Chemtrails / contrails
Sean Cate
Sean Cate
March 20, 2024 ·  3 min read

Are Chemtrails Real? Here’s What Experts Say

Picture the sky, the clouds, the highways of birds and airplanes, the strange streaks behind the airplanes….Wait, what are those again? These lines, known as contrails or condensation trails, are formed when water vapor condenses and freezes around aircraft exhaust.1 However, a growing number of people believe that these streaks are not simple condensation but rather are evidence of a government scheme called “chemtrails.” Let’s delve into this contentious topic and examine what the experts have to say.

The Chemtrails Conspiracy Theory

Chemtrail theory can be traced back to the mid-1990s, primarily influenced by an Air Force research paper from 1996 titled “Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather in 2025”. The theory suggests that the government or other powerful entities are dispersing toxic chemicals via aircraft, with motives ranging from population control to weather manipulation. What’s notable is that this theory has no singular narrative; instead, believers adapt and reinterpret the theory based on personal inclinations. This lack of consistency weakens any argument despite the shaky ground already being stood on. 

Despite lacking concrete evidence, belief in chemtrails has only grown more popular, fueled by social media echo chambers and skepticism towards authority figures. The flexibility of the theory allows it to persist despite being scientifically refuted. Additionally, the visibility of contrails in everyday life serves to reinforce the theory’s appeal. Individuals find validation for their distrust in the government or concerns about environmental issues by embracing the chemtrails theory.

Read More: Planned Obsolescence: The Products You Buy are Designed to Break

Debunking Chemtrails

Scientists and researchers have adamantly refuted the existence of chemtrails, emphasizing the lack of any credible evidence supporting such claims (besides the contrails, which again have been tested and proven to be water vapor).2 Harvard researchers have pointed out the logistical nightmare of concealing such a large-scale operation involving thousands of individuals (same rules for the entire global space community hiding the truth of a Flat Earth”). Also, the chemtrails theory is completely debunked by established atmospheric science, which explains the formation and behavior of contrails.3 Yet despite all these rebuttals, belief in chemtrails persists, underscoring the challenge of dispelling deeply ingrained conspiracy theories. People want to be right so badly they’re willing to throw away logic to further their beliefs (that’s not even getting started on religion…). 

Recent studies have highlighted the potential environmental consequences of contrails, suggesting they may contribute to global warming by enhancing the greenhouse effect.4 When all planes were grounded after the September 11 attack, researchers were able to study the environmental effects of contrails and saw their negative environmental effects. Science doesn’t play favorites; understanding the dynamics of aircraft emissions works both for and against our safety.

While chemtrails persist as a prominent conspiracy theory, scientific evidence and expert consensus have refuted its validity to kingdom come. Nonetheless, the social dynamics driving belief in chemtrails and the environmental implications of contrails do warrant continued scrutiny, research, and worry. As society grapples with misinformation and distrust, critical thinking and scientific literacy remain essential in navigating complex issues like chemtrail theorists.

Read More: What is the Mysterious ‘Global Hum’?


  1. Chemtrails Conspiracy Theory.” CTV News. Leah Asmelash. March 12, 2024.
  2. Chemtrails Conspiracy Theory.” Harvard
  3. Chemtrails: What’s the truth behind the conspiracy theory?BBC. Alistair Coleman. July 22, 2022.
  4. Why do jets leave a white trail in the sky?Scientific American. November 2001