A California county board actually voted unanimously Tuesday to seek out more information about so-called "chemtrails," a conspiracy theory that some say involves the government using planes spray chemicals into the atmosphere, leaving long-lasting contrails.
About 300 people gathered at Shasta County Board of Supervisors meeting and talked for nearly four hours about the idea that the government geoengineers, or manipulates the environment, using substances spread by planes.
“The contamination issue is a public health hazard,” Dane Wigington said, leading a presentation at the meeting, according to KRCR-TV. “And we believe that disclosure is necessary, required and that's all we're asking, is disclosure of the heavy metal contamination and the UV issue. That's what we're asking for."
While traditional plane contrails will dissipate in the atmosphere naturally, there are many contrails that are seen long after the plane passed by. It's the latter that have led to the "chemtrail conspiracy," which involves the belief that chemicals or other agents are being spread in the atmosphere and could be harmful to human or environmental health.
Earlier this year, Discovery News called it "odd that conspiracy theorists are so certain [chemtrails] exist but can’t even agree on what, exactly, they are or what they do. Some say it’s a sinister government mind-control experiment. Others say the trails are a form of weather control. Still others insist that experimental drugs are being tested on unsuspecting urban populations."
The evidence for so-called chemtrails is "elusive," according to Discovery News.
Andre Pattantyus, an atmospheric scientist, wrote this month in a letter to the editor of the Cape May County Herald "it’s probably best not to put some of those particles in the air (aluminum, sulfate) but harmful, at those doses, they are not. Is it worth worrying about? No."
And the conspiracy theorists won't like his explanation of the lingering trails.
Pattantyus pointed out that contrails might stick around longer than others because of the lack of wind at flight levels. Contrails themselves are condensation trails left behind aircraft, forming when warm, humid air from the jet mixes with low temperatures of the atmosphere.
"The particles that are ejected in airplane exhaust fall out of the sky slowly over the course of a few days and often fall through clouds where they can become seeds for tiny cloud droplets that grow into rain. This is all physics," Pattantyus wrote. Nothing defies explanation and there definitely is no conspiracy amongst the government and airlines."
But perspectives like this didn't sway Wigington and dozens of other speakers from sharing their thoughts about what could be in contrails.
“People that are loading their planes with the chemical are dressed in complete hazmat outfits,” one man said at the meeting, according to KCRC. “So if this is not harmful, why are they in a complete hazmat outfit?”
“We’ve been misled by the military industrial complex," Alan Buckman, a former meteorologist, said, according to the Record Searchlight.
Another person accused chemtrails of spreading an amount of aluminum that's preventing crews from putting out forest fires in a timely fashion.
The Shasta County board voted to send information from the meeting to the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board, as well as legislators. They plan to see if a local national park has access to equipment that can measure nanoparticles in the environment to measure the potential for chemicals.
“They say they have a lot of science, they presented us a lot of information and I think it’s important for us to have that public discussion,” Supervisor Pam Giacomoni said of the group that spoke at the meeting, according to the Record Searchlight.
Even though it is considered a conspiracy theory, Giacomoni said it's still an important discussion.
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