Climate-Themed April Fool's Day Hoaxes
The British Weather Machine.
The Guardian reported that scientists at Britain's research labs in Pershore had "developed a machine to control the weather." A series of articles explained that, "Britain will gain the immediate benefit of long summers, with rainfall only at night, and the Continent will have whatever Pershore decides to send it." Readers were also assured that Pershore scientists would make sure that it snowed every Christmas in Britain. A photograph showed a scruffy-looking scientist surrounded by scientific equipment, with the caption, "Dr. Chisholm-Downright expresses quiet satisfaction as a computer printout announces sunshine in Pershore and a forthcoming blizzard over Marseilles."
Athens Pollution Alert.
Greece's state-controlled National Radio Network issued a warning that pollution had reached emergency levels in downtown Athens, and that the city would have to be immediately evacuated. All schools were called upon to close immediately, and the children to be sent home. Furthermore, anyone driving a car was asked to abandon it and flee to open ground.
Many people took the broadcast seriously and attempted to leave the city, since pollution was (and is) a serious problem in Athens. Within three hours the Radio Network had retracted the broadcast, revealing it to be a joke, but by then the damage had been done. One man sued the network for $820,000, claiming the prank had caused him mental
Hong Kong Powdered Water.
The South China Morning Post announced that a solution to Hong Kong’s water shortage was at hand. First, scientists had found a way to drain the clouds surrounding the island’s peak of their water by electrifying them via antennae erected on the peak. The paper warned that this might have a negative impact on surrounding property values, but the government had approved the project nevetheless. Second, more clouds could be attracted to the region by means of a weather satellite positioned over India. And finally, packets of powdered water imported from China would be distributed to all the residents of Hong Kong. A single pint of water added to this powdered water would magically transform into ten pints of drinkable water.
Hong Kong’s radio shows were flooded with calls from people eager to discuss these solutions to the water shortage. Many of the calls were supportive of the plans, but one woman pointed out that the pumps needed to supply powdered water would be
Earth’s Axis To Be Shifted.
The British Department of Energy ran a full-page ad in the Times and Guardian newspapers announcing that the earth's axis would be shifted at 11:02 a.m. that day in order to warm Britain's climate and conserve energy. The advertisement, which reportedly cost £18,000 to place, included a map of how the earth would look after the shift. At the bottom of the ad appeared the phrase 'April Fuel.' The Department later explained that it placed the ad in order to provoke thought about energy conservation. However, the ad received some criticism. Mr Stan Orme, shadow energy secretary, remarked, "This is an outrageous expenditure of public money. Let us hope this is the last time we see such
Sky Becoming Less Blue.
The British Mail on Sunday announced that the sky was becoming less blue. It cited a five-year study conducted at the Koenraad University in Amsterdam which had used special digital cameras and color charts to measure subtle shifts in the sky's color. The study's researchers had found that the "'coefficient of blueness'... has drastically diminished in five years from 9.3 per cent in 1996 to just 6.9 per cent this year." They attributed this color change to the effects of air pollution and the depleting ozone layer. The article explained, "Particles of airborne pollution are thought to be creating a thick blanket of dirty grey." This blanket of pollution was preventing the 'scattering' of
Day Lost to Stronger Trade Winds.
Nature.com reported a startling discovery made by astronomers. The increasing force of trade winds had slightly accelerated the spin of the Earth. As a consequence the length of the day had decreased over the past century, meaning that the calendar was now inaccurate: "Just as February has an extra day in leap years, we conclude that March ought to have 30 days once every 100 years, not 31… If we start the adjustments this year we should be back on track." In other words, "today should be 2 April, not 1 April."
The Sheep Albedo Hypothesis.
RealClimate.org detailed the work of Dr. Ewe Noh-Watt of the New Zealand Institute of Veterinary Climatology, who had discovered that global warming was caused not by a buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but rather by the decline of New Zealand's sheep population. The reasoning was that sheep are white, and therefore large numbers of sheep increased the planet's albedo (the amount of sunlight reflected back into space). As the sheep population declined, the ground absorbed more solar radiation, thus warming the planet: "It can be seen that the recent warming can be explained entirely by the decline in the New Zealand sheep population, without any need to bring in any mysterious
Mannequins for Climate Justice.
On March 31, a mannequin was found chained to the doors of a Bank of America branch in Boston. The mannequin wore a sign, "The real dummies evict people & fund climate chaos." A group calling itself Mannequins for Climate Justice took responsibility, saying it was getting a head start on Fossil Fools Day, an initiative to use April 1st as a day to mock and resist the fossil fuel industry.
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.