You look up to a beautiful blue sky as a plane flies past, long trails of white “smoke” hanging in the sky behind it.
This is likely a familiar scene for you, and by now you know that the plane isn’t on fire. This is a product of science: water in a jet’s exhaust mixes with moist cold air, condenses, and then freezes and forms ice crystals. The term for this is condensation trails, or, more popularly, contrails.
However, not everyone believes the science. There are some who believe that, instead, the planes are part of a secret government conspiracy, spraying chemicals in our atmosphere, dubbing them “chemtrails.”
Now, a new study — the first of its kind — out of Carnegie Institution for Science, part of the University of California Irvine, and the non-profit organization Net Zero, have proven that there are no chemicals coming from jets.
The study surveyed leading atmospheric scientists from around the world, including those who specialize in condensation trails and geochemists who study dust and pollution in our atmosphere. Their conclusions: there is no secret spraying program in place.
The researchers decided to conduct the study following a 2011 international survey where 17 per cent of respondents claimed to believe in the secret spraying program. And, while researchers say that they don’t think everyone will believe the study, they do hope to reach others.
“I felt it was important to definitively show what real experts in contrails and aerosols think,” said Ken Caldeira, an author of the study from Carnegie. “We might not convince die-hard believers that their beloved secret spraying program is just a paranoid fantasy, but hopefully their friends will accept the facts.”
And, though contrails may not be chemtrails, research suggests that they are responsible for warming the atmosphere. In fact, a study conducted following 9/11, when planes around the world were grounded, found that contrails can influence ground temperatures.