Photo credit: Carolyn Kaster/AP

Those condensation trails in the sky left by aircraft are common, and most of us wouldn’t notice them, but for some, they’re the mark of a secret large-scale spraying program by the government. Well, surprise, no such thing exists (or so the CIA wants you to think). At least, according to science.


In a study conducted at the Carnegie Institution for Science at UC Irvine, 77 of the world’s leading atmospheric scientists were surveyed on the subject of chemtrails, with all except one saying they hadn’t encountered any evidence of any secret spraying program. The findings, which were published in Environmental Research Letters, showcase the expert opinions of atmospheric chemists who specialize in condensation trails and geochemists who work on atmospheric dust.

The “spraying” could be explained by other factors, they said, including airplane contrail formation and poor data sampling, along with “well-understood physics and chemistry” associated with the subject.


“We wanted to establish a scientific record on the topic of secret atmospheric spraying programs for the benefit of those in the public who haven’t made up their minds,” said Steven Davis, an author on the study. “The experts we surveyed resoundingly rejected contrail photographs and test results as evidence of a large-scale atmospheric conspiracy.”

Chemtrails have taken the blame for a number of concerns, including global warming, and it’s not a niche belief. A 2011 international survey showed that nearly 17 percent of participants believed partially in the existence of such a program. One article over at Geo Engineering Watch, written in 2016, says that the spraying is done to offset the heating effect an increasing amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. The author writes:

“These observed persistent ‘contrails’ are visible for several hours – and evidence suggests the contrails are aerosol sprays of metal oxides meant to reflect incoming solar thermal energy so as to cool the Earth by 1-2% and offset the greenhouse effect of increasing atmospheric CO2.”

Later, the author writes:


“When these sprays fall to earth, they are invisible and easily penetrate deep into human tissues as they are breathed, drunk, and eaten in food grown in heavy-metal-laced soils toxic to life.”

Most of the time, what we see on the ground are contrails from jet engines. Since those engines spew out hot air, which is at odds with the cold, low pressure air high in the atmosphere, creating condensation.



So what does cause those trails to last for several hours? According to Ken Caldeira, an author on the study, they are most likely contrails from planes, seen with more frequency due to the rise in air travel. He also posits that global warming could be causing them to last longer, as more humidity causes them to linger.

The point of the study was to provide an objective bookmark for future research. Caldeira is aware that the research won’t sway anybody who is committed to the conspiracy idea.

“I felt it was important to definitively show what real experts in contrails and aerosols think. 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,” he said.


Of course, this could all still be a government cover-up, so don’t take our word for it.

[Carnegie Institution for Science]