If you look up out­side you might no­tice the blue sky strewn with ar­ti­fi­cial re­flec­tive clouds. These tell­tale streaks of white are called con­trails, and they are pro­duced by air­craft ex­haust emis­sions. Con­trails form when the hy­dro­car­bon con­tent of jet fuel pro­duces wa­ter as a by-prod­uct of com­bus­tion. The wa­ter mixes with cold, wet air and con­denses, and it can freeze to form ice crys­tals. How­ever, some be­lieve that there is a more malev­o­lent un­der­cur­rent to the go­ings-on in the up­per tro­po­sphere and lower strato­sphere.

Most ad­vo­cates of the so-called ‘chem­trails’ con­spir­acy re­call see­ing fewer and less lin­ger­ing con­trails when they were younger. How­ever, this can be ex­plained by the dra­matic in­crease in air traf­fic we’ve seen over the last few decades, as well as cooler ex­haust emis­sions thanks to in­creased fuel ef­fi­ciency.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, the ev­i­dence for chem­trails isn’t com­pelling and re­mains built on pseudo-sci­en­tific prin­ci­ples. Con­spir­acy the­o­rists’ claims range from the idea that gov­ern­ment agen­cies are at­tempt­ing to turn clouds into spy­ing de­vices to con­trol our minds, to the no­tion that they are spray­ing chem­i­cals to de­lib­er­ately make us sick.

There is one peer-re­viewed pa­per on the topic, and it doesn’t sup­port the out­landish se­cret spray­ing scan­dal. The re­searchers asked 77 at­mo­spheric sci­en­tists to re­view the data for ev­i­dence of chem­trails. Only one sci­en­tist said there was a pos­si­bil­ity some of it could be ev­i­dence, but they also ar­tic­u­lated that it wouldn’t be the only ex­pla­na­tion.

The chem­trail con­spir­acy the­ory first emerged shortly after a pa­per en­ti­tled Weather as a Force Mul­ti­plier was pub­lished by the US Air Force in 1996. The ar­ti­cle out­lined spec­u­la­tions by mil­i­tary re­searchers about whether the abil­ity to con­trol the weather could be use­ful in com­bat. Though the US Air Force have main­tained that this was purely hy­po­thet­i­cal, it is un­der­stand­ably a chill­ing thought. Even so, there’s noth­ing up in the air with this one: the sci­en­tific data con­firms that con­trails are com­pletely harm­less.

Con­trails only form in cer­tain at­mo­spheric con­di­tions

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.