A new joint study from Standford’s Carnegie Institution for Science, the University of California Irvine, and the nonprofit, Near Zero, reports that 76 out of 77 atmospheric chemists and geochemists say that “chemtrails” are not real. So the next time somebody brings them up, you can halt your Herculean eye roll, and just point them in the direction of the paper, which was recently published here, in Environmental Research Letters.
To be fair, the study, which comes via EurekAlert, didn’t directly conduct tests on the atmosphere, but did survey those 77 scientists who specialize in the Earth and its atmosphere, and 98.7% of them reported that there is absolutely no evidence of such a scheme.
If you’re unfamiliar with “chemtrails,” they are—according to a popular conspiracy theory—atmosphere-altering or downright malevolent chemicals that are sprayed, intentionally, from the world’s average aircrafts into the air on a daily basis. If you’re wondering why somebody, anybody, would do this, the essential claim is that the chemicals could alter specific people’s behavior or their environment negatively.
Now the biggest problem with the theory is that those “chemtrails” can be explained extremely easily. Why do we see white trails behind aircraft? Because—everybody together now—science!
The white trails behind an aircraft, according to science, which demands skeptical study and verification (oh science, you beautiful, beautiful method for understanding the world), shows that those white trails are not chemical trails, but rather condensation trails, or “contrails.”
Contrails occur because of the differences in air temperature planes cause, due to either the aerodynamics of their wings or the exhaust from their engines. Basically, if air passes over a plane’s wing—an airfoil—it depressurizes, cools down, and condenses into a cloud trail behind said wing. Or, in the case of an engine, extremely hot, humid air exits the engine, and condenses upon contact with the very cold ambient air. These contrails last much longer because the ambient air at high altitudes is so cold. A great video on the physics of contrails is available below from YouTuber Boldmethod:
Another conspiracy theory bites the dust, although it’s doubtful anybody who believes in chemtrails will believe these scientists. But can’t we spend all that brain power on more important theories? Like whether or not Lady Stoneheart will appear in season seven of Game of Thrones, or y’know… WHO SHOT FIRST?
Now who’s going to shoot first in the comments section below? Tell us what you think about this conspiracy theory, and how much you love science.
Chemtrails may not exist, but Upside Down from Stranger Things just might. Find out more below!
Images: Fedor Leukhin/Wikimedia