WASHINGTON – You’ve seen the contrails behind those high-flying jets – sometimes making crisscrossing patterns in the sky – above your home, your town, your city.
And you’ve heard the rumors. The government is spraying toxic chemicals, gene-altering concoctions, testing weapons of war.
But the first peer-reviewed study published on these mysterious “chemtrails,” as they are often called, found they are not the result of governments covertly conducting experiments on the public.
They’re just plain old water vapor.
Rather than “chemtrails,” say the researchers, they are actually “contrails,” which is short for condensation that produces water vapor that freezes around aerosols in the aircraft exhaust.
“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 lead researcher Steven Davis from the University of California, Irvine. “The experts we surveyed resoundingly rejected contrail photographs and test results as evidence of a large-scale atmospheric conspiracy.”
To find out what was going on, the team interviewed 77 scientists who should know what they’re talking about – they were either atmospheric chemists who specialize in condensation trails, or geochemists working on atmospheric deposition of dust and pollution.
Out of the group, 76 of the 77 experts said they hadn’t come across evidence of secret, large-scale spraying programs.
The evidence that the 77th had come across was “high levels of atmospheric barium in a remote area with standard low soil barium.”
The researchers were shown four images commonly circulated as “chemtrails,” and 100 percent of them said they were just ordinary contrails – and they provided peer-reviewed citations to back up their claims.
The researchers also suggested that contrails are more common these days simply because air travel is becoming more regular.
“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,” said one of the researchers, Ken Caldeira from the Carnegie Institution for Science.
In other words, nothing to see up here.
Of course, there’s a climate change tie-in. There’s always a climate-change link.
“Also, it is possible that climate change is causing contrails to persist for longer periods than they used to,” said Caldeira.
The team admits that their research probably won’t sway the opinion of anyone who already believes in “chemtrails,” but they hope that by providing a peer-reviewed study on the subject, people new to the topic will find something objective when doing their research.
“I felt it was important to definitively show what real experts in contrails and aerosols think,” said Caldeira. “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.”
The research has been published in Environmental Research Letters.