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High flying white jet leaving an expanding contrail
The chemtrail conspiracy theory holds that some contrails are actually chemicals or biological agents deliberately sprayed at high altitudes for a purpose undisclosed to the general public. Versions of the chemtrail conspiracy theory circulating on the internet and radio talk shows theorize that the activity is directed by government officials. As a result, federal agencies have received thousands of complaints from people who have demanded an explanation. The existence of chemtrails has been repeatedly denied by government agencies and scientists around the world.

The United States Air Force has stated that the theory is a hoax which "has been investigated and refuted by many established and accredited universities, scientific organizations, and major media publications". The British Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairsmarker has stated that chemtrails "are not scientifically recognised phenomena". The Canadian Government House Leader has stated that "The term 'chemtrails' is a popularized expression, and there is no scientific evidence to support their existence."

The term chemtrail is derived from "chemical trail" in the similar fashion that contrail is an abbreviation for condensation trail. It does not refer to common forms of aerial spraying such as crop dusting, cloud seeding or aerial firefighting. The term specifically refers to aerial trails allegedly caused by the systematic high-altitude release of chemical substances not found in ordinary contrails, resulting in the appearance of supposedly uncharacteristic sky tracks. Believers of this theory speculate that the purpose of the chemical release may be for global dimming, population control, weather control, or biowarfare and claim that these trails are causing respiratory illnesses and other health problems.


Contrails over a field
The chemtrail conspiracy theory began to circulate in 1996 when the United States Air Force (USAF) was accused of "spraying the US population with mysterious substances" from aircraft "generating unusual contrail patterns". The Air Force says these accusations were a hoax fueled in part by citations to a strategy paper drafted within the Air Force's Air University entitled Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather in 2025. The paper was presented in response to a military directive to outline a future strategic weather modification system for the purpose of maintaining the United States' military dominance in the year 2025, and identified as "fictional representations of future situations/scenarios". The Air Force further clarified the paper "does not reflect current military policy, practice, or capability", and that it is "not conducting any weather modification experiments or programs and has no plans to do so in the future." Additionally, the Air Force states that the "'Chemtrail' hoax has been investigated and refuted by many established and accredited universities, scientific organizations, and major media publications."

Multiple persistent contrails
In Britain, when the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was asked "what research her Department has undertaken into the polluting effects of chemtrails for aircraft", the response was that "the Department is not researching into chemtrails from aircraft as they are not scientifically recognised phenomena", but that work was being conducted to understand how contrails may affect weather now and to anticipate future impacts that could result from increases in air traffic.

In a response to a petition by concerned Canadian citizens regarding "chemicals used in aerial sprayings are adversely affecting the health of Canadians," the Government House Leader responded by stating that "There is no substantiated evidence, scientific or otherwise, to support the allegation that there is high altitude spraying conducted in Canadian airspace. The term 'chemtrails' is a popularized expression, and there is no scientific evidence to support their existence." The house leader goes on to say that "it is our belief that the petitioners are seeing regular airplane condensation trails, or contrails."

X-Pattern Contrail
Various versions of the chemtrail conspiracy theory have circulated through internet websites and radio programs. In some of the accounts, the chemicals are described as barium and aluminum salts, polymer fibers, thorium, or silicon carbide. In other accounts it is alleged the skies are being seeded with electrical conductive materials as part of a massive electromagnetic superweapons program based around the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Programmarker (HAARP). Those who believe in the conspiracy say the chemtrails are toxic, but the reasons given by those who believe in the conspiracy vary widely, spanning from military weapons testing, chemical population control, to global warming mitigation measures. Scientists and federal agencies have consistently denied that chemtrails exist, insisting the sky tracks are simply persistent contrails. As the chemtrail conspiracy theory spread, federal officials were flooded with angry calls and letters. A multi-agency response to dispel the rumors was published in a 2000 fact sheet by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administrationmarker (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a step many chemtrail believers have interpreted as further evidence of the existence of a government cover-up.

Proponents of the chemtrail theory say that chemtrails can be distinguished from contrails by their long duration, asserting that the chemtrails are those skytracks that persist for as much as a half day or transform into cirrus-like clouds. However, some contrails are visible for several hours according to Contrails facts, a USAF publication. Air Force officials say that long lasting contrails result from certain atmospheric conditions, and their duration and rate of dissipation can be accurately predicted when humidity level and temperature are known.

Contrails vs chemtrails

Condensation trails ("contrails") from propeller-driven aircraft engine exhaust, early 1940s
According to a United States Air Force contrail fact sheet, contrails, or condensation trails, are "streaks of condensed water vapor created in the air by an airplane or rocket at high altitudes." These condensation trails are the result of normal emissions of water vapor from piston engines and jet engines at high altitudes in which the water vapor condenses into a visible cloud. Contrails are formed when hot humid air from the engines mixes with thesurrounding air in the atmosphere which is drier and colder (the mixing is a result of turbulencegenerated by the jet engine exhaust). The rate at which contrails dissipate is entirely dependent upon weather conditions and altitude. If the atmosphere is near saturation, the contrail may exist for some time. Conversely, if the atmosphere is dry, the contrail will dissipate quickly.

Exhaust gases and emissions
Chemtrails, coming from "chemical trails" in the same fashion that contrail comes from "condensation trail" is a term coined to suggest that contrails are formed by something otherthan a natural process of engine exhaust hitting the cold air in the atmosphere. Chemtrail conspiricists characterize these chemical trails as streams that persist for hours, and by their criss-crossing, grid-like patterns, or parallel stripes which eventually blend to form large clouds. Proponents view the presence of visible color spectra in the streams, unusual concentrations of sky tracks in a single area, or lingering tracks left by unmarked or military airplanes flying in atypical altitudes or locations as markers of chemtrails.

Two planes at the same altitude, where only one leaves contrails.
Government agencies and experts on atmospheric phenomena deny the existence of chemtrails, insisting that the characteristics attributed to them are simply features of contrails responding differently in diverse conditions in terms of the sunlight, temperature, horizontal and vertical wind shear, and humidity levels present at the aircraft's altitude. These experts explain that what appears as patterns such as grids formed by contrails result from increased air traffic traveling through the gridlike United States National Airspace System's north-south and east-west oriented flight lanes, and that it is difficult for observers to judge the differences in altitudes between these contrails from the ground. The jointly published fact sheet produced by NASA, the EPA, the FAA, and NOAA in 2000 in response to alarms over chemtrails details the science of contrail formation, and outlines both the known and potential impacts contrails have on temperature and climate. The USAF produced a fact sheet as well that described these contrail phenomena as observed and analyzed since at least 1953. It also rebutted chemtrail theories more directly by characterizing the theories as a hoax and denying the existence of chemtrails.

Wingtip condensation trails
Patrick Minnis, an atmospheric scientist with NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, is quoted in USA Today as saying that logic is not exactly a real selling point for most chemtrail proponents: "If you try to pin these people down and refute things, it's, 'Well, you're just part of the conspiracy'," he said.

In 2001, United States Congressman Dennis Kucinich introduced legislation that would have permanently prohibited the basing of weapons in space, and he listed chemtrails as one of a number of exotic weapons that would be banned. Proponents have asserted that because explicit reference to chemtrails was entered by Congressman Kucinich into the congressional record, this constitutes official government acknowledgement of their existence. But that bill received an unfavorable evaluation from the United States Department of Defensemarker and died in committee, with no mention of chemtrails appearing in the text of any of the three subsequent failed attempts by Kucinich to enact a Space Preservation Act.

Chemtrail references in popular culture

On April 27, 2009, musical recording artist Prince referenced chemtrails in an interview with PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley. In the interview, Prince discusses a comment by comedian and activist Dick Gregory that "really hit home" about what Prince calls "this phenomenon of chemtrails." Prince goes on to mention an increase in aircraft trails that coincided with an inexplicable increase in "fighting and arguing" in his neighborhood.

On March 3, 2009, Australian television aired a film entitled Toxic Skies, directed by Andrew Erin and starring Anne Heche, in which Heche plays a medical doctor who investigates a series of mysterious illnesses. In the context of the film, Heche's character attributes the illness to "chemtrails" -- toxic chemicals introduced into aircraft fuel and dispersed over the population via jet exhaust.

American musician Beck released a song entitled Chemtrails on his 2008 album, Modern Guilt.

The video clip to the 2008 Metallica song All Nightmare Long suggests that the chemtrails are a soviet government action to control the mysterious alien spores.

See also


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Further reading

  • Thomas, William, "Stolen Skies: The Chemtrail Mystery", Earth Island Journal, July 1, 2002
  • Smith, Jerry E, "Weather Warfare: The Military's Plan To Draft Mother Nature", Adventures Unlimited Press, December 30, 2006
  • Johnson, M. Kim. 1999. Chemtrails analysis. NMSR Reports, 5(12), December.
  • Marrs, Jim. 2008. Above Top Secret. New York, NY: The Disinformation Company.

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