Tennessee “Chemtrail” Bill Prohibits A Phenomenon Which Doesn’t Exist

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Contrails are real, chemtrails are not. Image credit: Dmitrijs Mihejevs/Shutterstock.com

The Tennessee “Chemtrail” Bill forbids something that doesn’t exist.

It’s common for people who believe in conspiracies to disagree with truth and scientific consensus. Tennessee’s new law that makes it illegal to put chemicals into the air is a great example of this disagreement. The bill, which was passed on Monday, aims to stop the purposeful distribution of substances that are said to change the weather or the amount of sunlight within the state’s borders. However, it is based on debunked “chemtrail” conspiracy ideas, which has led to arguments and doubt among critics.

Contrails are real, chemtrails are not. Image credit: Dmitrijs Mihejevs/Shutterstock.com


The bill’s wording is mostly about limiting geoengineering-related activities, but during the debates, people who supported the bill brought up false ideas about secret government operations. Scott Banbury, the conservation director of the Tennessee chapter of the Sierra Club, said that these references were more like conspiracies and had nothing to do with truth. “As a serious environmental group, we would be calling for a stop to what was in the bill if it were happening,” Banbury said. “It’s not going to happen.”

The “chemtrail” theory, which has been disproved by a lot of scientific data, says that the trails left by planes are actually chemical emissions planned by the government. Supporters of this idea say that these “chemtrails” are used for a variety of bad things, such as making people sick so that drug companies can make more money or to help control people’s minds. But the scientific reason for these trails is in the physics of plane exhaust. It includes water vapor that freezes into ice crystals when it comes in contact with high-altitude air that is colder.


Alan Robock, a professor of climate science at Rutgers University, explains that geoengineering is a real field of study, but scientists are still not sure what it means and have strong opinions about it. Robert F. Campbell stated that the bill’s claims that geoengineering is happening in Tennessee are not true. He makes it clear that geoengineering projects, if they were carried out, would have real effects on the environment, like what happens after a big volcano erupts, not just contrails.

Recent efforts in geoengineering research, like the University of Washington’s project to brighten clouds with sea salt aerosols, show how uncertain these goals are. These kinds of projects are meant to lessen the effects of climate change by reflecting sunlight away from Earth, but they raise a lot of social and environmental questions. Scientists warn people not to mess with Earth’s climate processes because it could lead to disasters.

The passing of the bill raises questions about how it will be enforced and what it will mean in real life. Critics like Robock question whether or not such a law would work because they don’t know how it would be enforced or what acts it is meant to stop. “It won’t make a difference either way; how could they enforce it?” Robock thinks. “What if someone put down a chemtrail in Kentucky and it went over Tennessee?” What are they going to do?”

As Tennessee’s “chemtrail” bill waits for gubernatorial approval, its controversial idea and lack of scientific basis show how hard it is to make laws based on conspiracy theories instead of facts. It is very important to tell the difference between fact and fantasy when it comes to environmental policy so that real-world problems can be solved.

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