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A Million Poisoning Planes

Reductio ad Absurdum

Kyle Hill

August 14, 2013

The largest fleet of aircraft the world has ever seen was created to poison it. Millions of planes criss-cross the skies, dumbing down the populace with secret and powerful chemical agents. Every time you board a plane, you can’t look out a window without seeing one of these jet-powered poisoners. There is always danger overhead when chemtrails really do cover the sky.

If the chemtrail conspiracy were true, millions of pilots would be needed to crop dust the American population. A typical crop duster might use seven ounces of agent diluted in seven gallons of water to cover one acre of land. Chemtrail “people dusters” would use a similar concentration to cover the entire United States, just to be safe. For 2.38 billion acres of land, the pilots would then need—for just one week of spraying—120 billion gallons of these cryptic chemicals. That’s around the same volume as is transported in all the world’s oil tankers in one year. And such an incredible amount of agent would need an incredible number of planes. Considering that a large air freighter like a Boeing 747 can carry around 250,000 pounds of cargo, at the very least, the government would need to schedule four million 747 flights to spread their chemicals each week—eighteen times more flights per day than in the entire US.

Unless a plane could make multiple runs per day, a true chemtrail conspiracy would need 2,700 times as many 747s as have ever been constructed.

An infrastructure large enough to cover the country in chemicals would make the skies look like Coruscant. Pilots—not the millions in on the scheme—never pick up on the increased traffic. It’s a mystery to them that they never report, and they never scan the communication channels to find out what is going on. They don’t question that they have to wait an hour while half a dozen unmarked planes make their descents. A world with a chemtrail conspiracy means the most skilled vehicle operators on the planet have no idea who is operating the other vehicles or why. Ever.

Property values across the country plummet, as the most populated areas are inundated with airplane traffic and the associated noise. The government thought about putting the planes higher up in the atmosphere, but the higher they go, the more agent they would need—and that only leads to more planes, pilots, and secrecy. At this point the government might not even need a secret, stupefying chemical—if hundreds of millions of Americans never catch on to the millions of passenger-less planes overhead everyday, who needs to spend all that money on devious research and development?

The incognito infrastructure needed to conceal the chemtrail conspiracy would dwarf any other governmental agency. Millions of people—pilots, engineers, chemists, data analysts, and boots-on-the-ground hazmat teams—would need top-secret clearance for information that could never get out. If a chemtrail conspiracy were true, chances are you would run into a few involved in the cover up everyday. An effort to keep millions of mouths silent—to keep any information from pilots or participants out of the media—makes the NSA look like child’s play.

A chemtrail conspiracy comes with collateral damage. Many mechanics that work on crop dusters around the world are routinely, acutely poisoned by the chemicals the pilots seek to spread. If any significant percentage of the legion of mechanics needed to keep the chemtrail fleet flying had the same risk, literally millions of workers would come home poisoned. Spouses and significant others rush them to hospitals across the US, and the cause of this nation-wide plague never raises any eyebrows. No doctors file reports or do studies on the mysterious poisonings, no journalists ever get wind of something awry, and no police officers think a serial contaminator is on the loose. Even though every American would have a consistent chemical profile from any blood test, no one is the wiser. Every single piece of paperwork finds its proper place, deep in a file drawer of some bureaucrat keeping the lid on the chemtrail conspiracy.

Unless the air was visibly thick with the government’s chemicals, everyone would have varying degrees of exposure to the aerosolized agent. The dose makes the poison, so one neighbor might be slightly more mind-controlled than another. Like a case of mass hysteria, family and friends and strangers begin to change. People notice the spread. One day at the office Bob is asking questions about the right to privacy and the next day he has a Rumsfeld bumper sticker. Thankfully, the conspiracy is so tightly woven that it is all played off as some unidentified epidemic. Would you like a Bush ’04 button?

Instead of having the world’s largest workforce constantly spraying chemicals above the clouds, this is simply a case of misidentified physics. The differences in temperature and pressure between plane engines, wingtips, and the surrounding air coax water to condense into trails that routinely spread out into cloud-like sheets. If these trails really were part of a conspiracy, it would require more planes than the world has on hand, more workers than could ever keep a secret, and more ignorance than can even be afforded to the American people. Can we reduce the chemtrail conspiracy to the absurd?

Kyle Hill

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Kyle Hill is a science writer who specializes in finding the secret science in your favorite fandom. He writes for the Scientific American Blog Network at his blog, But Not Simpler. Hill also contributes to Slate, Wired, Nature Education, Popular Science, and io9. He manages Nature Education's Student Voices blog, is a contributor to Al Jazeera America’s science show TechKnow, and you can follow him on Twitter under @Sci_Phile.