Flat-Earther Protest: Climate Change More Credible than Round Earth

Photograph by David McNew/Getty Images

Randy Kern, left, and John Rice dress as Star Wars characters for their own annual snapshot tradition near an unofficial thermometer at Furnace Creek Visitors Center reading of 131 degrees, believed by officials to be about three degrees on the high side, as a heat wave spreads across the American West on June 30, 2013 in Death Valley National Park, California.

The members of the Flat Earth Society have a message for President Barack Obama:

We’re not a punchline.

In a climate-change speech last week filled with poetic imagery of astronauts’ view of Earth and pledges to protect generations to come, Obama took a cutting swipe at skeptics of global warming.

“We don’t have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society,” Obama said in his address at Georgetown University on June 25, referring to those who want to debate the scientific links between carbon dioxide and global warming.

It turns out there really is a Flat Earth Society, complete with 421 members, an internal messaging system, Twitter feed and, even, T-shirts for sale. And the London-based group was none too pleased to be lumped in with those few scientists or politicians who deny that burning fossil fuels is causing the Earth’s temperature to rise.

The group’s listserv lit up with commentators parsing what Obama said, and pondering what he has against those who say Earth is shaped like a pizza pan, not a soccer ball.

“Barack Obama lied about the Flat Earth Society not believing in climate change,” the group tweeted to the account @BarackObama on the day of the speech.

As its pleas for the White House to stop using it as a “rhetorical whipping boy” went unanswered, the group tried again three days later, telling @whitehouse:

It’s not hard to see why Obama chose a group with an anachronistic view of science as a stand-in for critics of global warming: Just like those skeptical of global warming, Flat Earth adherents portray themselves as critical of a scientific consensus that doesn’t comport with the evidence. “The evidence for a flat earth is derived from many different facets of science and philosophy,” the group says in a FAQ section on its Web-site.

“The simplest is by relying on ones own senses to discern the true nature of the world around us. The world looks flat, the bottoms of clouds are flat, the movement of the sun; these are all examples of your senses telling you that we do not live on a spherical heliocentric world.”

Unlike those skeptical of climate science, flat earthers must first contend with the obvious question of whether they are joking. No, they maintain (straight-faced) on their Web-site. If they are a joke, they are like Stephen Colbert, never breaking character to let us in on the act. They have devoted pages and pages of cyberspace to detailed evidence of the facts.

(The group’s president, Daniel Shenton, didn’t return telephone and e-mail messages — though you can read his own tweets on this matter.)

That’s not to say that those holding these views don’t understand that they are in the minority, as they advised @whitehouse on June 28.



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