Columbia University Gets $5.7 Million for Climate-Change Games

Saturday, 24 May 2014 10:51 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Columbia University has received nearly $6 million in taxpayer funds that are being used, in part, to create climate change games that include fake voicemails that portray a dire future and warnings that "neo-luddites" will be murdering global warming advocates by 2035.

The $5.7 million grant from the National Science Foundation,  which expires in August 2017, underwrites Columbia Climate Center's "PoLAR Climate Change Education Partnership," reports The Washington Free Beacon.

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Such games, say the grant paperwork, are set up to "engage adult learners and inform public understanding and response to climate change."

Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, who chairs the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, said the game wastes taxpayer dollars that can be used elsewhere.

"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 to The Free Beacon.

"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."

The school has used the money to create a game called "Future Coast," which mainly features hundreds of emails to display a dismal future world as climate change advances.

"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 game is just one of the Climate Change Education projects being complete by the PoLAR Partnership, according to the university.

"The situation is this: The software system of the future has sprung a space-time leak," the school explains about the game. "However, since the link is only in voicemail storage, it's taking decades for it to be fixed. Meanwhile, voicemail messages are being delivered — in some instances falling from the sky — in strange looking coded discs called "chronofacts."

"Anyone can listen to the messages that people leave for each other in the years 2020 to 2065 – by turns banal, mysterious and terrifying," the site says.

By 2035 "neo-Luddites" who appear to be from Texas, are closing in, the messages say.  

"It's the neo-Luddites," a voice says. "Anybody who has any sort of scientific knowledge, they want to kill, so we have to pretend from now on that we know nothing...the neo-Luddites are coming up from Texas, the Luddites, they hate everything."

Sometimes, the game turns political, as listeners hear in 2020, just six years from now, people will still be cracking jokes about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Bridgegate.

"Hey sweetheart, it's Rob," the message says. "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. So the tunnels will be down and the bridge will be on Chris Christie time again."

Another message says that in 2037, macaroni and cheese will be a delicacy, because the caller is "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.

In other odd messages, a son plans a hike in a terrarium for his mother, because nature no longer exists in 2064.

The money to Columbia is just one of six Climate Change Education Partnership-Phase II (CCEP-II) program awards being distributed by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

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