Archived Story

Chemtrail theorists are true believers

Published 11:24am Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Column: Pothole Prairie

Lee Harvey Oswald didn’t act alone.

FDR knew the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was coming.

The government is responsible for 9/11.

Water fluoridation is a large public health fraud.

The medical community could cure cancer but that would destroy the cancer-treatment industry.

AIDS was a biological warfare experiment that inadvertently escaped the laboratory.

Bill Clinton had the means to quietly assassinate associates who stood in his way, and they would die under mysterious circumstances.

A small group of elite wealthy people control governments, industry, militaries and media outlets worldwide.

The American walks on the moon were recorded in a studio in San Bernardino, Calif.

A frozen envelope was used in the NBA lottery to ensure Patrick Ewing would go to the New York Knicks.

There are lots of conspiracy theories out there, but nothing gets people going like the one over chemtrails.

That’s right, not contrails, the condensation trails jet airplanes make in the skies. Chemtrails, the spraying of chemicals in our skies.

The chemtrailers believe that the government has jets that fill our skies with chemicals for some clandestine purpose, like weather control or something more nefarious.

The conspiracy theory arose in the 1990s following an Air Force paper called “Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather in 2025.”

The chemtrailers point to the patchwork of lines in the sky and wonder why some dissipate quickly and some stay around for hours and hours. They say they have seen planes turn around and cross the same area of sky above them. They say they have seen planes with trails that turn on and off and on again, or be off, then on and off again.

I agree it’s good to have skepticism of government. I share that skepticism. After all, I am a Persian Gulf War vet. I know veterans who suffered from Gulf War syndrome only to have the Department of Defense deny the existence of the syndrome. Yet I felt I could have explained the source of the syndrome, like any vet could: an ugly cocktail of the chemicals we were exposed to.

After all, the military gave us bromide tablets. The Iraqi and the U.S. military blew up all kinds of things around us, from oil wells to chemical dumps. Soldiers were around depleted uranium and powerful pesticides. And they received all kinds of vaccinations.

Finally, following persistent reports in the news media, the Department of Defense acknowledged the existence of the syndrome, and it went from being a conspiracy theory to truth. Usually, the cited cause is exposure to toxic chemicals.

I never experienced the syndrome, but I did receive letters from the Department of Defense saying I was in a unit that was downwind from the explosion of a plant with toxic chemicals. The letters explained that I have a higher likelihood of brain cancer. Just lovely.

So, yes, be skeptical of the government. However, I believe it is also healthy to be skeptical of any conspiracy theory. Don’t mistakenly buy into something that is untrue simply because the government denies its existence.

Here is why I don’t believe in chemtrails.

Nowhere in my media career or in the careers of friends I have who work in news media at all levels have I or they witnessed the government control what is published. In fact, just like me, they love to expose truths the government has kept hidden.

One fine example is the exposure by U.S. and U.K. news media of the practice of extraordinary rendition, whereby the U.S. government would place people in foreign jails that it viewed as terrorists but could not hold in America without probable cause. In other words, the feds would deny people, sometimes American citizens, due process guaranteed under the Bill of Rights.

And while there is plenty of so-called “evidence” of chemtrails on the Internet, I have yet to read a news report that exposes chemtrails as truth.

If there is one axiom, I believe in, it is this: Humans are frail and prone to all sorts of flaws.

Because of that axiom, I believe the following to be true: It is possible for a small number of people to keep a secret. It is impossible for a large number of people to keep a secret.

Don’t you think that somewhere a chemtrail pilot, ground crew member, tower official, navigator, mission commander — how many people are involved in a sortie and how many years has the government been doing this now? — and a credible journalist would meet?

The fact is that contrails dissipate at different rates because of relative humidity and the varying conditions at varying altitudes in the sky. The checkerboards form because we have many, many, many flight lanes in these United States, and it is difficult to discern flight altitudes from the ground level.

I grew up in a rural area with a big sky. And as an adult I spend lots of time outdoors and still look at the skies. I have seen jets change directions slightly en route to Denver, Chicago, Minneapolis or wherever. I have never seen them plumb turn around. I have seen their contrails stop and start, but I also am smart enough to know that the consistency of the atmosphere is different at different levels and in different places. Contrails can stop and start as their aircraft moves through different pockets of air.

What I have read on the Internet, too, is that this is a conspiracy theory that has been resoundingly debunked. Yet chemtrailers are true believers. It’s admirable, really.

 

Tribune Managing Editor Tim Engstrom’s column appears every Tuesday.