The climate scientists have devised a way to halt global warming. They will wrap the polar ice caps in aluminum foil to reflect the sun’s heat and rays. The scientists predict that beneath the foil, the poles will cool again, the glaciers will refreeze, and the earth will be saved. A plan so simple, so perfect, so elegantly brilliant, that failure is impossible.
The government, in an act of eminent domain, seizes all privately owned aluminum foil. They conduct raids on houses, gathering up fragments of foil saved for Christmas ornaments or tucked around stringy bits of leftovers in the fridge. Every last bit of privately owned foil will be used to cover the ice caps, and no scrap of foil is too small.
As compensation, the government offers its citizens a healthy planet. This is considered to be a fair exchange, even though the citizens know they have no alternative or say in the matter.
At the poles, the scientists wear sunglasses to protect their eyes from the blinding reflection of sun off snow. The scientists crinkle together scraps of foil, forming a patchwork quilt which they then labor to drag over the ice’s surface.
The scientists ram a few thermometers through the foil and into the ice below. From their offices at universities and think tanks, they will remotely monitor the temperature for signs of progress.
Before the scientists leave, they soak each other with champagne and give a teleconference in which they instruct all citizens to break out their sweaters. The earth will soon begin to cool.
At home, the citizens dress in layers and bring extra jackets whenever they leave the house. They don’t want to be caught unawares as they wait for the first hint of a chill, a sign that the scientists’ plan has worked. And though the temperature in their neighborhoods has not changed, folks report feeling colder on the inside.
The scientists attribute this feeling, mainly, to the general public’s inability to keep their leftovers warm, given the absence of aluminum foil.
Though the temperature remains unchanged, the citizens and scientists know this plan will work. Watching the nightly news, they snuggle beneath fleeces and plush blankets. They pluck at their laps, disguising their discomfort with the feeling that nags at them, the one that says the climate scientists have actually managed to turn the world’s polar ice caps into giant baked potatoes, trapping the heat inside and cooking the earth more quickly.
The citizens ignore the sweat moistening their spines, and they wait for the news to report that the temperature has, in any way, changed.
Lindsay Fowler’s home is guarded by a papier-mâché doll named The Patron Saint and a suit of armor called Sir Roger. Her stories have appeared in Monkeybicycle, Psychopomp, and Thrice Fiction, amongst others, and she occasionally posts at lindsayannfowler.com.