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Chem-Trails Vapor Trails

just wondering
please explain the concern and pre-occupation with vapor trails?

is there something unique about these vapor trails from normal every day commercial jet aircraft vapor trails?

thank you.
A Little Knowledge Can Be Dangerous 02.Mar.2003 09:12


There's nothing really unusual about aircraft vapor trails. They're a perfectly natural phenomenon. Unfortunately, some conspiracy-prone people have decided to take a few grains of truth and mix them with large parts of imagination.

The general population is not being sprayed with "chemicals" from commercial aircraft or even military aircraft on a regular basis. It's just jet exhaust.

The grain of truth here is that jet exhaust isn't totally harmless, just like automobile exhaust and other products of fossil fuel combustion. Under certain meteorological conditions, it can create more cloud cover. Like all fossil fuel combustion, it does contribute to global warming, and people often have adverse reactions to breathing in these combustion by-products.

A larger grain of truth is that our government lies to us on a routine basis, so if you're conspiracy-prone, you would naturally discount any disclaimers from "official" sources that say there's nothing sinister about jet exhausts. The government has done some sneaky experimentation of unsuspecting citizens and lied about it. And then there's the crop-spraying being done in places like Columbia to eradicate drugs.

The chem-trail crowd has taken lots of pretty pictures of contrails and has managed to come up with some extremely fanciful explanations for what they're seeing. Their ignorance of basic science, and we're talking no more than junior high science here, is astounding. For instance, in some weather conditions, contrails are formed not only from the jet exhausts, but also from the turbulence of an aircraft's wingtips and tailtips. It looks pretty impressive, but it's totally natural. But if a chem-trailer snaps a photo of one of these, s/he labels it a "super-sprayer."

The chem-trailers see conspiracy in a jet flying from a moist area, where contrails form, into a dryer area, where there may be no contrail, and then back into a moist area again. They ignore upper-level winds and their effect on the contrails, which can spread them out. Since the cities of the Willamette Valley are under a lot of jets flying between Seattle and the major cities of California, the chem-trailers claim we're being targetted. They ignore the fact that the prevailing winds take anything in those contrails far to our east before they dissipate, so if anything from these supposed "sprayings" did reach the ground, it would fall far to the east of the cities. But, as I said, basic science means little to the chem-trailers.

They often take pretty pictures, however.

I visited one site of a chem-trail conspiracy theorist. On it, I saw photos taken out at PDX. The claim was made that a plane had nozzles on it for spraying chemicals. It was hard to see anything different in the small photo, but from the description and the photo, it sure looked and read like the guy had taken a picture of a tanker aircraft, and the nozzles were for in-flight refueling. But of course, it's more exciting, for the chem-trailer anyway, to think it was a picture of one of those mysterious government aircraft that are poisoning the populace for whatever reason the chem-trailers think we're being poisoned.

The government, especially under Bush, is doing some pretty bad things in this country and abroad. This preoccupation with the non-existent problem of "chem-trails" is way off the mark. It may fulfill some need that the conspiracy theorists have, but mostly it's a waste of time.

Happy Trails 02.Mar.2003 12:18


Moby; I think your insights are valid, and you did not offend the conspiracists, acknowledging that the gov't does do some sneaky things. However, you did point out the fact that contrails are not good. They pollute the atmosphere by the shear pounds of fossil fuels they burn and all the side components produced, some which contribute to global warming, others to ozone depletion, and others to breathing air quality.

Something I wonder about 02.Mar.2003 14:43

Under Construction

It would be useful to know what quantities of greenhouse gases are emitted by commercial air transport (in terms of units per person-mile) and how this compares to other means of powered transportation, e.g., cars, buses, trains etc.

Also, the raw consumption of fossil fuels, compared on the same basis, would be illuminating.

In other words, how much do we waste for the sake of the convenience of fast travel?

Anyone know if that's ever been quantified?

State of the World 2002 03.Mar.2003 12:25

Not a medic

The question about jet travel and global warming/greenhouse effect is very pertinent.

Start with the book, State of the World 2002 by the Worldwatch Institute. It's available at the library. Worldwatch information is also available online. There are several chapters in the book that touch on attempts to quantify that information. The "Special Report: Aviation and the Global Atmosphere" (Geneva:1999) sounds like it deals with exactly that question.

It is an obvious concern for us all, since on the one hand we have a continual push to use modes of travel that could have a disastrous effect on global conditions, but on the other we have little information about what our alternatives are, other than using that bicycle.

And while I am typing: Thanks, Moby.

response to Moby. 08.Jul.2003 17:06

concerned free thinker...

It would appear that Moby has his head in the sand like an ostrich. This is the general state of affairs for the nation. A malaise that is sweeping over us all. We say that "if it does not directly concern me then it is not my problem or not a problem at all". When will these people wake up. Most likely when it is too late. What can you expect from a person raised on processed and genetically engineered foods. What can one expect from someone so obviously predetermined to close his eyes to the truth?
I suggest you start taking a good look around at what is taking place in this country and world as a whole. Our government is changing the world through its machiavellian tactics. Creating a problem and then pretending to fix it, while all the while keeping us as complacent and listless and ignorant as possible. Wake up man!

This is B.S. 12.Sep.2004 20:49

A disgruntled Toronto resident

Chem-trails are mainly barium and were are being poisoned. STOP IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I saw one today; August 12, 2004