|The Skies Above Me
I am sitting beside a lake in Northern California and the sky is an open blue canvas as far to the left and right of me as I can see; but it is smeared with graffiti and it is the wrong shade of blue, dull and pale. Just few years ago it would have been turquoise from where I am sitting and only cumulus clouds might have hung low, seeming almost tangible behind the ridges on the other side of the lake. The rest of that open dome would have been nothing but solid aqua-blue, a shade that is almost beyond description. I fell in love with that sky when we came here to live nearly ten years ago, deeply, crazy in love.
On February 14th, I sat in the front row at a conference on geoengineering at the 2015 AAAS meeting in San Jose, California. I watched a panel of scientists and one law professor each take his turn in a sort of performance that made no sense to me. On his way in, Alan Robock of Rutgers University went out of his way to say to a group of activists in front of the convention center, “I don’t know what you’re all protesting. It’s nothing but water vapor.” This is the man who, in 2008, wrote “20 Reasons Why Geoengineering May Be a Bad Idea”. During the conference he made it a point to say that the reason those of us in Northern California notice these trails so much more than other people and think they are a problem is because our sky is so blue.
Dear Alan: Our sky was “so blue”. The trails you claim are nothing but water vapor are spreading out all over our sky and they’re not only dimming the sun but are completely changing its color to a silvery blue.
What I’m struggling to understand is why people would go along with this. As I type, there are almost 20,000 signatures on a petition I wrote several months ago, and those people all see what isreally happening. Their comments are from the heart. They miss the sun. They miss their natural sky. Their children have breathing problems. For me, looking at this smeared mess over my head feels the same as when I am in a place of natural beauty and the rocks are sprayed with graffiti or there is trash on the ground. No matter what the words are or the wrapper that has been left behind, it says, “Disrespectful man was here.”
Who would invent a concept like deliberately spraying pollution into the sky? What kind of mind conceives an idea this horrible and says to someone, “Hey, we could intentionally pollute the sky and make fake clouds so that we can go on polluting the atmosphere with greenhouse gases for as long as we want. We could even control the weather!” What kind of people sit around the table in the planning room, nod their heads and reply, “Say, that’s a swell idea!”? Haven’t these people ever gone hiking? Have they ever paddled a canoe? Are they people who don’t know the silky feel of a baby’s hair beneath their fingertips? Are they people who don’t see the beauty in a child’s smile when he crosses a finish line and can still breathe? Or is the feeling of a paycheck being pressed into their palms the only thing that makes their heart race a little faster, or pulls their smile a little broader?
It is a beautiful plan, really. First, we were all programmed to think that only those who join the clubs, play for the team, fight for our country, or drink with the frat are “normal”. Those of us who crouched in the woods, dug in the dirt, collected pine cones, insects and objects other than shells on the beach were the weirdos. Most human beings attend ceremonies, follow traditions, perform rituals, stand in line, and fail to question because that is what has been expected of us all our lives. The television writes our script for existence in the modern world. The newscasters tell us only what they’re permitted to say, and we are programmed to blindly accept only that which is “officially” published by certain “credible” institutions or academic authors.
Enter the word that separates the crowd: “Chemtrails”. It is pulled out like a hand puppet to create social exclusion. It manufactures instant division: the Us Team and the Them Team of the world’s skywatchers. The Us Team thinks what is being done to the sky is insanity. We are watching the trees die from chemicals and lack of full sunlight. Some of us are aware of the raspy laugh or hoarse-sounding cough that had its onset when the spraying started above us. For others, the health consequences have been worse.
The Them Team is a mystery to me. Were they forced to wear bow ties at private school somewhere, to stand in line just a little too quietly when they wanted to run around on the playground instead? When they were children, were they forced into submission by an overly stern parent? Or are they just plain insane? Who would do this to our planet or go along with doing it to the only Earth we have? Who would turn a blind eye to what is happening and instantly tack on the title “Chemtrailer” to every person who questions the blatant mess that is intentionally being created daily by jet aircraft? What kind of person would publish a children’s book, a movie, a photograph, or a computer game that subtly sells this concept by incorporating it into the artwork? Who are these people, and how in the name of God did I end up on the same planet with them?
Several times a day, I go out and walk the circumference of my above-ground swimming pool, looking for bumble bees to save from drowning in the water. Most of the time I scoop them up with my bare hands because they seem to somehow know I’m there to help. I place them as gently as I can onto the lavender plants and hope they can hear the others and recover. If they are faltering, I tell them they must try harder and I nudge them to flutter their wings so they will dry sooner. They are a gift. They are something the Them Team would not understand. They were something I overlooked most of my life until they disappeared. In the spring of 2013, only a couple of weeks after I saw the first group of jets spray an aerosol haze above my house, the bumble bees vanished. Every other insect on our property soon disappeared as well. By August of that year, the pool was devoid of insects and the porch light glowed moth-free, a ghostly reminder of what was being destroyed. I knew it was the trails. But I am just a “chemtrailer”. What do I know?
The Them Team has used their social exclusion tactics to draw a line in the sand so they can go on about the business of lying or denying. I think it’s some of both, and I think the people on that team have many different agendas. By pulling out the label and plastering it around, some of them get to stand on a tiny pedestal and do what I call The Academic Chuckle when they deem it appropriate. They get to publicly make fun of thousands of people who have eyes they trust and children they are concerned about. They get to destroy the world while pretending they’re saving it, and hundreds of people are going right along with them by not having the scrotal fortitude to stand up to them and their ready-made label. (Politicians are included in this long list of cowards.)
Geoengineering is happening. The government is manipulating the weather. Very wealthy people and corrupt corporations have a tremendous amount to gain from pushing California into a drought. Giant pharmaceutical companies are making millions on people with depressed immune systems and asthma. Welcome to America, everyone. Land of the oblivious, home of the cowardly. This is why the Them Team is getting away with it.
People want to be part of something. They don’t want to face social exclusion. They don’t want to be ridiculed. They don’t want to hear the Academic Chuckle and be on the wrong side of it. But there was a time when most of the world thought the earth was flat and people who thought it was round were laughed at, a time when Galileo was punished for his views on heliocentrism. Rachel Carson was publicly ridiculed when she warned of the dangers of DDT. Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis was scorned for his suggestion that doctors wash their hands in a sanitizing solution before delivering babies in order to prevent childbed fever; and Louis Pasteur’s ideas were met with skepticism. What aspect of the human mind makes it so resistant to new concepts, so unable to rise to the challenge of facing existing problems? How hard is it to look up at the sky and see what is happening? How hard is it to see that the trees are dying?
If I cared what other people thought, I wouldn’t be writing this. Oh, sure, we all do to an extent, but there are some of us who were just born to pour the poison Kool-Aid down the drain and say, “Not for me!” When I was four years old, I went to nursery school in a section of the First United Methodist Church, and I knew what was beyond the door in the baby room. It led into the rest of the building and ultimately to the church sanctuary. Every so often, my grandmother would drag me reluctantly to Sunday services and feed me pink mint candy to keep me quiet, so I remembered seeing the sanctuary with its silky blue cushions and looming stained-glass windows. I was determined to find my way to it. I convinced about four other kids to join the caper. We sneaked through the nursery room door and skipped through the dark warren of hallways until we came to the light, and we exploded with giggles in that lofty, enormous room. Without a congregation, it had a beautiful dreamlike quality and it never occurred to me that I was breaking a rule. I only knew that I was on adventure and we had reached our destination. The punishment turned out to be better than the crime itself, for we were sentenced to help prepare lunches in the deepest, darkest part of the church with Mrs. Brezina for a week straight. She was the kindest jailer imaginable and her kitchen was tucked into a forgotten grotto that was as interesting as it was neglected.
Those of us who recruit others to sneak off to find a beautiful place that resides in our memory are the kinds of people who don’t join clubs. We follow only rules that matter and we step out of line. Out of curiosity we play with the water squirter in the dentist chair when nobody is looking. We think for ourselves. We became accustomed long ago to being called names because we’ve always been different, so as a tactic of psychological manipulation, calling us names doesn’t really work. The Them Team can try as hard as it wants to. It’s not going to back us down and make us think, “Good heavens, someone is disdainfully lumping us into a category so we’d better shut up and go on about the business of fitting in.” Did Rachel Carson try to fit in? Semmelweis? Galileo? No, they did what they thought was right despite extreme opposition by their peers. They might not have had happy endings, but they all played a significant role in exposing the truth.
There was brilliance in contorting the word “chemtrails” so that it immediately triggers an emotional response in certain people. It has bought the Them Team time. In just two syllables it creates an obstacle. For people who believe in the established order of things, still believe our government is working for the greater good, and don’t like to buck the system, there is that word like a comfortable old jacket ready to be slipped on to protect them from the truth: “The chemtrail people must be wrong because they are associated with a detestable word that makes them sound nuts.” And then they pull the jacket around them a little tighter. It is a convenient way out. Score one for the Them Team. They just got more time to carry on with their nasty deeds.
Human behavior is baffling. When did people become so out of touch with the natural world that they can’t look up at the sky and see that things are just not right? When did seemingly intelligent people lose their ability to use reason? Scientists are “proposing” the very thing we are witnessing, and yet people are letting themselves be manipulated by one simple two-syllable word so that they are completely unable to see the truth hiding in plain sight.
The reality is, if our planetary situation is so dire that spraying a layer of pollution into the atmosphere is our only hope, people need to know. And if spraying aerosols into the atmosphere is putting millions of dollars into the pockets of big businesses and allowing companies to keep polluting for the almighty dollar, people need to know. If our governments are manipulating the weather, whatever the reason, people need to know.
There is no Us Team and Them Team. We are all riding on a relatively small ship in a very big universe, and it’s dangerously close to sinking and taking us with it. That human tendency to think there is a big fix, that we can pull out all the stops in the end and save the day, is just wrong. We can’t. It’s time for everyone to face what is happening because, at this point, the truth is our only hope.
Lisa Thomas, Nevada County, California, May 2015