Maltese anti-vaxxers turn to another conspiracy trial: chemtrails

Paul Chetcuti, who once claimed to have natural cures against COVID, now wants the government to investigate airline contrails, which he insists are chemicals sprayed into the air

Paul Chetcuti, COVID-sceptic and anti-vaxxer, is now mounting a chemtrails conspiracy theory
Paul Chetcuti, COVID-sceptic and anti-vaxxer, is now mounting a chemtrails conspiracy theory

Paul R. Chetcuti, the self-styled leader of Malta’s anti-vax motley crew of demonstrators, has a new conspiracy theory to vent.

He once said government measures to control the ‘false’ COVID pandemic were “unconstitutional”, “against human rights”, and even “state terrorism”.

Now he wants the Maltese state to investigate the contrails left in the skies by airliners, a conspiracy once embraced by the Gaia Foundation, the environmental NGO led by another COVID-sceptic, Rodolfo Ragonesi.

In a statement from the ‘Freedom Movement’, Chetcuti insisted that the passing planes leaving these contrails were not “normal” airliners, and neither simple condensation when the airplane passes through a cooler area.

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“Others are questioning if they are chemtrails or cloud seeds – geoengineering to alter weather – that we are suspecting that they are,” Chetcuti said, who filed a report at the Hamrun police station to request an investigation into what he claims are ‘chemical trails’. But Chetcuti was rebuffed by police who said they were unable to investigate an airborne incident that is beyond their jurisdiction.

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“The sole alternative we have in hand is to write these concerns and sending them to all Maltese representatives in parliament... to open up an investigation and respond to Maltese and Gozitan answers in the name of democracy,” Chetcuti said.

“Are they special planes that are equipped with specific materials/liquids for a specific mission related to climax [sic] change? What type of materials/chemicals are they leaving behind

The word “chemtrails” has been linked to conspiracy theories sinister forces believed to be spraying the population with dangerous chemicals for purposes that are neither entirely clear nor consistent.

While the theory has long been in circulation, the BBC notes that a surge in conspiratorial thinking following the COVID pandemic along with the summer travel season and clear skies mean “the once obscure chemtrails theory is now being promoted by major influencers.”

Far from sinister, condensation trails, or contrails, are simply what happens when the chemistry of burning jet fuel meets the chemistry of air. Contrails are formed when water vapour and fine soot particulates from burning jet fuel freeze into ice crystals. In higher humidity, they do not immediately dissipate and can be seen as visible vapour trails.

The idea that shadowy forces are spraying the planet with chemicals took hold in the 1990s.

Initially, believers claimed sprays containing a toxic metal, barium, were being used to either pacify or reduce populations.

But the idea evolved along the way, meaning today there are several strands of the chemtrail theory. False allegations have trended so frequently this year that fact-checking charity Full Fact has posted 10 debunks since April.