Something in the air
Local chemtrail conspiracy theorists say those aren't clouds

Jet contrails are seen crossing the evening sky in Durango on Sunday. A group of locals believes the contrails are actually harmful chemicals that are deliberately emitted by low-flying, unmarked planes as part of a covert government operation./Photo by Amy Maestas.

Vi McCoy’s Animas Valley home has vaulted ceilings and huge picture windows that allow grand views of grazing wildlife and Missionary Ridge. The windows tower to her rooftop and open up to the Durango sky, which she observes intently – not because she’s a student of the atmosphere, but because she believes there is something ominous taking place up there.

Every day, McCoy, a semi-retired, health-food supplement salesperson, looks skyward and takes note of the azure saturation, the clouds and the aircraft activity. Her observations, however subjective, sound like an episode of the X-Files. Often, McCoy sees a clear blue sky in the morning. Yet by midday she says she watches airplanes criss-cross the sky, with white streaks trailing, making precise patterns so that the streaks drift together, and a vast haze covers the sky.

Most people refer to the white streaks as contrails – a melded word from condensation trails. They often trail commercial and military jets that fly at cruising altitudes in the upper atmosphere and are a result of water vapor in aircraft engine exhaust mixing with low temperatures. Scientists for the Federal Aviation Administration explain that the mixture creates ice particles. If the humidity is low, the ice particles evaporate quickly. If the humidity is high, the particles might persist and grow to form wispy white cirrus clouds.

For the lay person, this seems a simple enough explanation. But to McCoy – and some other local residents – it’s a bunch of hooey. McCoy claims some streaks often are deliberately and methodically emitted by low-flying, unmarked military aircraft spewing harmful chemicals into the air as part of a covert government operation. These chemicals, she and others like her believe, are responsible for a passel of problems ranging from weird weather and drought to unexplained illness.

McCoy says she and her husband, Lee, first became aware of “chemtrails” – a phenomenon considered a conspiracy theory – about seven years ago. Initially, they were skeptical. But when they moved to Durango in 1998, McCoy says she suddenly began witnessing the aircraft activity often associated with this phenomenon. Then she and her husband, who consider themselves healthy, were getting sick more often. She says their immune systems weakened. During the summers, they’d work in their yard, yet by mid-afternoon they’d feel weak and tired, presumably from breathing the chemicals from the planes they watch.

When her husband had a respiratory illness for four months earlier this year, McCoy became more convinced that Durango was increasingly under attack by chemtrails.

At the same time, there was a reported flu outbreak in Durango, and she heard more people complaining of respiratory problems and allergies. McCoy couldn’t help but wonder if the illnesses were from the chemtrails.

Last month, McCoy started inquiring medical professionals about any extraordinary respiratory cases, especially since she says the chemical spraying had been heavy. She’s skeptical about the general responses, because she’s so certain that there is a link given the widespread anecdotes from chemtrail followers they posted on the Internet. One report even mentioned that hospitals were beginning to be “jammed” on days the chemtrails filled skies.

Kirk Dignum, chief executive officer of Mercy Medical Center, said the hospital beds were full at times in the past few months, with many cases of respiratory illness, but he can’t connect that to anything specific.

“We did have some unusual cases this summer, but we had the fires and some other things happening in the community,” he says.

Dr. Don Cooke, a Durango allergy and asthma specialist, says there has been an increase, both locally and nationally, in the number of people suffering from the diseases he treats. But he says it’s a result of the “hygiene hypothesis,” which states that children are being raised in too sterile of environments, thus pushing the immune system toward allergy and asthma.

He also said it’s hard to isolate the cause of viruses or respiratory problems. “These things tend to be episodic,” he says.

Clifford Carnicom,  a Santa Fe, N.M., computer consultant, often wears a ventilator mask when venturing outside to protect himself from deadly chemicals that he believes are released into the air./Photo courtesy Clifford Carnicom.‘Show of power’

Though McCoy says she doesn’t keep a log of how often she sees chemtrails, she claims it’s as often as a few days each week. She believes that whoever is spraying the chemicals keeps track of when they do.

“There were no signs of chemtrails on Veteran’s Day this year,” she says. “That ought to explain that our government knows about this.”

But she says when she saw unmarked aircraft spraying chemicals in our skies during the Missionary Ridge Fire, she snapped. At that point, McCoy decided to take action. To start, she worked to bring Clifford Carnicom, a Santa Fe, N.M., computer consultant, to Durango to speak about chemtrails.

Carnicom spoke to a crowd of nearly 60 people at The Storehouse Baptist Church, 10 miles south of Durango on November 16. After his lecture, he spent the night at the McCoy’s house. When the household awoke the next morning, they saw every bit of proof in the sky to prove this phenomenon is happening here.

While planes flew above the Animas Valley at mid-day, McCoy watched the sky turn from clear blue to a cloudy haze. As he emerged from the McCoy’s home, Carnicom put on a ventilator mask to avoid breathing the chemicals he believed were in the air. His wife, Carol, says he wears it as often as possible, especially outdoors.

“They did this yesterday, and then today they kept it up all day long until there was no blue left,” McCoy says about the aircraft. “They say that’s what happens when Clifford speaks somewhere. They hit that community really hard the next day. This (haze) will just sit here for hours and hours now.”

But by 7:30 p.m., the hazy sky looked clear. You could see the nearly full moon and several stars. When asked about the apparent clearing, McCoy says she believes the haze was still there but was just “being masked by the moon.”

(Nurses and administrators at Mercy’s pulmonary clinic, emergency room, and the employee health coordinator said there was not an onslaught of patients with respiratory problems following this weekend of heavy spraying that McCoy says took place.)

The days following Carnicom’s lecture, Durango’s skies were almost always clear and bright blue. Asked again about the clear skies and her claims, McCoy said she wasn’t backing off. “They are doing weird things,” she said. “This is a show of power.”

Stormy weather

Carnicom, who prefers the term “aerosol sprays,” has been studying the phenomenon since 1999, when the idea gained significant popularity. His lecture in Durango mostly addressed the scientific evidence he’s amassed that he believes proves not every white streak in the sky is a contrail.

Throughout the lecture, Carnicom maintained a diplomatic tone, being careful not to make it sound like his evidence is absolute. Although he believes the chemical spraying is purposeful, he rarely hypes the nebulous claims about why it’s being done; he appears to be the reality-based populist to the audience’s hysteria. But he wasn’t able to hide his emotional investment in the issue.

“Your storms are being torn apart right and left,” he tells the crowd while choking back tears.

Among his scientific results, which he posts on his personal website, Carnicom finds that the relative humidity at altitudes the aircraft are flying do not support the conditions scientists say create clouds. He says that he’s found metallic evidence in rainwater and also has found pH levels 20 to 25 times greater than expected in rainwater. In microscopic samples of particles, Carnicom says he has found barium ions and what he thinks might be dried red blood cells. But he has difficulty nailing down the true nature of the particles, because he says a government lab and a private lab refused to look at them.

Going forward

Scientists from government agencies are familiar with the chemtrail conspiracy theory. Officials at the Federal Aviation Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Air Force, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration have been inundated with questions on the subject. This prompted them to create fact sheets explaining how contrails are formed and debunk the plethora of myths of what they term a “hoax.”

NASA even has done extensive studies on the effects contrails have on the weather and atmosphere, particularly since aircraft fuel contains sulfur particles. Patrick Minnins, a NASA researcher, says that at least in the last 30 years, the skies haven’t been as clear in the United States, which he suspects is due to an increase in cirrus clouds likely formed from increased air traffic.

Some scientists have taken to perusing chemtrail websites, trying to become familiar with the claims, though many don’t even want to respond to the conspiracy theory because they don’t want to feed it.

David Fahey, a research physicist at NASA’s Aeronomy Lab in Boulder, says he has looked at some chemtrail Web sites and studied their scientific evidence. He walks away unconvinced.

“What these people are seeing are contrails in the real sense of the word,” he says.

“You can’t resolve this in a simple conversation. “The thing that frustrates us at the scientific level is that the due scientific process is not adhered to. People who are vocalizing about (chemtrails) are interested in the outcome. So they work backwards and assemble bits and pieces of information along the way. The true due scientific process goes forward.”

Carnicom, frustrated at yet another brush-off by a government scientist, says such general statements are “lame and skirt the issue.” He simply wants scientists to consider all of his evidence and then provide their own concrete proof that what he sees really are simply contrails.

Contrails criss-cross the sky in this photo taken by Vi McCoy outside her home earlier this fall.Power struggle

Stripped of its wilder variants, the purported reasons for chemtrail spraying – whether it’s the U.S. government or a foreign government doing it – are to modify the DNA of humans, to modify the weather or to eradicate a certain segment of the population, namely the sick and elderly.

As a sailor and mountaineering guide, Brock Canner, who attended Carnicom’s lecture, says he often predicted weather based on the sky. But since 1998 it’s been an unreliable source, he says, and is getting worse as the alleged activity increases to achieve its purpose.

“We have a conspiracy running our government,” says Canner. “This is part of the plan to take over the population.”

Canner and several other chemtrail believers say this phenomenon is part of a New World Order, which is a worldwide conspiracy purportedly being orchestrated by many of the world’s wealthiest people, top political leaders and corporate elite, to create a global fascist government that will have control of the planet. They also believe chemtrails fulfill the establishment’s efforts to gain mind control over the masses – and that the chemicals are used to “dumb down” people’s mental acuity so they do not realize what’s happening or won’t care.

“Everyone knows the New World Order is coming, but no one knows who will be in power,” says Kevin Rizza, a computer teacher who attended Carnicom’s lecture. “(Chemtrails) are part of this larger thing.”

McCoy agrees. As senior citizens, she also sees herself and her husband as sitting ducks.

“We are on Social Security, and they want to get rid of us so they don’t have to give it to us,” she says.

Dick Carmack, pastor of the Storehouse Baptist Church, said the church sponsored Carnicom’s lecture as an effort to educate the general public.

“People need to know what’s going on instead of looking at their feet and ignoring it,” he says.

The church was a natural sponsor, because there is religious meaning in this conspiracy, he said. Before Carnicom’s lecture, Carmack preached to the audience about the biblical signs of the last days, quoting scripture about pestilence. What’s happening in our skies, they believe, is a fulfillment of Revelation, a book of apocalypse in the New Testament that speaks of victory over evil and persecution.

“I think (chemtrails) is probably a man-made pestilence, like most of them are,” says Carmack. “I’m sure I’m going to come out sounding like a right-wing wacko, but that’s alright.”

Mobilizing the masses

McCoy says the issue has generated enough interest to begin trying to create a local activist group, even though the believers know they are part of a minority. They are increasingly frustrated that the government ignores their questions, that doctors may be lying about the cause of illnesses and that the media won’t cover the issue. And even though there are scores of scientific reports about the causes and effects of contrails, with evidence contrary to chemtrails, the believers counter that the naysayers are either apathetic or proof that the government is succeeding in mind control.

“It’s called plausible deniability,” Rizza grouses. “People around here are too lazy to get off their mountain bikes or out of their kayaks to care.”

McCoy agrees that it’s hard to mobilize the masses. But she says she cares enough about Durango to try, even though she swore she’d “get out of politics” when she moved here. She said she won’t give up on the chemtrails phenomenon until someone provides empirical evidence to the contrary.

But what counts as proof if you don’t believe the government, the media or the doctors?

“You have your own proof; you have your own answers,” she replies.






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