Apple Fools' Day

Two weeks after Michael Brune took over as the Sierra Club's new executive director, he released one of his signature videos. In it, he discussed a new iPhone app being distributed by the coal industry. The clever application was designed to provide coal spokespeople with the right vocabulary to advance their cause. "Mountain removal mining," for example, became "overburden relocation." "Global warming" was transformed into "atmospheric rhythm."

I was stunned by the industry's shamelessness -- and then chagrined at my own gullibility. For, alas, the date on the Brune video was April 1, and the Carbon Complex had not actually released a climate misleader's killer app.

But truth, it seems, does imitate fiction, with only a few month's lag time. For this week a prominent climate-cynics site, Watt's Up With That, promoted a climate-misinformation iPhone app that contains far more damaging Orwellian language than the Sierra Club's coal industry spoof. The app, called Our Climate,  does indeed treat global warming as, perhaps, just the result of natural atmospheric rhythms. But then again, maybe the globe isn't warming at all. Indeed, Our Climate is, in its own words, a "bite-sized" guide to how climate cynics argue -- and as a result rarely have so many contradictions been encompassed in so little space: Climate is highly variable on its own, so people can't be causing it to change . Then again, climate has self-correcting feedback mechanisms, so it can't change, regardless.

But there is one consistent theme to all of the material contained on the Our Climate app. Taken in isolation, each bit of data is designed to send your brain the message, "There's nothing to worry about (and no reason to stop burning coal and oil)."

It's such a simple message that you could put it on the cover of MAD magazine. Maybe we need an app for that!

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this post claimed that Watt's Up With That released the iPhone app "Our Climate". The app was released by Aeris Systems, and not Watt's Up With That.