By: Praveen Kumar
March 3 2023
The news about Mexico prohibiting solar geoengineering experiments in the absence of governing rules has been incorrectly linked to 'chemtrails.'
A video of a woman sharing the news update that the Mexican government has decided to ban solar geoengineering in the country has been widely shared on Facebook and Instagram. The woman in the video cites an article from Climate Home News, the headline of which states that the country has taken the step after a "rogue experiment'. The video has text overlaid on it that reads "Mexico is banning chemtrails" and has been shared by several users with captions connecting the development to chemtrails, although the woman in the video does not mention this. "Chemtrails - aka geoengineering," one user wrote, while another iteration said, "Mexico is the first country to stand up to the poison from above."
According to the nonprofit science advocacy organization Union of Concerned Scientists, "Solar geoengineering refers to proposed approaches to cool the Earth by reflecting solar radiation back to space. The two main approaches being researched are stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI) and marine cloud brightening (MCB)." CNBC reported in January 2023 that the idea of releasing aerosols into the atmosphere to cool the Earth is not new, and it has been around since the 1960s. But it had mostly been considered science fiction until recently, as the need to combat climate change has grown significantly.
In January 2023, CNBC reported that a U.S.-based startup Make Sunsets was experimenting with releasing sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere to reflect sunlight back into space and cool the Earth. The report added that the startup planned to launch three latex weather balloons to release about 10 to 500 grams of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere in January. The Verge reported that the startup had conducted similar experiments in Mexico in 2022 and had failed to consult the local authorities. Consequently, the Mexican government cracked down on the startup. On January 13, 2023, the Mexican Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) published a press release saying it would prohibit and stop experimentation practices with solar geoengineering appropriately through inter-institutional coordination with the National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt). The government opposed these "climatic manipulations," citing the U.N. moratorium on large-scale geoengineering, the lack of international agreements that address or supervise solar geoengineering activities, and the precautionary principle and bases established in the Montreal Protocol - the international treaty that promotes the protection of the ozone layer and the fight against climate change.
However, this does not mean that Mexico is banning "chemtrails," which, according to conspiracy theorists, are toxic chemicals sprayed in the air by airplanes to control the weather and people's minds, reduce the population, and spread COVID-19, among other things. These claims are false and have been repeatedly refuted by climate scientists and experts. The hazy white lines left by aircraft in the sky are water-based contrails, and depending on the atmospheric conditions, these trails of condensed water vapor can remain visible in the sky for hours. There is no evidence that they release toxic chemicals to control the population or the weather.
The similarity between contrails, cloud seeding, and solar geoengineering using chemical substances in the atmosphere has led people to associate concepts, innovations, and policies about them with the chemtrails conspiracy theory. Humanities and Social Science Communications, an online peer-reviewed journal, published a study in 2017 examining the association of solar geoengineering with the conspiracy theory of chemtrails and how online discourse portrayed most scientific ideas and news about the topic in a negative light. The study said that mainly conservatives, right-wing politicians, conspiracy theorists, and right-leaning fringe news outlets have contributed to this misinformation propagation in the United States and other countries in the past decade. Chemtrails are not real and have no association with the experiment carried out by Make Sunsets, now banned by Mexico.
The Mexican government opposed geoengineering activities based on its limited science and the absence of international governance regarding those activities. Chemtrails and their use for controlling the weather and people's minds is a conspiracy theory. The premise of solar geoengineering is to combat climate change, and it has nothing to do with chemtrails. Therefore, we mark this claim as misleading.