17 Feb, 2024 @ 17:30
2 mins read

What are ‘chemtrails’? The conspiracy theory that persists among Brits and locals in Spain – despite scientists debunking the claims

ONE of the world’s most popular conspiracy theories, “chemtrails” alleges that contrails — the vapour that forms on the wings of aeroplanes during high altitude flight — are actually chemicals deployed by the global elite to control the population and manipulate the Earth’s weather. 

The theory has existed since at least the 1990s. 

One survey from 2011 suggested that as much as 17% of the global population might find the theory credible. 

More recently, the theory has received media attention amid a recent surge in conspiracy theories linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Spain, the chemtrail theory has been disseminated through popular talk show programs, such as Iker Jimenez’s TV show Horizonte. 

'Stop complaining about chemtrails!' Prosecutor in Spain insists the visible vapor from planes is NOT toxic after being inundated with denuncias from conspiracy theorists
The chemtrail conspiracy theory has zero basis in science.

On the May 12, 2023 episode, the controversial television journalist invited retired commander from the defunct Spanish airline Aviaco and chemtrail conspiracy theorist Javier Antolinez to speak on his show. 

Antolinez explains that the contrails left by commercial jetliners “are not normal,” because they remain in the sky long after the plane has passed, and slowly morph into cloud cover, thus affecting weather patterns.

This is the basis of one branch of the chemtrail theory: that contrails are a deliberate, international effort to manipulate the Earth’s weather patterns for nefarious purposes. 

Performing a thorough debunking of chemtrails is hardly necessary at this point, not to mention it would be quite the endeavour, as numerous derivations of the theory exist, each of which requires its own debunking.

A wealth of information is available for those who are unsure. 

But the basic claim is that contrails — clouds that naturally form when condensed water vapour freezes around the particles in aircraft exhaust — should disappear quickly after forming.

The fact that they don’t has led supporters of the theory to believe that these clouds are either filled with toxic chemicals meant to subdue the population, or are deliberately created to manipulate weather patterns for sinister purposes. 

Such claims have no basis in credible science.

Scientists have identified multiple types of contrails — some of which persist and result in human-made cirrus clouds — as a normal meteorological phenomena. 

Another pillar of the chemtrail theory is the idea of “geo-engineering” — that a diverse crew of global elites is deliberately manipulating the Earth’s weather patterns. 

Such technology has been discussed in the context of cooling the Earth to mitigate the effects of climate change, but is still in its early stages — far behind the scale necessary for the chemtrail theory to be feasible — and is considered controversial. 

But the difficulty in disproving conspiracy theories lies in the magnitude of their claims and utter rejection of the burden of proof. 

The rigour of the scientific processes does not apply to them, because for conspiracy theorists, the institutions which advocate for such processes are the enemies of truth.  

Information supporting one’s hypothesis is accepted as proof, while all counterevidence is rationalised as part of the coverup. 

But the nature of science demands that hypotheses be falsifiable; chemicals being deliberately sprayed over the Earth from jetliners for nefarious purposes on the orders of a shadowy global cabal is abstract — an assumption that’s inherently incompatible with the scientific method. 

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, and no such proof exists for the chemtrail theory. 

What’s more, a deliberate government effort to control the climate and poison the population would require thousands of people, and governments are famously bad at keeping secrets. 

Someone would have blown the whistle by now.


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