Reader’s Request from Andrew Dean: Chemtrails

Science Denier Hall of Shame's photo.

Request from Andrew Dean: “Chemtrails, please for the love of Cthulhu debunk chemtrails and silence the chemtards.”
Thanks, Andrew. This is actually a great example of a conspiracy theory with absolutely no scientific backing whatsoever.

Synopsis: Here is a quote from an article by Michael Allen over at Vice ( ) that describes the ‘theory’:
“The chemtrails conspiracy theory has been circulating for a while among the same sorts of people who believe that 9/11 was an inside job and celebrities are being controlled by the CIA. In brief, chemtrail enthusiasts think that those white trails of vapor you see pouring out of planes are actually nasty chemical or biological agents that governments are using to geo-engineer the weather, create a vast electromagnetic super-weapon, control the population, or—well, you get the idea. There’s no science or proof whatsoever behind this, but plenty of people are still willing to entertain this vaguely supervillain-esque notion.”

Analysis: I’ll start with a layman-level rebuttal. A common reason given as to why these cannot possibly be just vapor trails is ‘They don’t dissipate! They MUST be some evil chemical!’
If that’s the case, the shadow-forces aren’t doing a very good job of getting these ‘chemicals’ into the atmosphere. How are they going to have any effect on anything if they just stay all clumped together?
What are they? Aircraft fuel is composed of hydrocarbons, which produce carbon dioxide and water vapor. Contrails are formed when these hot exhaust gases mix with cold air. Just like cloud formation, the water freezes, forming microscopic ice crystals which is really just an elongated cloud.
Science Denier Hall of Shame's photo.Need evidence that it’s really just engine exhaust? Look at the pictures. It would appear that a two engine plane produces two contrails, and a four engine plane produces four.Science Denier Hall of Shame's photo.

So, are there ANY ‘real’ chemtrails? Well, oddly enough, yes, of a sort, but most of them are very boring ones that you probably already know about.
• Cloud Seeding: This is a method of dropping either silver iodide or dry ice in order to attempt to cause rain in an area that may need it. Nothing nefarious here.
• Crop Dusting: Got any bugs in your corn? No? This example of ‘chemtrails’ may have helped you.
• Sky Writing: Oil smoke generated in a small plane used primarily for entertainment or advertising. Again, hard to find anything evil going on with this one.
• Tracers: These are gasses released in the upper atmosphere that are used to map the movements of our upper atmosphere. Vapors released most commonly include tri-methyl aluminum, lithium and barium. Although these substances may sound scary, keep in mind that the amounts released are small. Further, even releasing large amounts of these materials at high altitude would have about as much effect on our biosphere as spilling your drink.

Thanks to Andrew Dean for requesting this one!
And thanks for reading!
– Jeff