The world of astronomy was thrown into turmoil yesterday as some scientists attending a conference proposed that the Earth be stripped of its classification as a planet.
“It has little in common with other planets within the solar system,” remarked one delegate. “There are oceans of water and a stable atmosphere, making it suitable for organic life. By contrast all the other planets in the solar system are either cold enough to freeze gases like carbon dioxide and methane, or are so hot that lead would melt on their surfaces. All of them are quite sterile.”
“Earth is very unspectacular,” said Dr Alfred Goring of the Royal Greenwich Observatory. “Other planets have interesting features like rings, giant red spots, spectacular volcanoes and dense, superheated atmospheres. Classifying Earth as a planet makes astronomy seem boring and discourages young people from taking up the subject. Even our Moon is boring — it’s in a stable orbit and always faces the same way towards Earth. Other planets’ moons like Titan, Io and Europa are actually far more exciting than the Earth. It’s quite embarrassing.”
In response, North Korea’s Kim Jong-il and Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have offered to help retain Earth’s status as a planet. “Our peaceful pursuit of civilian nuclear capability will guarantee that the surface of the Earth is reduced to a lifeless nuclear desert,” they said in a joint statement. “Not only will it be as hostile to life as the other planets, but the extreme radioactivity will be a unique and exciting feature.”