Why People Think Chemtrails Are A Thing


Chemtrails. You know, the cloudy looking trails that airplanes leave behind? The ones that supposedly are being used to control not only the weather, but also us? Yeah…those are called CONTRAILS, or condensation trails, and they are lines of clouds made by airplane engine exhaust or changes in air pressure, primarily made of water in the form of ice crystals. The combination of water vapor in engine exhaust and the low temperatures at high altitudes allow for the formation of the trails. Hot engine + water vapor + freezing temperatures = frozen cloud lines. They can’t control the weather, and nothing is being sprayed on us.

This myth has been around since the mid-1990s, but despite decades of scientific evidence, people still think ‘chemtrails’ are a thing. To help them along, let’s deconstruct a few of the key myths regarding chemtrails with, you know, science.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Myth #1: NASA has been engaging in a secret program to dope us all with lithium

Websites like this one should teach us all not to trust every site we see with a .org at the end. This one spreads false information about things in nature in order to…well, who knows why, really. This site is one of about a bajillion that tackle this particular issue: that NASA has been using lithium chemtrails to mess with our minds.

This myth began when in April of 2016, the website AnonHQ reported that they had proof that NASA was spraying lithium gas into the atmosphere (which is true they have been spraying lithium and have openly talked about it since 1958…and it’s entirely harmless) and using aerosolized vaccines on us, referencing a 2003 study that discussed said vaccines. Unfortunately for their myth, this study ONLY referenced the development of aerosolized vaccines – the type you take via an inhaler – and didn’t make a single mention of dropping them on people from planes.

Propaganda used to spread the story that NASA acknowledged they were using lithium spray at high altitudes. They are, but it is entirely harmless.
Photo Credit: Light on Conspiracies

AnonHQ based a great deal of this theory on an interview given by NASA scientist Douglas Rowland, in which he talked about how the government did a rocket test with lithium to learn more about wind and weather in the upper atmosphere. In his very own interview he says that 1) lithium that high in the atmosphere would have zero impact on people or life on the surface and 2) they used lithium specifically because it is entirely harmless to the environment (though they eventually bailed on using it because it was difficult to detect). Of course, people hear ‘lithium’ and immediately link it to its use a drug to treat bipolar disorder and manic depression…ignoring the scientific explanation in the interview.

Photo Credit: UFO Insight

This practice was well documented and publicized both by NASA and outside research, and there is absolutely zero evidence that suggests some long-running plot to drug Americans with rockets.

Myth #2: The Government is Using Chemtrails to Control the Weather

If this is true, they are doing a really shitty job. The weather sucks, is super freaking aggressive, and IT. IS. SO. HOT. But among Chemtrailists, this is one of the more common myths. They believe it is a part of a global effort to conduct ‘Geo-engineering‘ –  the deliberate manipulation of an environmental process that affects the earth’s climate – in an attempt to counteract the effects of global warming.

Photo Credit: Discovery

Now, the study of weather modification is not new (the Soviet Union first began studying it in 1932) and it sort of works – the Chinese used technology called ‘cloud seeding’ to prevent rain during the opening ceremony of the Olympics in 2008. But that’s about as far as anyone has gotten. On a grand scale? This just isn’t happening. The field of ‘geo-engineering’ is fairly new, and while tons of scientists talk about it, there is little to nothing actually being done with it. For now, this field is trapped in the world of computer models and science fiction.

Then there’s the fact that nearly every airplane creates contrails: passenger, military, cargo, and all the rest. Except there’s just not enough room on these planes for chemicals it would take to make these hypothetical chemtrails. The weight of the passengers, cargo, luggage, etc. is all taken into consideration to determine how much fuel is needed, which impacts the balance of the aircraft in flight. If the plane is too heavy or the weight is distributed incorrectly, it could crash.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

These liquids are not light. For example, a gallon of jet fuel weighs almost 7 pounds. Take a fully-loaded 747 flying from London to China would require almost a full tank of fuel – roughly 50-60,000 gallons. That’s upwards of 370,000 pounds of fuel in the tanks. Take the weight of the fuel, add the passengers, cargo, and luggage, there’s just no room for “chemtrail” chemicals…even if they did want to give us a toxic shower. Which they don’t.

Myth #3: The Government uses chemtrails to control or poison us

This is a big one among Chemtrailists. There is a widespread belief that the government is either using chemicals to make us docile and compliant, or to poison us and control the population level. Neither case is rooted in any science. Many believers claim to have scientific proof, but in most every case they conduct their own experiments with no scientists/regulators/credible people present.

A group that was credible – and virtually unanimous in their assessment of the chemtrail conspiracy – was the 77 atmospheric scientists who conducted independent research to study “chemtrails” (actually contrails) and their impact. Their findings were published in the journal Environmental Research Lettersand they came to a virtually unanimous conclusion (there was 1 rogue in the bunch): chemtrails do not exist, and there is no government spraying program. They also analyzed countless samples of pond water, soil, etc. submitted by Chemtrailists for the study…and the increases in particular minerals and elements were a result of completely natural events/phenomena in their respective regions. These scientists also analyzed thousands of pictures of “chemtrails” submitted by believers, and they all concluded that they were normal contrails with no distortion.

A C-130 spraying for mosquitoes at Grand Forks AFB, ND. Chemtrail theorists use photos like this to support the idea that the government is secretly poisoning the populace with chemicals being sprayed from aircraft.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Picture of spiral condensation coming off a propellar plane. Definitely not chemical spray.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Since the mid-1990s, conspiracy theorists have been latching onto an Air Force report that they were working to develop technology that would allow them to control or influence the weather by 2025. There have also been patents submitted for technology that would seed the atmosphere with particles that could reflect sunlight and slow global warming. These, however, are simply ideas and have never been put to use. Nonetheless, despite extensive study of the chemical composition of contrails and their impact on the atmosphere AND the land…there are still believers. One ‘believer’ bases her entire conspiracy on the fact that she saw a video about a little girl being sad because the sky was filled with contrails, and she couldn’t see the blue anymore……

I’ll just leave that there. No science. Just…fluff.