Cloud seeding and contrails: Do your research


The other day I woke up to a brilliant sky, the color of which made me feel all was not wrong with the world. Mid-morning, two jets flew high over Tomales Bay, leaving white, fluffy trails that slowly spread into the atmosphere. By late morning, the sky was crisscrossed with dispersing trails, and a faint brown hue was visible above the horizon. – Barbara Palmer, Point Reyes Station


Many of us have had the same observations and questions that Ms. Palmer raised in her letter in the July 9 edition. She is describing an atmospheric condition that is readily observable: clouds and cloud banks forming from jet trails. What is going on? 

Mainstream media and weather reporting are quiet on the subjects of geo-engineering, cloud seeding, contrails and weather modification, but the Internet is alive with discussions about manmade weather modifications, mostly through the spraying of aerosols into the atmosphere by jet planes. 

It is generally understood that science is looking on geo-engineering as a strategy to reduce the effects of global climate change. Here is what a December 2014 article, titled “Fact or Fiction: Geoengineering Can Solve Global Warming,” in Scientific American says: “The various sun-blocking schemes could be fast and cheap, like a fleet of airplanes spewing sulfur particles in the stratosphere to mimic the cooling effects of volcanic eruptions or an armada of ships brightening clouds by increasing the number of water droplets within them.”

A report from National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Glenn Research Center has this to say:


Both SO2 (which forms sulfate particles) and soot particles from aircraft exhaust are aerosols—microscopic particles suspended in air. They act like seeds. Water molecules can condense or freeze on them to form cloud particles. 

Aircraft exhaust produces contrails—condensation trails in the atmosphere about five miles above the Earth’s surface. At these high altitudes, contrails and cirrus clouds form depending on the quantity of water vapor and atmospheric conditions.

Contrails and cirrus clouds both reflect sunlight that would otherwise warm the Earth’s surface. At the same time, they absorb heat from the ground instead of allowing it to escape. 

Contrails contribute to the phenomenon known as “global change.” Right now this effect is small, but it is growing... Over the past 40 years, cloudiness seems to have increased. If this is in fact true, then this continual increase in cloudiness may lead to global climate change because it will change the amount of radiation entering and leaving the Earth’s atmosphere. This characteristic of aircraft engine exhaust may act in a way similar to the effects produced by greenhouse gases.”


NASA doesn’t say it is spraying aerosols here. So far there has been no official account saying the spraying of sulphur and aluminum (or worse) is occurring. But watchdog groups have plenty to say, and much of it is plausible. A group called Global Research comments: “In recent years there has been a decline in the support for weather modification research, and a tendency to move directly into operational projects.” 

Clive Hamilton, an Australian professor of public ethics, has written a well documented book, “Earthmasters: The Dawn of the Age of Climate Engineering,” which traces the history of this emerging science. The contrails and cloud-seeding strategies are well explained, as are proposals to save the planet from climate change.

All this is helpful in understanding those dullish streaks that turn into clouds that turn into cloud banks that block the sun and lower the amount of sunlight that reaches us. 

Is the intentional spraying of sulphur, aluminum and other substances into our sky used to modify local and global weather patterns? Do your own research to find the answer. And if there is intentional spraying into the atmosphere, under whose jurisdiction does regulation and governance lie? Some argue that the air we breathe is an inalienable right, not a commodity to be engineered by government and private enterprise. Please, ask these questions and do your own research.


Steve Quirt has lived in West Marin for 40 years. He recently crossed over the border into Sebastopol.