A small percentage of readers are true believers in the theory that governments are sowing the atmosphere with evil chemicals.
In fact, the chemtrails theory has spawned a cottage industry of believers and exploiters. They hold conferences, write books and maintain Web pages.
Even the singer Prince cited chemtrails in a 2009 television appearance and said he learned about them from comedian and activist Dick Gregory. Chuck Norris is a believer, too.
But the someone who would be expected to believe, Jesse Ventura, who hosted the television show “Conspiracy Theory,” does not. “Why would they commit suicide themselves . . . ,” he asked one interviewer of alleged government polluters.
One theory is that the U.S. government is carrying out extensive weather modification experiments, geoengineering, by spreading chemicals in the atmosphere.
Official denials are dismissed with the comment that the government lies about lots of things, why not this.
Now a new study from the Carnegie Institution for Science, University of California Irvine, and the nonprofit organization Near Zero says that well-understood physical and chemical processes can easily explain chemtrails.
Some groups and individuals erroneously believe that the long-lasting condensation trails, or contrails, left behind aircraft, are evidence of a secret large-scale spraying program, said the institution, adding that adherents of this conspiracy theory sometimes attribute this alleged spraying to the government and sometimes to industry.
The team’s findings, published by Environmental Research Letters, are based on a survey of two groups of experts: atmospheric chemists who specialize in condensation trails and geochemists working on atmospheric deposition of dust and pollution, the institution noted, adding:
“The survey results show that 76 of the 77 participating scientists said they had not encountered evidence of a secret
spraying program, and agree that the alleged evidence cited by the individuals who believe that atmospheric spraying is occurring could be explained through other factors, such as typical airplane contrail formation and poor data sampling.”
In a 2011 international survey, nearly 17 percent of the public said they believed the existence of a secret large-scale atmospheric spraying program to be true or partly true, the institution said in a summary. And in recent years a number of Web sites have arisen claiming to show evidence of widespread secret chemical spraying, which they say is linked to negative impacts on human health and the environment, it added.
The research team said they do not hope to sway those already convinced that there is a secret spraying program as these individuals usually only reject counter-evidence as further proof of their theories, said the summary. Instead, the team wanted to establish a source of objective science that can inform public discourse, it added.
This is the first peer-reviewed academic article that the team says shows that chemtrails are just ordinary contrails, which are becoming more abundant as air travel expands.