The chemtrail conspiracy theory seems to frequently misidentify ordinary contrails as “chemtrails” – some kind of secret spraying program. This theory comes in many flavors, and there’s a large number of things people bring up as “evidence” to support this theory. I’ve tried to gather all the debunks of this evidence in one place here, for easy reference.
While the title of this post is “How to Debunk Chemtrails”, the actual debunking depends on what version of the theory needs debunking.
The most common version is simply that “normal” contrails should not persist, so the persistent trails must be “chemtrails”. The simplest way to debunk this is to note that all known books on clouds and weather say that contrails sometimes persist. As seen in this video:
With discussion and reference here:
After that, there’s a variety of common claims, and variations on those themes. The best approach is to debunk the individual claim (such as: contrails only last a few seconds), rather than trying to debunk the entire theory.
I’ve tried to arrange each section in the order of most useful links first.
Contrails Through History
Theorists claim: Contrails used to dissipate in a few seconds, minutes at most.
But they didn’t. There’s a huge amount of evidence (in addition to lots of people remembering persistent contrails). It dates back to 1918, and continues up to the present day.
Contrail photos through history - Fifty photos of persisting and spreading contrails from 1950 to 1995. Taken from people’s old photo albums, and old books. Also links to other similar collections.
Life Magazine Contrail Photos – Eleven photos that appeared in Life Magazine from 1940 to 1998 show persisting and spreading contrails.
WWII Contrails – A large collection of photos showing persisting and spreading contrails from WWII in the 1940s.
Pre WWII Contrails – The History of contrails dating back to 1918, with the first persistent spreading contrail observed in 1921
Some more WWII Contrails – A WWII contrail photo I found in an old photo album uploaded to Flickr.
Thirty Contrails, Forty Years Ago – An impressive photo of a sky full of contrails from before 1967.
Clouds before Planes – Cloud Studies 1905 – A 100 year old book showing photos of clouds that some chemtrail enthusiasts think must be man-made.
Memphis Belle WWII Bomber Contrails – 1944 – A 1940s film that shows planes leaving contrails, including with gaps in them.
Fighter and Bomber Contails, 1940s – Video and photos of wartime contrails over London and the English countryside
Twilight Zone Contrails – Contrails show up in a 1959 episode of The Twilight Zone
Chemtrails were Contrails – A video of some old newspaper accounts of contrails.
Contrail Confusion is Nothing New – Accounts from the 1950s of people being confused by contrails – taking them to be something else.
Chemical Tests, Aluminum, Barium, Etc.
Theorist claim: Chemical tests reveal aluminum and barium have been sprayed
In reality the tests all show normal levels of chemicals. They were often very badly performed (testing soil instead of water, and confusing the level, or using the wrong units of measurements).
What In The World Are They Spraying? – An explanation of the mistakes in the popular chemtrail video.
Barium Chemtrails on KSLA – A very popular “chemtrail” news story where the reporter gets his figures entirely wrong.
Chemtrail Non-science Air analysis from Phoenix that shows levels so high we’d all be dead. They did it wrong.
Chemical Analysis of Contrails – Clifford Carnicom claims high levels of some chemicals, but they actually show lower than normal levels.
Photos and Video used by chemtrail theorists
Theorists claim: Photos and videos show spray planes.
Reality: all the planes have been identified. Most have non-controversial uses, and the rest are demonstrable fakes.
“Chemtrail” Aircraft Photos – The inside and outside of variosu suppsed “Chemtrail” planes. Explained.
Fake, Hoax, Chemtrail Videos – Some of the more obvious hoax videos.
Germans Admit They Used Düppel!
– A German news story about chaff interfering with weather radar is deliberately mistranslated.
History Channel, That’s Impossible, Weather Warfare & Chemtrails – a look as some of the claims on the Discover channel show on chemtrails.
Contrails In the Movies – A look at a couple of contrails in some animated movies.
About the Chemtrail theory
Theorist claim: Lots of people believe in chemtrails, and it’s mentioned in a government bill, so it must be true.
Reality: Not really. Lots of people believe in all kinds of things, and the mention in the bill was inserted by some UFO enthusiasts.
A brief history of “Chemtrails” – How it got started in 1997, who started it, and how it developed.
Chemtrail Myths – Five common myths about “chemtrails”
How many people believe in chemtrails? – just how popular is the theory? Not very.
Kucinich, Chemtrails and HR 2977 – The supposed outlawing of chemtrails. What really happened.
General Discussion of Chemtrails
Theorist claim: People don’t remember lots of contrails like this, so it must be new.
Reality: Many people DO remember. But most people still don’t pay any attention to contrails. You see things more when you are interested in them.
The amount of air traffic, grids, and contrail patterns
Theorist claim: grids and X patterns prove they can’t be contrails
Reality: grids and X’s are inevitable results of air traffic, and winds and weather conditions.
Theorists claim: “chemtrails” are not contrails, because contrails don’t act like that
Reality: Contrails sometimes persist and spread, it depends on the weather at 30,000 feet (and not on the ground)
Persisting and Spreading Contrails
The opposite of contrails
Measuring the height of contrails
How Long do Contrails Last?
Contrail to Distrail
Why do some planes leave long trails, but others don’t?
Chemtrail Plausibility Study
Why Planes Make Vapor Trails
Unusual contrails explained
Theorists claim: odd looking contrails prove they are not contrails.
Reality: all can be explained if you do a bit of research.
Hole Punch Clouds in Los Angeles
Contrail Gaps and other Questions
Contrails, Dark Lines, & “Chemtrails”
Contrail of the Day
Very Unusual Short Tapered Contrails
Voodoo Contrails over Los Angeles
Contrails Above and Below
Short Sunlit Contrails Look Like UFOs
Aerodynamic and Rainbow Contrails
Identifying a Curved Contrail
Contrail Season in Los Angeles
Ground Level Contrails
The Los Angeles Mystery Missile Contrail, and similar
New Mystery Missile, Padre Island Texas. Debunked
Did Chemtrails Cause the Beebe Blackbird Deaths
Manu Ginobili’s Santa Monica Silver Surfer
Los Angeles Missile Contrail Explained in Pictures
Contrails are Usually Horizontal
A Problem of Perspective – New Year’s Eve Contrail
Other random stuff
Contrails and Chemtrails: The IFAQ
Volcano Clears the Skies of Contrails
AC-130 Flares and Chaff
A Very Unusual Contrail
Modern Contrail Confusion
Cirrus Uncinus and Contrails
Things are not as they seem