How Peter Gleick’s skullduggery killed my April Fools posting

Readers may recall that I love a good April Fools story, such as the one I did about Low Flow Fire Hydrants in my town in the name of “sustainability”. It worked so well that I had even suckered in a city council member with the story.

I had planned an elaborate April Fool’s posting this year. The object of such was California’s overzealous edicts on environmentalism foisted on the public by agencies such as CARB. My subject was the twisty bulb, and the movement to replace filament bulbs. My target was the most famous filament bulb ever, the one in the firehouse in Livermore, CA which has been burning for over a century, dubbed “The Centennial Bulb

Huell Howser films the Centennial Bulb for an episode of "California's Gold".

My plan for this April Fool’s column was thought up about a year ago. But ever since Gleick launched “fakegate” I just couldn’t do it, even in jest. His scummy self serving deceptions foisted on journalists (who lapped it up without question) have left such a bad taste in my mouth that I couldn’t bring myself to follow through with a simple prank designed to be fun, entertaining, and in the spirit of April Fools day.

Here’s what my April Fools prank was going to be.

I had planned to write a column about how an NGO had sprung up called “No Light Bulb Left Behind” whose mission was total replacement of all incandescent bulbs in California with the slogan “Helping California make the switch to energy efficiency”. I even registered a domain name to give legitimacy to the prank: nolightbulbleftbehind.org

The plan was to make up this website with convincing environmental slogans and twisty bulb imagery in the style of “feel good environmentalism” that we’ve seen time and again.

The other part was to make up a funny press release and post it on that website where they supposedly convinced the City of Livermore to retire the “centennial bulb” and replace it with a twisty bulb to show that it was “time to retire the old ways”, then write about it here at WUWT in the style of “can you believe this?”. I figured a number of people would believe this and actually applaud the idea, because even crazier things are being done in California today in the name of sustainability and environmentalism; CARB’s carbon trading program for example.

But after Gleick’s dastardly deception in the name of environmentalism followed by his self immolation for “the cause” I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t bring myself to make up even this small prank for the purpose of entertaining everyone. All my well laid April Fools plans went into the bit-bucket.

So that’s why I have no April Fools story. I’m sorry. (Apparently though Stefan Rahmstorf at RealClimate has no such compunctions about making up some science though.)

I’m back traveling again today, and moderation will be sporadic. I’m treating a number of my moderation staff and contributors to a nice dinner tonight. For those of you moderating in far away lands, and on the other side of the USA, you have my sincerest thanks and best wishes. Your presence will be sorely missed, and I hope to be able to make it up to you someday.

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63 thoughts on “How Peter Gleick’s skullduggery killed my April Fools posting

  1. “Readers may recall that I love a good April Fools story, such as the one I did about Low Flow Fire Hydrants in my town in the name of “sustainability”. It worked so well that I had even suckered in a city council member with the story.”

    Wait.

    That was a joke?

    I hate this time of the year.

  2. Curiously enough, the Google Ad I see is for Bulborama (not Bulbobama) the “Long Life Light Bulb Superstore.”

    Please excuse this copy of a comment on the Open thread:

    The Heartland Institute announces a new plan for keeping their documents private. In the future, they will send only hardcopy to their board members printed on a new printer they acquired today

    http://www.thinkgeek.com/stuff/looflirpa/shrinter.shtml

  3. I hope you and the moderators and contributors have a fabulous dinner and well-deserved fun.

    I am still smarting over being taken in by your low flow fire hydrants story. That was a classic and still merits a chuckle! Your abandoned scheme likewise would have raised ire and appreciation in equal measure. Thanks for sharing.

  4. What’s the state of play with the self-confessed con-artist (Gleick)?

    Hasn’t he be charged yet?

    If not, why not?

  5. Arthur Dent says:
    April 1, 2012 at 10:16 am
    “A rather heavy handed April fool post at Real Climate – ”

    Rahmstorf must play it very obvious lest it gets confused with his regular publications.

  6. It must be hard for RealClimate regulars on April Fool’s Day. I mean: how does that site top all the other bullshit that is spouted over the other 364 days? Whatever they do, it’ll be lapped up by the faithful. And those savvy readers on the lookout for a seasonal gag won’t know which story is the culprit. It’s ripe for faux pas: “Oh, I’m sorry Kenny. You were being serious when you said the missing heat was hidden in the oceans and is storing up for an apocalyptic enormous hot sea-guff? My bad.”

  7. @DirkH says : I hear whale blubber is a renewable resource….
    Wouldn´t it be better if they use excess fat extracted from environmentalists? It would fight obesity too (which is on the same liberal list of goals to be attained). :-)

  8. Gosh-darn, Anthony, it would’ve been great! I, for one, definitely would have fallen for it because as you said, nothing is too weird for those people. Not only would’ve a lot of people bought it, but you would have had numpties lining up for memebership. I don’t see any connection with such a prank to Gleick. Gleick stole and most likely forged for a type of a gain. He certainly wasn’t going to yell out, “April Fools!” after his shtik. I thinkyour prank would have been a grat teaching moment about how gullible we have become. Hang on to the URL and pull it next year; we’re all getting older and will have forgotten about this article anyway!

  9. Your point is understood and is well taken. Worth sitting out this year. Can’t wait to read Rahmstorf’s latest creation in the meantime.
    But seriously, there was plenty of earth day fodder from last night!
    I look fwd to 01 APR 2013, however.

    Kurt in Switzerland

  10. Kim2000,

    That’s pretty funny. I like: “When they get to about 8 feet they prefer bigger prey, something about the size of a pig or a dog or a small child.” Then he went even crazier after that. The guy’s pushing the credulity envelope with such stuf, but I bet many people still bought it right until he gives the game away in the end. Good find for a good laugh and congrats on your new website.

  11. <DirkH says:
    April 1, 2012 at 10:41 am
    I hear whale blubber is a renewable resource.

    ROFLMAO! It sure is. Seal blubber is too, and many species are not endangered and some can be “ranched” in a way. Especially those cute, tear-eyed baby Harp Seals with the beautiful fur…another sustainable resource. Feed those with dolphins killed by tuna nets and the occasional Panda for dietary variety. Perfect way to make the Greenies insane and distracted with rage. Maybe they’ll forget about the Polar Bears and CAGW.

  12. The funniest high profile April Fool’s joke I happened to hear while innocently driving along ~4/1/04 was Sean Hannity declaring on his radio show that he’d seen the light and had become a Liberal*. He played it totally straight for as long as I listened and there were many Liberals calling in to thank and congratulate him. Word of the good news must have been getting around. Meanwhile, Hannity was hilarious. He repeated all the usual Liberal memes perfectly and showed absolutely no sign of it being a joke.

    *a Liberal as opposed to a Classical Liberal

  13. When one of my incandescent spotlights in our family room went out about seven years ago, I thought I’d try replacing both spotlights with CFLs. I hate those CFLs. Although CFL’s have probably improved a lot since then, these CFLs take a LONNNGGG time to reach maximum brightness and one of them is noticeably brighter than the other. I don’t use them often enough to get my large stepladder out to replace them (I still have incandescent replacement bulbs in the drawer). Maybe someday, they’ll be worth something. (Sigh)

  14. 1) You can not apologize, for not trying to make fools of others.
    2) I don’t believe a word of your story.
    3) I will regret this comment in the morning :)

  15. Sorry Anthony, an April fools gag is probably a waste of time anyway at the moment. It would be completely lost in amongst all the Rio run up material.

  16. If it wasn’t for CARB, we’d still have 2nd and 3rd stage smog alerts in the Los Angeles Basin, something that hasn’t occurred for over 15 years now. Anyone who remembers those days has no desire to bring them back. The massive improvements in air quality are directly due to automobile emissions restrictions instituted by CARB.

    That’s not to say that every regulation they promulgate is perfect, but unrestrained capitalism is certainly not the answer.

    Tell me you look forward to not being able to run 60 feet without stopping to catch your breath and I’ll invent a time machine so you can travel back to the 70’s and 80’s and experience it yourself.

  17. Anthony, let’s not waste a good website name and registration and turn it into a site that honors the trusty old incandescent bulb. How about personal stories of the bulb — heroic, humorous, illustrative, inspiring? And photos too. There’s plenty of imagination among the WUWT readership and, who knows, may we could just save the thing from the recycle bin of history. Or at least give it the honor due it’s longevity. Sure, there are sites on the history of the light bulb such as http://www.bulbs.com/resources/history.aspx, but this one would be more universal and fun.

  18. My favorite of all time is still the Sofa King ad. It sounded completely legit, too… Sofa King Warehouse! Our prices are Sofa King good!

  19. Anthony says:
    “My plan for this April Fool’s column was thought up about a year ago. But ever since Gleick launched “fakegate” I just couldn’t do it, even in jest. His scummy self serving deceptions foisted on journalists (who lapped it up without question) have left such a bad taste in my mouth that I couldn’t bring myself to follow through with a simple prank designed to be fun, entertaining, and in the spirit of April Fools day.“

    No worries… your use of the words “scummy self serving deceptions” carries far more weight (at least to me) than an April Fool’s prank.

    I only wish this guy would be charged, either in civil court or criminal court. Then I would laugh… a whole-hearted belly laugh. I can’t think of anything that would be more entertaining… and satisfying!

  20. scott,

    True, I remember the “dirty times” too. I’m not sure they were as bad as we think they were and would be interested in seeing if anyone has done a decent study. Also, the technology wasn’t ready to deal with the problems, and what came before that, coal-burning…which I recall in Europe wuite well, and before that wood-burning, were far worse.

    The question we need to ask whether the bloated, expensive federal agencies are the only way to get the job done. State or procincial, regional, local or municipal authorities and the civil courts can handle pollution problems quite well too. “Capitalism” is receptive to public pressure…and class action suits. The massive damage that the EPA and the NGOs are wreaking on the economy with their runaway regulations, ensconced bureaucracies and damage to growth whenever they jump on the latest fad appearsmay be far greate, but nearly invisibler. Costly fuel is a drag on the economy and millions of lives are affected in begative ways that are difficult to account. The bottom line is even in the most polluted environments of the Industrial Revolution, health standards and life expectancy rose beyond anything before them.

    Another thing to recognize is that what agencies like the EPA, many NGOs and eco movements do, is to make bogus claims about their own usefulness. They wait until the technology or popular pressure make improvements possible, then make a lot of demonstrations, plonk themselves as “leaders” and fool the public into believing that it is they who brought about the changes. For this they drain billions from our economies.

  21. A good one would have been a story about Al Gore wanting to make artificial snow and truck it or fly it up to Mount Kilimanjaro.

  22. A proper April Fool joke is not simply an incorrect news story. There needs to be a style to it, and, critically, it needs to rely on a level of gullibility. Simply taking over all news channels and stating that “Aliens have landed!” wouldn’t really count. It has to be something that will fool the foolish, while leaving room for an intelligent person to discover that the story is incorrect.

    To assist this, proper April fools should contain clues that they are a jape inside their text. Remember that made-up Guardian piece about the little island of Sans Serif? When you saw that the islands off it all had names of fonts that was a clue that something was wrong. Ideally, the best jokes provide very limited clues initially, and then go on to provide broader and broader hints as the Fool progresses…..

  23. scott says:
    April 1, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    If it wasn’t for CARB, we’d still have 2nd and 3rd stage smog alerts in the Los Angeles Basin, something that hasn’t occurred for over 15 years now. Anyone who remembers those days has no desire to bring them back. The massive improvements in air quality are directly due to automobile emissions restrictions instituted by CARB.

    Yup.

    Notable, earth-shaking milestones and ‘inventions’ in automobile engine technology pioneered by CARB:

    “The PCV valve, scavenging piston ring blow-by vapors from the crankcase”

    “Fuel-tank vapor recovery system: uses charcoal canister to capture ‘evaporating’ gasoline vapors otherwise vented to the atmosphere”

    “Microcomputer (uC) Engine Control platform: used by automakers to boost engine performance, reduce emissions”

    “Multiport Fuel Injection: provided the precise metering of Fuel for accurate F/A ratios under all conditions”

    !! April Fools !!

    15 years ago (in 1997) my 1996 Chevy Caprice had every one of those devices, in fact, my 1986 Chevy Caprice had all but the Multi-port Fuel Injection (the 1986 had the infamous 4-barrel Rochester Quadra-Jet carburetor with HUGE vacuum-actuated secondaries!)

    Granted, CARB did draft rules prior to the Federal Clean Air Act regulating automobile emissions, but it would have just been a matter of time before product improvements, simple things like PCV valves, were incorporated into production automobiles. Such things as “fuel vapor recovery” systems might have still required ‘standards’ for the automakers to meet, since the purpose is not as ‘clear’ to the public as to the goal; tail-pipe emissions are only part of the equation …

    .

  24. The science and integrity of IPCC has convinced me that global climate disruption is a serious threat and we should submit to UN control in all matters.

    April Fools

  25. Peter Kovachev says:
    April 1, 2012 at 11:44 am

    Good find for a good laugh and congrats on your new website.

    ———————–

    Thank you!

    I went to read / learn about AGW and at a place called Skeptical Science they told me that, “Skeptics get funded by Koch Brothers and Big Oil”. Being an All American typical kid, I thought: “Hey! That’s for me, I certainly could use the flash.” I mean, there are things I absolutely need.

    Soooo…I got a free blog and now steal the best of articles from the best of blogs that allow me to repost.

    Granted, my posts aren’t originals….BUT hey! I don’t need as much money as fiscally responsible adults do, just enough to get through the weekends, mostly.

    Question: Do I get more money being a skeptic, if people leave me a post there? :)

  26. Why should (alleged) criminal activity by someone else criminal deter you from a practical joke??
    Your premise and set up looked fantastic.

  27. Why is the concept of a small municipality being silly enough to legislate Low Flow Fire Hydrants in the name of “sustainability” so much of an April Fools’ Day joke when low flow toilets that don’t work were, and still are, legislated federally?

  28. Ecotretas says:
    April 1, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Here in Portugal, people are starting to reuse “petrol lamps”. Not an April fool though!

    http://ecotretas.blogspot.pt/2012/03/candeeiros-petroleo.html

    (in Portuguese)
    _______________________________
    We have about a half dozen and a kerosene space heater as well as a generator. We maybe needing them more often than we thought with the latest from the EPA.

  29. Peter Kovachev says:
    April 1, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    scott,

    True, I remember the “dirty times” too. I’m not sure they were as bad as we think they were and would be interested in seeing if anyone has done a decent study….
    _____________________________________
    Yes they did LINK

  30. Camburn says:
    April 1, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    wow…..so ya try to inject a little humor over at obviously not Real Climate and they reject the post even today!

    Maybe my inference about all Arctic Ice disappearing by 2012 wasn’t taken as funny?

    http://articles.boston.com/2007-12-12/news/29229026_1_jay-zwally-sea-ice-snow-and-ice-data

    Well, it is April Fools day isn’t it?

    Camburn, you are allowed to ‘cut’ only so close to the artery without the climate line judges crying ‘foul’ … it’s okay if THEY do it, but mere mortals, with little direct accreditation in the climate sci field means such posts earn borehole disposition … if not some forsaken 6th dimension in a not-so-parallel universe never to be seen, or read, again …

    .

  31. I left a comment over at RealClimate because Stefan’s second example misrepresented the PDO. So far, it’s still sitting in moderation limbo.

  32. Peter Kovachev says:
    April 1, 2012 at 11:56 am
    <DirkH says:
    April 1, 2012 at 10:41 am
    "I hear whale blubber is a renewable resource."

    Dirk and Peter,

    When I moved out to the Pacific North Wet (Puget Sound area of Washington state, USA) in 1998, a local indian tribe called the Makahs was determined to hunt and kill a gray whale, from a traditional many man dugout canoe. They wanted their children to experience muktuk (blubber or whale meat) first hand, in the way of their ancestors. The local 'Save The Whales' folks where in a total lather, that anyone would kill a whale!

    I decided to test the locals reactions to the topic so I made a sign for the rear window of my pickup truck that simply said "Makah Whaling: What's All The Blubbering About???"

    Reactions were predictable. Folks either cracked up laughing, tooted their horns and gave me the 'thumbs up', or they would get angry and 'flip me off' or try to cut me off in traffic. The laughter made it all worth it!
    MtK

  33. Anthony,

    “I’m treating a number of my moderation staff and contributors to a nice dinner tonight”

    It’s 18:30 here in the heart of Texas so I hope it’s not too late. I have just chipped a “Grant” into the donation bucket. Use it towards your dinner, with many thanks from me!

    Regards,
    Steamboat Jack (Jon Jewett’s evil twin)

  34. “No Light Bulb Left Behind” ha that is a true classic. Just a thought but keep the web page and put up a donations tab and run lots of climate scare stories on it. I bet you will retire much richer than you could on this site.

    Would have been a good one and I feel robbed of some mirth. Darn FakeGate!

  35. You have to be careful when you play jokes like that on liberals and econuts. They may try to implement them.

  36. I’m with Matthew W on this — the day we allow the likes of Peter Gleick to rob us of a bit of traditional leg-pulling, is where we all start to slide into the grim, earnest world of the moralistic self-important Greenie.

  37. CodeTech says:
    April 1, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    My favorite of all time is still the Sofa King ad. It sounded completely legit, too… Sofa King Warehouse! Our prices are Sofa King good!

    ————————-

    There is a Sofa King here in Northampton
    It does indeed have a large poster on the front of the building that says exactly that. I hoped Google maps would show it — it is on St Leonards Road; Northampton (put this into google maps; –St Leonards Rd, Northampton, Northamptonshire NN4, United Kingdom –) Sofa King is the Yellow fronted building at the West end of the Road – where it meets Main Road. Unfortunately neither the Sofa King banner nor the ad are visible.

  38. More about whale blubber:
    Stossel: Rockefeller saved the whales at 12:00

    And even wikipedia acknowledges that (you have to subtract the NPOV bias, of course, but I think we all know how to read the wikipedia these days, like a good Soviet citizen read the Pravda):
    “Despite improving the quality and availability of kerosene products while greatly reducing their cost to the public (the price of kerosene dropped by nearly 80% over the life of the company), Standard Oil’s business practices created intense controversy.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_D._Rockefeller#Monopoly

  39. Too bad it didn’t happen! It would have been an April Fools Day prank for the ages. :)

  40. I grew up in Los Angeles, born in the San Fernando Valley in 1953, and left in 1973. I remember my lungs burning from the pollution frequently. The whole sky was tinted red many days from the nitrogen oxides. Breathing was difficult during those periods. In my teenage years, I did lots of bicycling and did around 4800 miles in 1972. Smog made it very difficult to breath, but I managed to go from Van Nuys, where I lived out to Thousand Oaks on the west, Palmdale in the NE, and the city of Ontario in the east (was trying to visit cute girl at the time) in spite of it.

    It really was that bad. Made for great sunsets though. It was a major health issue. But remember that improvements were due to regulation of a real hazard, which CO2 is not. The regulations really helped out there. Unfortunately, I was long gone by the time the air was that clean.

  41. adolfogiurfa says:
    April 1, 2012 at 11:14 am
    @DirkH says : I hear whale blubber is a renewable resource….
    Wouldn´t it be better if they use excess fat extracted from environmentalists? It would fight obesity too (which is on the same liberal list of goals to be attained). :-)
    ———————————–
    If Gore were liposuctioned he could provide heat and light to a village of 100 in Alaska for a year…and still need to lose weight.

    BTW, I think the classic April Fool’s joke was the BBC’s (I think) mockumentary on the annual harvesting of the spaghetti trees in Italy, followed up later with an apology for the joke, and a video of how spaghettis is mined….

  42. WSJ’s Saefong has been quoting Gleick from at least 2006, and certainly hasn’t stopped!

    30 March: WSJ: Myra P. Saefong: Water: vital to life and an investment essential
    “Water is vitally important to consumers of all kinds, from residential users to commercial and industrial users,” said Peter Gleick, co-founder of the Pacific Institute, an independent think-tank in Oakland, Calif. “This makes it much like a commodity, but we must never forget that water is far more than a commodity. It is also a fundamental human right and must not be treated as just another product to be bought and sold.”
    “It is often ‘cheap,’ because we do not properly price what it costs to provide safe and reliable water to us, but it is not ‘cheap’ in the sense that it is precious and vital,” he said…
    Still, compared with other commodities markets, water has done well so far this year…

    http://articles.marketwatch.com/2012-03-30/markets/31253495_1_water-bills-clean-water-safe-water

  43. I was the moderator for a Knowledge Bowl tournament among seniors from various high schools today, and since it was April 1, I inserted the question: “What day of the year is widely recognized as a day when people play practical jokes on each other?” Of course a quick respondent buzzed in with the correct answer of “April Fools Day,” to which I replied, “I’m sorry but that is not the answer I have here..” to which he greatly remonstrated, much to the delight and hilarity of the audience who caught on more quickly than he did!

  44. In you earlier spoof, you joked about Chico being a nuclear-free zone, but that actually happened in Sheffield, England, under a rampant leftist local government. It worked, though – no nuclear attacks were sustained then or since.

  45. Speaking of light bulbs, this evening and it is now evening in OZ, I was cooking the evening meal and turned on the lights in the dining kitchen area. One went pphtt and a few seconds later rather loudly exploded, I then spent one half of an hour trying to locate all the shards.

    As the stove is sheltered some what by the fridge against shrapnel I ate my meal and found no crunchy bits. The bulb was not a mercury curly but a high tech quarts imitation real globe, luckily.

    After a life of adventure and some painful episodes I have found that I am immune to shock but it frightened the bejesus out of the cat.

  46. “Readers may recall that I love a good April Fools story, such as the one I did about Low Flow Fire Hydrants in my town in the name of “sustainability”.

    Note to self: Remember to check the day close to April Fools Day. ;-)

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