing from the wings.
According to the breathless description on one website:
“A pilot of a commercial airliner made a mistake that irrefutably PROVES the existence of ‘CHEMTRAILS’— by forgetting to turn them off before he landed! We have video of the plane landing while still spraying CHEMTRAILS as it hits the runway. This is the first empirical evidence to back-up claims made (by) people, smeared as ‘conspiracy-theorists,’ who claimed airlines are being used by government to spray aerosols into the air without the knowledge or consent of the people being sprayed. With proof like this, the public now has legal standing to file lawsuits, utilize subpoenas and force discovery of evidence.”
This is not the first time that someone has claimed to have found hard evidence of chemtrails. In “Above Top Secret,” Marrs offers this evidence:
“One Louisiana TV station in late 2007 took upon itself the task of testing water captured under a crosshatch of aerial trails. According to investigative reporter Jeff Ferrell, ‘KSLA News 12 had the sample tested at a lab. The results: high level of barium, 6.8 parts per million, (ppm). That’s more than three times the toxic level set by the Environmental Protection Agency.’”
However, David E. Thomas, a physicist writing in Skeptical Inquirer science magazine, took a closer look at the KSLA report. Thomas notes:
“The actual video clearly shows 68.8 ug/L (micrograms per liter), or 68.8 ppb (parts per billion)…. 68.8 millionths of a gram per liter corresponds to 68.8 parts per billion, (and) the reporter was off by a factor of 100 because he read the ’68.8′ as ’6.8.’ Ferrell overestimated the amount of barium in the test report by a factor of 100…. The test result was not ‘three times the toxic level set by the EPA’; it was around 30 times less than the EPA’s toxic limit.”
So the alarming levels of barium that conspiracy theorist Jim Marrs cited as evidence of chemtrails was in fact a mistake created by a TV reporter’s poor math skills.
What about the new video showing explosive proof of chemtrails?