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Chemtrails – Myth Or Malicious? Here Are The Facts

When I was a kid, I used to look up and wonder what that cloudy trail was that followed airplanes tracking high up in the sky. Well now I know as I hang out there regularly, but there is a conspiracy theory that’s been picking up some major speed lately that those contrails are really ‘chemtrails’: where the government is using airplanes to dump chemicals into our atmosphere for a variety of possible reasons.

 

Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

I fought with myself about getting involved with this debate as I know that when our minds are made up (or our beliefs for that matter), no amount of reason to the opposite can break through.  Not to mention that, but when we get an idea in our heads, any idea it isn’t hard to find ‘proof’ of it. For example, one day eggs are bad for you, the next they’re good and there is extensive corroboration for both sides, supposedly. So, after watching my Facebook feed blow up in argument for the last few days, I gotta cave and throw my hat into the chemtrail debate ring… For starters, here’s the most scientific definition of what contrails (or condensation trails) are that I could find:

When a jet engine is spewing out hot, humid air into an atmosphere that is cold and has low vapor pressure, the result is condensation. The water vapor coming out of the engine quickly condenses into water droplets and then crystallizes into ice. The ice crystals are the clouds that form behind the engine. This is why the streaks are called contrails, short for “condensation trails.” To help explain it, scientists liken it to seeing your breath on cold days. You may have noticed that puffs of breath dissipate quickly on dryer days. The same is true of contrails: When the atmosphere is more humid, the contrails linger, but when the atmosphere is dry, the contrails disappear more quickly.

 

Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Now as a pilot myself, I can personally vouch for the veracity of that definition and that should by itself squash any theories to the contrary, but if the above words are having trouble quieting the paranoid alarm bells that are still going off in your head think about these fiver facts that don’t require an engineering degree to understand:

#1 - Ever since airplanes have been able to reach high altitude, these trails have been in existence.

Check out some WW2 photos of bomb groups operating at that height and every single airplane including the fighters had a corresponding contrail to match each of it’s engines. (Pay special attention to when a bomber lost an engine for further proof.)


#2 - Crop dusting airplanes operate just above the ground to kill insects with their chemical sprays

If they fly any higher than that, the droplets would easily dissipate and never reach their target. Flying at 30,000 feet where ALL of these suspect trails are the winds are usually much faster than they are down near the surface. So, if the government were trying to affect us, they’re not being too smart about it. They should buzz us all like tanker planes trying to put out a forest fire, but they don’t. Planes do dump one thing into the atmosphere however if they’re in distress and that’s fuel which you guessed it, dissipates before ever showering unsuspecting citizens below.


#3 - These trails happen in broad daylight.

Don’t you think that if they were trying to be all secretive, flying so high that we almost can’t see the airplanes, that they would virtually announce their presence by having HUGE billowing clouds following behind them? Once again, conspiracies are all about subterfuge and misdirection, so if they’re trying to hide, they need to take notes from Leon Ettienne or David Copperfield, this is their field…


#4 - If they were dumping miscellaneous agents into the atmosphere, why would they put the nozzles right next to the engines?

Let’s assume that they’re using a nonflammable agents and that they have a plane full of tanks that disperse it, like a military tanker for example, there are nowhere near enough of these aircraft to make a marked difference in the atmosphere, not to mention that these tankers need to do what they were created for, fuel other airplanes for actually important missions. The military and the government don’t have the time or the resources to dedicate to messing with us in this way, they’ve got plenty of other ways to do this on the ground.


#5 - If this really is some conspiracy, every single airline pilot is in on it too.

Like fuel tankers, passenger aircraft were created for a single purpose, to shuttle people around safely. They have no room on board for anything other than people, their baggage and fuel. It’s just inefficient to think that anything else is onboard other than that. Not to mention how safety conscious everyone (including the government) is these days. Pilots have to know their aircraft inside and out and if there was something foreign on their ship, they’d know about it and be responsible for the people in their care and by extension, those on the ground too.

 

Now to the conspiracy theorists and random citizens out there, you cannot be completely faulted here as just like any field, you can’t really get behind the scenes and see things up close unless you’re IN it, but here’s what contrails look like closeup, notice one trail per engine…

 

 

 

I could go on, but in summary, I think we’ve proved here that the chemtrail theory not only flies in the face of science but also basic logic. But, if your mind remains unchanged there’s little more that I can do to help you not sound silly when arguing against an opponent who doesn’t even exist. Airplanes do pollute the air with one thing though: exhaust. Yup, just like any machine does that consumes fuel including your car or lawn mower. Unless you wanna take a page from the Amish, lets look elsewhere for our conspiracy theories and stop pestering science and logic to prove that they’re still the kings of the hill.

Next: Did The Government Create Hurricane Sandy?

[How StuffWorks]

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