A claim went viral on social media claiming “Aphelion phenomenon” will cause a severe cold environment starting from 10th July 2022 till August 2022 with serious health concerns like fever, cough, shortness of breath. It further claimed that the distance between sun and earth will increase by 66% (90,000,000 km to 152,000,000 km).
(Screenshot from Facebook post)
(Widespread of the claim on internet)
In order to verify the claim, we searched for keyword “Aphelion phenomenon 2022” on google search engine and found a research article from University of South Maine. The Planetarium at the University of Southern Maine explains that this 3-million-mile difference is not enough to impact temperatures. While claims that the Earth is “5 light minutes” or 90,000,000 kilometers (about 56 million miles) away from the sun, are wrong.
On average, the Earth is about 93 million miles (about 150 million kilometers) away from the sun, or a little more than 8 light-minutes. As the earth’s orbit is elliptical, the distance between the Earth and the sun varies throughout the year. During the perihelion, the closest point between the Earth and the sun, the planets are separated by about 91.5 million miles. At the aphelion, the earth is about 3 million miles further away. This is about a 7% increase, not 66% as claimed in this post.
Our fact-check confirmed that the claims that the “Aphelion phenomenon” will cause severe low temperatures are false, and the calculation of distance from earth is also false. The purpose of spreading this hoax was to mislead people and create distress.
ABCDE Framework-Based Analysis
|Actor||Official account of a public institute in Pakistan is involved in disseminating disinformation.|
|Behavior||“Aphelion phenomenon” and its bad effects were shared through social media posts.|
|Content||Social media posts.|
|Degree||The targeted audience was the general public, this false claim created a hoax which was mainly shared on Facebook. No synthetic means were used to make content viral, since it was shared from an official account of an educational institute it was supposed to be credible news for users.|
|Effect||The agenda behind circulating such news is to mislead the general public. Hoaxes are being spread to mislead people about climate change and its effects on health.|