Monday, July 8, 2013

Fire Breathing Toaster: DC Switches to Celsius

by Bill Adler

In an emergency effort to reduce electricity consumption during this heat wave, the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments will be making all future weather announcements and forecasts in Celsius rather than Fahrenheit, Maxine Roberts, WMCOG spokesperson announced today.

This is the hottest June in 50 years and electricity use is at an all-time high. "By converting to Celsius, people will perceive a lower temperature and not feel like they have to turn their air conditioning up so high," Roberts said. "97F is 37.1C, for example. Even 90F, which often feels hot, especially if you're a transplant from New Hampshire, is only 32.2 Celsius. 'Mind over matter' matters when it comes to heat and humidity. Everyone here knows that visualizing icebergs, thinking about cool waterfalls, and seeing a lower thermometer reading in your mind's eye is all you need to feel better in this heat."

Roberts pointed out that there are several additional advantages to converting from Fahrenheit. "Because Celsius is a one syllable word, it's easier to spell than Fahrenheit," she said.

Roberts also noted that using Celsius is part of DC's "Go Metric" campaign. "We have an added incentive to put ourselves in sync with the rest of the planet when it comes to measurements." She added, "Americans who travel to other countries will be grateful that they finally know Celsius."

"This will probably become a permanent change," Roberts observed. "We considered making a twice-a-year switch between Celsius and Fahrenheit to coincide with the daylight saving time clock change, but it makes sense to go metric and stick with that." She acknowledged that the DC City Council could override the WMCOG's decision and use either Celsius or Fahrenheit, but that would make things very confusing if other jurisdictions stuck with Celsius. "It would be worse than living in Arizona, which doesn't observe daylight saving time at all, and is, for that reason, disconnected with the rest of the nation."

The Washington chapter of the Sierra Club applauded WMCOG's move toward Celsius. "We're in favor of anything that gets people to conserve energy," said Whit Greenacre. "At the Sierra Club, we've been using our imaginations for decades to pretend we're someplace else."


"DC Switches to Celsius" was originally published as a fake news story on the Cleveland Park Listserv,, in the summer of 2010. It's even hotter in 2013, so we thought we'd reprint this to help everyone feel cooler.

Bill Adler is a writer. He is the author of "Boys and Their Toys: Understanding Men by Understanding Their Relationship with Gadgets,", "Outwitting Squirrels,", and a mess of other books. He tweets at @billadler. Fire Breathing Toaster is published on Mondays.

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