Saturday, March 5, 2011
Contrails/Chemtrails in the Ontario, Canada News Today
Chemtrails or condensation Are chemtrails a conspiracy theory or a general hazard?
MICHAEL PROBST/The Associated Press file photo
‘Chemtrails’ theory has local believers
Drew Halfnight, Mercury staff
Sat Mar 5 20119
GUELPH — Johan Bouwer is sure the truth is out there — or rather, up there — and that the authorities want to keep you in the dark.
The 68-year-old Elora resident is convinced military planes have been spraying chemicals into the atmosphere above his Elora home as part of an international conspiracy.
“There are more things to life than a lot of people think,” Bouwer, a retired importer of toilets whose wife and two daughters also live in the Guelph area, said during a phone interview Thursday.
You might think Bouwer’s off-base. He also believes in “a new world order” and describes himself as “spiritual.” But he’s among many people who insist on the existence of man-made toxic clouds known as chemtrails.
The theory is a bona fide internet meme with a huge following in Ontario, where last week’s revelations that planes in the province used to drop cancer-causing Agent Orange on teen forestry workers could only be seen to legitimize outlandish fears of government conspiracy.
As far back as 2003, an Ontario resident collected 1,180 signatures on a petition alleging the federal government was spraying “massive amounts of chemicals” on citizens coast to coast. The petition submitted to the House of Commons was later refuted in statements by Health Canada and Environment Canada.
Bouwer said the issue first came to his attention about a year and a half ago, after he noticed jet condensation trails lingering for more than a half-hour above his home.
“I saw them with my own eyes,” he said. “After a half-hour, the trails start to widen out, and within a couple of hours, the whole atmosphere becomes hazy.”
He said normal vapour disappears within 10 minutes — a notion disputed by Environment Canada — whereas “these contrails remain.” They also appear in criss-cross patterns, he said, suggesting aircraft are passing repeatedly over one area.
He said he suspects the clouds contain poisonous chemicals aimed at controlling climate, noting: “A couple of days after the spraying, I get a sore throat.”
The existence of chemtrails has not been corroborated by anyone in any airline industry or military.
Terry Stewart, a Victoria Airport Authority employee whose statements from a phone call recorded in 2000 are often used to support the theory, cleared the air this week.
“I made a comment on a voice machine and it was blown up into the international press,” he said, adding his statement that a military exercise was happening in the area of supposed chemtrails sightings “was taken completely and utterly out of context.”
Scientists and aviation officials have said contrails sometimes hang in the sky because of atmospheric conditions such as low temperature and high humidity.
“Want to know the main chemical in contrails?” asked Ron Singer, an official at Nav Canada, the country’s air traffic control body. “It’s H2O.”
“A lot of people believe in a lot of crazy things,” Singer added. “Just look up reptilian shape-shifters on Google or YouTube.”
A public affairs officer with 1 Canadian Air Division in Winnipeg said military jets do not regularly perform any “highly classified” missions in Canada.
“You’ve got to remember that the Canadian Forces has a limited air fleet. None of them are equipped to do any spraying, and all of our bases are within full view of the civilian population,” the officer, David Elias, said, adding the Forces exist to protect Canadians, not poison them.
He said pilots are required to fly patterns as part of training, “and these involve several specific passes … in order to provide uniform coverage during a search and rescue mission.”
Ted Goertzel, a sociologist who has studied conspiracy theories at Rutgers University in New Jersey, said the chemtrails theory appears bogus.
“They don’t seem to have evidence at all,” he said. “It started as a rumour, possibly as a deliberate hoax, then failure of people to refute it is taken as evidence that it’s true.”
Conspiracy theorists tend to discount all contrary evidence on the basis that everyone is biased or part of the conspiracy, he added. “I think people have fears and anxieties, maybe a certain amount of free-floating anxiety, and they’re looking for something to attach it to.”
Bouwer denies being delusional. “I’m not a conspiracy theorist. Not at all,” he said. “As a matter of fact, they were about it this morning,” he wrote in an email Thursday. “Look up.”
Sure enough, the sky was streaked with white trails tapering into ominous blankets of haze.