Taxpayers Paid $5.6 Million for Climate Change Games

‘Voicemails’ from the future warn of doom and gloom

May 23, 2014

Taxpayers paid more than $5 million to create climate change games, including voicemails from the future warning that "neo-luddites" will kill global warming enthusiasts by 2035.

Columbia University’s Climate Center has received $5.7 million from the National Science Foundation for the university’s "PoLAR Climate Change Education Partnership," to "engage adult learners and inform public understanding and response to climate change."

Based on the theory that games "motivate exploration and learning of complex material," the school created "Future Coast," a website that features hundreds of made up voicemails painting a dire picture of the future as a result of climate change.

"There’s a lot we don’t know about our possible futures, but one thing we do: It’s got a software glitch in it, in the voicemail system, which is sending their voicemails back to our time," the website explains. "As these futurismo objects we call chronofacts. Huh. Weird."

The messages are "banal, mysterious, and terrifying," about "possible climate changed futures" in attempts to convince the public to act on climate change now.

"Who hasn’t wondered what the future will be like for us and for our planet? This is your chance to find out!" the university said.

That future, according to Columbia, includes a world with robotic arms, where humans are "like pets," live underground, and in fear of their lives from climate skeptics.

Listeners also learn that in 2020 people will still be making Chris Christie Bridgegate jokes.

"Hey sweetheart, it’s Rob. I'm gonna be coming home late tonight. There's a storm coming up the Jersey shore and they're expecting the Turnpike to be under water for a couple of hours," a voicemail says. "So the tunnels will be down and the bridge will be on Chris Christie time again."

A woman in 2056 is afraid her house is going to "topple into the ocean pretty soon, it's looking pretty unstable." "We had to ride our bikes since our sector has driving restrictions today," she adds.

In 2037 macaroni and cheese is a delicacy. "We are really low on water and we’ve been harvesting the water but it’s not going to rain for another year and a half, and I really want to give Owen his favorite thing, macaroni and cheese," a girl says in the message "Owen’s birthday."

Some messages are indecipherable. In 2030 a man just repeats "don’t eat the bacon," "don’t even think about it."

In 2020, a man informs his mother that he has not been going to Thanksgiving since 2016 because of a scam involving "Hurricane Simulators."

"Listen, mama, it’s not that I don’t love you, it’s just I cannot come to Thanksgiving because of what Craig did to Annabelle a couple a years ago," he says. "He suckered her in to buying all of those used hurricane booths."

"He knows that nobody cares about going to those hurricane booth simulators because everybody's been in a gosh-darned hurricane now!"

People will live to 200 by 2064. A son plans a "special" surprise for his mother’s birthday, a hike in a terrarium since "nature no longer exists."

One message, "Molly and Billy," the characters use redneck stereotypes to talk about how climate change has ruined their crop.

"Howdy ya’ll, this is Molly," she says in 2060. "And it’s pretty hot out here, we’re farming, me and Billy. Come to the phone Billy."

"Dag nab it, Ma," Billy says. "Oh these beetles, they ruined our crop again … I wish it was like it was the way it was."

In 2030 Citi Field is just a marsh, the Mission in San Francisco is under water in 2044, and every kid has a miniature panda in 2059. Limes cost $10,000 in 2035, a caller informs after he has been mugged going to the "Skymall." You can only visit Paris by submarine in 2059, the "coasts and the beaches have disappeared," and there’s only one lobster left.

Gay marriage has been legalized in Antarctica in 2060. A Baptist church runs "hospital jails" in 2034.

In 2035 "Neo-luddites" are "closing in."

"It’s the Neo-luddites. Anybody who has any sort of scientific knowledge, they want to kill, so we have to pretend from now on that we know nothing," a caller says. "Please tell me that you’ve gotten away from that place, I haven’t heard from you in a very long time."

The capitol of the Neo-luddites appears to be Texas.

"The Neo-luddites are coming up from Texas, the Luddites, they hate everything," a caller says. "They’re gonna wipe us out."

Rep. Lamar Smith (R., Texas), chairman of the House Committee on Science Space and Technology, said the game is a waste of taxpayer dollars.

"The NSF has funded too many questionable grants at the expense of higher priority research in fields like engineering, mathematics, computer science, and biology," he said in a statement.

"Taxpayers would rather their money fund higher priorities, like interdisciplinary research to understand how the brain works or Quantum computers, which could be the next generation of fast computers," Smith said. "It is not the government's money; it is the people's money."