Thursday, June 08, 2017

My month with chemtrails conspiracy theorists

[The Guardian] Standing between beds of golden beets and elephant garlic in the garden of Lincoln Hills, a small organic farm in Placer County, California, Tammi Riedl looks up and points to a stripe of white haze running across a cloudless blue sky.
“See that?” she asks, raising her eyebrows. “What do you think that is?”
I look up. The white stripe looks like a normal contrail of jet engine exhaust to me. But to Tammi, a 54 year-old organic farmer, it’s a “chemtrail”: a toxic cocktail of aluminum, strontium and barium sprayed from planes in a plot to control the weather, the population and our food supply.
“See how it dissipates and becomes cloud cover?” she says. “That’s not normal.”
I nod, unsure how to respond to this unexpected declaration, and Tammi resumes demonstrating how to cover crop rows with frost blankets.
For the month of January, in an attempt to escape seasonal and post-election depression, I applied to work as a part-time farmhand at Lincoln Hills in exchange for room and board after spotting the arrangement advertised on the website HelpX.
To someone accustomed to New York City’s mouse-infested apartments, the farm was cartoonishly idyllic: on 10 acres in the Sierra Nevada foothills, sheep graze on blackberry bushes, a baby mule frolics, and free-range chickens pluck worms from compost heaps. But for the residents who subscribe to the chemtrails conspiracy theory, what looks like a perfect bucolic scene feels shrouded in danger.
Tammi and her boyfriend, Rob Neuhauser, are among the estimated 5% of Americans who believe that various global powers, including the US government, run clandestine and harmful chemical-spraying programs.
Versions of the chemtrails (or “covert geoengineering”) theory abound, and Tammi’s goes roughly like this: to mitigate global warming, mysterious airplanes spray chemicals into the atmosphere to form sun-blocking artificial cloud cover. This is done in secret, because these chemicals wreak havoc on environmental and human health, causing “Alzheimer’s, all sorts of brain problems, cancer”, she says.
Despite her adherence to USDA organic guidelines, Tammi fears that the chemical spraying means the produce she sells and donates to the Placer Food Bank isn’t technically organic. “It makes me think, ‘Wow, are we going to have to start growing everything indoors, under tunnels?’” she says. “Because the air is not healthy for crops.” Read More