Chemtrail conspiracy theories just won’t die. Paranoid hypotheses about the origins and purpose of the white condensation trails, or contrails, left by airplanes have been in circulation for decades, and many hint at a global conspiracy to poison the world’s population with mind-altering chemical weapons.

Do these trails show evidence of a secret government program to poison the masses? Probably not.

A recent survey asked people around the world whether or not they believe in the existence of a global chemtrail conspiracy perpetrated by some clandestine shadow government. Unsurprisingly, 17% of respondents answered that they do in fact believe in chemtrail conspiracy theories. Unfortunately for them, a survey of prominent international of atmospheric researchers has shown that scientists do not agree.

A survey of international scientists has revealed plausible explanations for atmospheric contrails.

The data was published in Environmental Research Letters by scientists from the University of California Irvine, the Carnegie Institution for Science, and the clean energy nonprofit Near Zero. To gather the data used in this study, the researchers issued two surveys (found here and here) to 77 different scientists around the world, asking them about their belief or nonbelief in a “secret large-scale atmospheric program,” or SLAP. According to their publication, researchers found little belief in SLAP theories among the scientific community, who have more grounded explanations for mysterious trails in the sky:

Results show that 76 of the 77 scientists (98.7%) that took part in this study said they had not encountered evidence of a SLAP, and that the data cited as evidence could be explained through other factors, including well-understood physics and chemistry associated with aircraft contrails and atmospheric aerosols.

Lines in the sky? Must be that darned shadow government at it again.

In a UC Irvine press release, professor of earth system science Steven Davis stated that the development of the internet might have had a hand in the development of chemtrail conspiracy theories, which go against the consensus of scientists:

The chemtrails conspiracy theory maps pretty closely to the origin and growth of the internet, where you can still find a number of websites that promote this particular brand of pseudoscience. Our survey found little agreement in the scientific community with claims that the government, the military, airlines and others are colluding in a widespread, nefarious program to poison the planet from the skies.

Some of the more prominent explanations for condensation trails cited in this research were climate change and improved aerospace engineering, which has allowed plane engines to emit cooler vapor and fly at higher altitudes. The combination of these factors could account for increased sightings of condensation trails.

The combination of improved engine technology and climate change remains the most common scientific explanation for increased sightings of contrails worldwide.

Does this research show that contrails are merely the result of changing aerospace and atmospheric conditions, or does it show that a large number of scientists have been coerced into acting as mouthpieces for a shadow government intent on bringing humanity to its knees through chemical weapons? Most likely the former. Let’s go with that.

Brett Tingley

Brett Tingley is a writer and musician living in the ancient Appalachian mountains.

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