What are your favorite climate and energy metaphors and jokes?

Last Sunday’s post “What are your favorite climate and energy soundbites? drew dozens of comments that are a must read for anyone who speaks on this subject.  I will definitely use and/or adapt some of those suggestions.

Now I’m looking for something a little more specific — pithy metaphors and jokes, maybe two sentences at most.

Metaphors are the Rolls Royce of figures. Or, to put it more aptly, metaphors are the Toyota Prius of figures because a metaphor is a hybrid, connecting two dissimilar things to achieve a unique turn of phrase.

Aristotle wrote in Poetics, “To be a master of metaphor is a sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies intuitive perception of the similarity in dissimilars” (see “How to be as persuasive as Lincoln, 3“).

A 2005 study on “Presidential Leadership and Charisma: The Effects of Metaphor” examined the use of metaphors in the first-term inaugural addresses of three dozen presidents who had been independently rated for charisma. The remarkable conclusion:

Charismatic presidents used nearly twice as many metaphors (adjusted for speech length) than non-charismatic presidents.

Additionally, when students were asked to read a random group of inaugural addresses and highlight the passages they viewed as most inspiring, “even those presidents who did not appear to be charismatic were still perceived to be more inspiring when they used metaphors.”

One of the comments in the earlier post by Dan Miller of Climate Place offered this metaphor:

“If your child has cancer, you’re going to take him or her to a pediatric oncologist, not a dentist or an ophthalmologist. And if the oncologist says your child needs treatment, you’re not going to withhold it because the doctor is only 95% certain of the diagnosis or the fact that the doctor will earn money from providing the treatment. The climate scientists are the experts that are telling us we need to take action now. To withhold treatment is to endanger the future of our children.”

It’s not bad, but from my perspective it’s too long and too quantitative — and possible too strong — to be effective as a metaphor in most situation.  I’d go with something more like, “When your child has a severe fever, you take him to a pediatrician, not a dentist or optometrist.”  And you can take that metaphor many places depending on the situation.

I’m certainly open to an extended metaphor.  It is, after all, How Lincoln framed his picture-perfect Gettysburg Address.  They are, however, much tougher to do well and much more likely to run amomk.

Also, I’d love a good joke or two.  I’m looking for stuff that can be used in a short speech or possibly even an interview or possibly a comeback in a FoxNews interview situation (though something friendly enough that one would get invited back).

I’m looking for material that covers not just climate change, but oil and clean energy and even the politics of this issue.

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79 Responses to What are your favorite climate and energy metaphors and jokes?

  1. Jonah says:

    In regards to arguing with laws of nature:

    “If you want to launch a rocket with only 10,000 lbs of fuel, and a NASA scientist tells you you’re going to need 100,000 pounds to get to orbit, you can’t compromise and launch with 50,000 pounds. You’re still gonna land in the ocean. Bigger splash, though.”

    (Paraphrased from a friend’s sig file)

  2. Wit's End says:

    I just love google!

    Q: How many climate sceptics does it take to change a lightbulb?

    A: None. It’s too early to say if the lightbulb needs changing.

    A: None. It’s more cost-effective to live in the dark.

    A: None. We only know how to screw the planet.

    A: None. Eventually the lightbulbs will right themselves.

    found here:

    [JR: Third one is good. Needs a rewrite:

    How many climate deniers does it take to change a lightbulb? None: They only know how to screw the planet.]

  3. Eli Rabett says:

    You might enjoy this. . .

    Al Gore and James Annan and Roger Pielke Jr. were sleeping in a hotel room when a fire broke out in one corner of the room. . . .

    Follow the link for the rest of the joke and don’t forget to read the comments:)

  4. Pierre C says:

    ‭The whole process or green job creation could be greatly accelerated (and sustained) with the market strategy proposed at this website:

    ‏A Structural Strategy for Global Warming, Resource Conservation, Toxic Contaminants, and the Environment

    It would make greener products cheaper, boosting their markets, and toxic items more expensive (reducing their consumption). The strategy is revenue-neutral (i.e. free).

    Tags: ‬ethanol, biodiesel, green technology, solar energy, emission-free urban transportation, rechauffement climatique,

  5. Pierre C says:

    Link for A Structural Strategy for Global Warming, Resource Conservation, Toxic Contaminants, and the Environment

  6. fj2 says:

    Inaction on the environmental crisis is like a guy threatening you with a gun saying “Your money and your life!” and, you doing nothing but thinking about it.

  7. Alex Carlin says:

    How many climate deniers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? None: They only know how to screw the planet.

    Burn that Coal? Melt the South Pole!

    Stop burning coal or it won’t be pretty – We’ll melt the South Pole and submerge New York City!

  8. mike roddy says:

    I like the visual/word combination. Ian Murphy of Buffalo Beast (and my 14 Most Heinous Climate Villains coauthor) could do the artwork on this one, unless someone here can suggest a really good team of mural artists. This could be painted onto the side of a large building, preferably in Washington DC, where the fossil fuel lobbyists work.

    Big canvas scene that could have been done by Goya, set in the Appalachians in 2060: A coal company blasted mountaintop is in the center, surrounded by the former forest that is now blackened sticks, with a few buzzards perched on them. A militia roaming band, skinny and slobbering, is combing the gullies for scraps or survivors. Rusting hulks of earthmovers are askew. The creeks run either lavender or orange, and one of them is bubbling. The sun is roasting everything, and a few cacti sprout bravely.

    There is a big hand scrawled sign nailed onto a post: “Nice going, coal companies. You f***** up the whole world.”

  9. Icarus says:

    How about something like this?:

    “The Earth’s climate is an angry beast, and we’re poking it with sharp sticks. Pretty soon it’s going to turn around and savage us, and we’ll only have ourselves to blame”.

    Adapt the wording as you see fit, of course.

  10. _Flin_ says:

    Not being sure how fast you will hit the wall 50 yards away is something different than pretending that there is no wall.

  11. jyyh says:

    Nah, I’m waiting for those “coal-powered hairdryers”, “battery-powered pendulum clocks” and “wind-powered windmills” before i can comment.

  12. burk says:

    Before humans, the earth had a whole megafauna of mastodons, Moas, giant kangaroos, enormous sloths, and more. We killed them all, like they were mountaintops to be removed for a bit of fuel or food. We are doing the same thing now, killing everything down the food chain with climate change and other assaults on the biosphere. We’ve removed 90% of large fish from the oceans. Isn’t it time we think about the future, for a change?

  13. wag says:

    Stopping climate change is like owning a house: You don’t have to believe your house is going to burn down to know it’s a good idea to buy insurance.

  14. fj2 says:

    From Ross Gelbspan:

    When the Skeptics Cry “Global Cooling,” It’s Proof They Don’t Know Their Ash From A Hole in the Ground

  15. Will Koroluk says:

    In various forms from various people:

    It’s highly unlikely that my house won’t burn down this year–but I bought insurance anyway.

  16. homunq says:

    For the overall situation:

    We’re barreling down a curvy mountain road in the fog. We’ve never been here before and we’re starting to skid on the curves. There’s more people in the car than seat belts. The sooner we move our foot from the gas to the brake pedal, the better.

    (The point of a metaphor like this is that although it suggests the possibility of disaster, it’s about prudent thinking, not crisis thinking. I think that that’s the kind of metaphor we need.)

    For the economic benefits of transformation, it’s harder to find a good metaphor. Here’s an attempt.

    The gold and silver that Spain got from their American colonies allowed them to buy their way out of problems for a while. But it was not good for them. Their neighbors, who were busy innovating to supply their demands, ended up better-off. The incredibly cheap energy that fossil fuels provide is the same kind of boom-town prosperity. An economy based on the productivity of people, not petroleum, can be not just more sustainable, but more prosperous.

    (Again, the focus is on the difference between an extractive and an innovative economy. Extractive: gold-rush, boom-town, tax man, robber baron, open pit, Avatar villains, clear-cut. Innovative/productive: farmer, artisan, internet….)

    Hmm… that makes me think about effective turns of phrase for considering the CO2 capacity of the atmosphere as a limited resource. “Strip-mining the air”? Not perfect. Let’s see if I can poetically express the thermodynamics:

    “To allow life to develop, the earth existed in an ideal balance. Plenty of concentrated energy from the sun during the day, and then a chance to rest and get rid of enough that energy, now used-up and diluted, at night. CO2 acts to block infrared light – that diluted energy. By overloading our atmosphere with CO2, we are strip-mining the night.”


    “The sun provides the energy for life on earth. But the sun’s not the only important part of the sky. Without the rest of the sky, there would be nowhere else for that energy to go once we’ve used it, and we would burn up. CO2 is starting to block that escape. We’re strip-mining the sky.”


    “The greenhouse effect is like the lid on a pressure cooker. The sun is heating us, and the lid keeps the heat in. Without the lid, most of the water on earth would be frozen – the beans wouldn’t cook. But right now, we’re blocking the valve on that lid by adding CO2 to the atmosphere. The heat is building up to unprecedented levels, and we don’t know when the whole thing could blow.”

    (The last is an attempt to find a good metaphor for a dynamic equilibrium with a catastrophic failure-mode. Other dynamic, flow-based equilibria we all understand: bank balance (backwards – more is good), waiting in line,…)

  17. Will Koroluk says:

    Highly unlikely that my house will burn down this year But I bought insurance anyway,

  18. Jeffrey Davis says:

    “You’ll get my SUV when the Atlantic takes it from my cold dead fingers.”

  19. villabolo says:

    Concerning pseudo-experts with degrees in engineering etc. whom are used by deniers to make anti-global warming statements the following reply:

    “A Gynecologist cannot criticize a dentist nor a heart surgeon give advise to a brain surgeon”

    Concerning out of context evidence like the 1998-present temperature graphs used to supposedly prove that we are declining in temperature or the photographs of a temporary expansion in the Arctic ice the following response, although a little longer than two sentences, this could be said:

    “Imagine that you own stock and that you hear that your stock has taken a modest decline in the past day. You panic and tell yourself that you have to sell off quickly. Don’t you think that you should at least look at 30 days of stock information on the graph? It could actually be going up instead in spite of occasional downturns.”

    “Those 30 days of stock graph represents 30 years of temperature rise since 1979 or 30 years of NASA satellite photos of the Arctic shrinkage. You take all the information in context or you’ll make a mistake.”

    A specific visual metaphor to contradict the Arctic ice cap is increasing claim is to draw a circle with your hands, both hands using thumbs and middle fingers curved into a parenthesis like shape and facing each other and about a foot apart from each other. Point this towards the audience and say the following:

    “Imagine this is a circle representing the North Polar Ice Cap. This is what is happening.”

    You then bring the curved fingers together in small staccato like motions saying “shrink, shrink, shrink, expand. As soon as you say “expand” you slightly reverse the fingers into an outward direction to indicate that the circle has gotten bigger. You repeat this motion 3 or 4 times and obviously the fingers will come together until they are almost touching each other.”

    This will represent the obvious trend of shrinkage while illustrating the occasional expansions that do not compensate for the trend. You then accuse the deniers of taking the expansions alone and not showing the 30 year trend and quickly state that as soon as the Arctic opens up there will be severe weather changes causing crop damage.

    PS: Gentlemen, some of you are getting too cerebral in your metaphors. Remember you are talking to John and Jane Doe Americanus.

  20. Alex Carlin says:

    We are fiddling while the climate burns!

  21. J Bowers says:

    Q: What have denialist authors and Pachauri got in common?
    A: They all write fictional novels.

    Q: What’s the difference between denialist authors and Pachauri?
    A: Pachauri’s novels were intended to be fiction.

  22. Anonymous says:

    My favorite from the comments a while back:

    Patient: Doctor! I’ve been smoking for decades, and now I have a tumor in my lung! Save me!

    Doctor: You’re fine. The idea that the human body does not change over the course of the lifespan is ridiculous.

    It puts one of the common denier talking point–that climate is always changing–in perspective.

  23. Catchblue22 says:

    Climate deniers with some knowledge of geologic history sometimes like to argue that since the climate has varied in the distant past, that climate fluctuations are no threat to humans. What they seem to forget is that civilization has only developed over the past few millennia due to a relatively stable climate. Our civilization has been able to exist because the climate has become stable enough to allow reliable agriculture. If the climate were unstable, just two or three years of crop failures would be enough to destroy any fledgling city. Just because the climate was far more unstable in the distant past doesn’t mean that civilization would be able to thrive in such a world.

    So in that vein, here is a nice analogy…

    You are exploring in the mountains around your city when you come upon a sleeping beast. The beast is huge, the size of a mountain, dwarfing you and your companions. Strewn around the beast lies wreckage, death and destruction. Skeletons of creatures you have never seen before lay broken around you, piled high, and as you gaze beneath your feet you realize that the ground itself is composed of the remains of shattered creatures. In studying the sleeping beast, you realize it is old, as old as the world, and has been sleeping for a long time. You and your companions circle around the beast, and it stirs; you begin to understand that your presence has created a disturbance. You realize that you must not allow the borders of you city to approach this beast, this destroyer. Quietly you walk away, and hope that your fellow citizens will listen to you.

  24. Kota says:

    Civilization basically has two choices. We can become experts at reducing greenhouse gases or we can become experts at yoga. If we do not choose the reduction of greenhouse gases then the yoga will be required so we will be flexible enough to kiss our asses goodbye.

  25. substanti8 says:

    Catastrophic Climate Change is an enormous dragon who sleeps in a secluded cave.
    Fossil fuels are the magical mushrooms in that same cave.

    When people first discovered the mushrooms, it was easy to gather them without waking the dragon. But now danger increases, as mushrooms are plucked closer and closer to the dragon.

    If the dragon wakes up, she will not return to her cave until nobody remembers her cave or a time when she did not stalk the land.

  26. I was going to whine that it is too somber to joke about, but Kota #21 says it best. Thanks so much.

  27. Tony Noerpel says:

    How many deniers does it take to change a burnt out light bulb?

    None, they will never agree that there is enough evidence that the light bulb has burnt out.

  28. Alex Carlin says:

    Four score and ten thousand years ago civilization was brought forth on this planet. Now we are engaged in a great conceptual civil war, testing whether we as a nation, or all nations, can endure the coming change of climate. A portion of that battle is debating whether this scientific truth is, conversely, a hoax – it is altogether a tragic squandering of precious time, but necessary, that we should do this.

    For the future generations, should they suffer the apocalyptic slings and arrows of runaway climate change that will surely be upon them absent a biblical change in energy policy, they will never forgive or forget those who deny the scientific truth of climate change. It is for us, those who are not deceived by the deceivers, to carry to a proper conclusion the unfinished work thus far nobly advanced.

    But in a larger sense, we cannot forget the larger reality – that
    it is rather for us to be dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that we deploy quickly the current clean technologies that will replace the climate catastrophe of coal – that this nation shall have a new birth of common sense and statesmanship – that we here highly resolve that our ten thousand years of civilization will not perish from the earth.

  29. Heraclitus says:

    If my child wanders on to a road I can’t be certain that they will be hit by a car, but I am certain that I need to get them off the road as quickly as I can.

    Also, for those who argue that climate always changes, this is like someone diagnosed with a potentially terminal disease who argues that they can ignore it because they’ve had illnesses before and always got better.

  30. Peer G. Dudda says:

    I like adapting two of the metaphors above: “Fiddling while New York drowns.” [or N’awlins, take your pick]

    There’s also a proverb I read once, attributed to the Cherokee: “We do not inherit the land from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”

  31. Tom says:

    simile pertaining to the economic of a Pigovian tax:
    Burning fossil fuels is like making ten million dollars by stealing a penny from everyone now living, and two pennies from everyone born sometime in the next hundred years. It doesn’t seem so bad, until you realize everyone’s doing it (after all, without laws preventing it, who wouldn’t?), and that there are more than six and a half *billion* people alive today . . .

    an update of the “greenhouse metaphor” (per one of my physics professors):
    Every American knows that leaving a car out in the sun can make the interior much hotter than the ambient air temperature, this is because glass responds differently to longer wave infrared radiation (reflecting rather than transmitting?) than to visible light from the sun. The consequence is that the light from the sun easily enters the car in much the same way it easily enters the atmosphere, but because the absorbed light is re-emitted in the infrared, that heat energy cannot as easily escape, in a similar way to which it cannot leave the atmosphere.

  32. PSU Grad says:

    This is clean, I promise (requires some geographic knowledge):

    There was a girl from Nantucket
    Gasoline, how her H2 could suck it
    The Earth thus would warm
    And the ocean did swarm
    Now she bails out her home with a bucket.

  33. lizardo says:

    Some of the comments/suggestions are explaining the science another scientific way. I don’t think that is the problem for persuadable people who are not paying enough attention. (Blame bad media that several years ago left people with the impression that we had 80-100 years before we had to act.)

    I still like the meteor strike (who gonna listen to, and how close a certainty do you need to act.)

    Also: trying to refang that word “environment.”

    Hurricanes, landslides, wildfires, a drought that means no more water available, all the plants die, these reveal that “the environment” isn’t something separate from us, like a park we can visit sometimes, it is the foundation of our house, both literally and figuratively.

    I know it’s a typo, but I really like “run amomk” (is that the female version of running amok, and god help us from “running amonk”. Do critics sometimes “run amock”? Ok I’ll stop now.

    Off to community theater production of a(n older) musical adaptation of Studs Terkel’s “Working.” Timely it turns out.

  34. Robert Nagle says:

    If your child were sick, and 97% of the world’s doctors said the child would die unless he takes a certain medicine, should you give him this medicine or do nothing until the autopsy confirms the initial diagnosis?

  35. Florifulgurator (Barvaria) says:

    My favorite antiamerican joke comes from James Inhofe:
    “The American people know when their intelligence is being insulted.”
    (from )

  36. Wit's End says:

    RPauli, you are disingenuous. Your own post, “Sorry, Kids” is precisely the sort of parental mea culpa that would resonate…and funny too, in a bleak, wry, we-are-so-screwed sort of way!—sorry-kids.html

  37. homunq says:

    For the girl from Nantucket: “The earth thus got hotter, the ice turned to water”

  38. Braveheart says:

    You can trim to suit yourself with this one)

    Q. How many climate denialists does it take to change a light bulb?

    A. None, because they don’t believe it even needs changing, plus there’s stuff on the internet that proves the room actually got lighter when the light bulb blew, and besides, it’s all a secret plot by light bulb makers (a.k.a. the Illuminati) to establish a leftist World Government and rob us all of our Personal Beliefs & Freedoms (a.k.a. Dr. Strangelove’s Precious Bodily Fluids)…. Why are you asking that question, anyway?. . .. Who wants to know? . . .. Who are you working for? . . . .

  39. Andy Bauer says:

    On the inability of nuclear power to manage its own waste:

    ‘Nuclear power is a house without a toilet’

    On the huge financial government handouts for nuclear power:

    ‘The Nuclear power industry is a like a 55 year old kid still living in his parent’s basement. Still can’t make enough money to move out.’

    On this misuse of the term “Clean Coal”:

    ‘ “Clean Coal”. It’s a marketing strategy, not an operating condition.’

  40. KenL says:

    “Denial–it ain’t just a flooded river in Egypt”

    Actually, a joke about a frog in a warm (and getting warmer) bath would be appropriate here….

  41. rule30 says:

    “Thinking that a couple hacked emails change the reality of man-made global warming, is like finding a typo in the Encyclopedia Brittanica and concluding it’s written in French.”

    “You know the five stages of grief, right? Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.
    Well, Big Oil has its hierarchy of denial, and it goes: Deny – Doubt – Blame – Bargain – BS.”

    Call to action:
    “We want to coal to be in the 21st century, what the horse-buggy was in the 20th century: left by the roadside.”

    “The only thing more powerful than our genius, is our hubris. Our Cassandras are screaming.”

    Informal religious context (a bit bumper sticker-esque, risks being a bit trite):
    “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Don’t let it go to hell in the end.”

    Business context:
    “Venture Capitalists — the guys who funded the Googles when they were garage-sized — are pouring money into new energy technologies. But doubling down on fossil fuels, that’s like betting on Betamax.”

  42. homunq says:

    First, climate change came for the amphibians, but I didn’t say anything, because I was a mammal….

  43. homunq says:

    Life prospers on the flow of energy from the sun, to the earth, and back into space. We’re damming up that flow, and our house is flooding.

  44. sailrick says:

    “I still like the meteor strike”

    Me too.

    Suppose the vast majority of the world’s astronomers told you there was a 90% chance that an asteroid or comet was on a collision course with the earth, but we had the technology to do something about it before it hit, if we acted right away.

    Would you be arguing about balancing that with economic interests? Would you be questioning whether such actions were worth it economically? Would you refuse to support the efforts because it meant some cooperation with other countries? Would you oppose the efforts because it meant government involvement and action, which went against your political beliefs about small government?

  45. sailrick says:

    Oh I know, lets just let the market fix it.

  46. homunq says:

    Your kid’s asthma is getting worse. The doctor says she’s allergic to the rats which are attracted by the cake crumbs on your floor. The baker shows you a website which says she’ll grow out of it, and besides, it’s good cake. Who do you believe?

    “That big black thing is a train coming. We should get off of these tracks.”
    “Yeah, right. You had the same prediction when you heard a whistle, and look, we’re fine.”

    Here at Exxon Mobil, we care about the planet. That’s why we’re working to let our customers know about the threat of the Global Warming conspiracy. It’s not just the scientists, lying for the grant money. Actually, they don’t even exist. The so called “science” teachers made them up, just so they’d have something to “teach”, and nobody’s telling you.

  47. Anne says:

    This one is borrowed from a university professor and old friend, to explain to the average person on the street why unpredictable weather patterns don’t disprove an overall warming trend.

    If you drop a piece of paper (it’s a good idea to stand up and hold up and then let go of a flat piece of paper to demonstrate), it’s nearly impossible to predict the exact set of motions it will follow on it’s way to the floor. But whether or not it will hit the floor is not in question. And so it is with weather patterns and climate change.

  48. Anne says:

    As for humor, no one does it better than Will Farrell imitating George W. Bush (remember that guy?), as in this YouTube video:

    The entire transcript is too long for a pithy joke but one set of lines pops out:
    Bush, standing outside against a fence: “I’m sure by now you’ve all heard what liberal scientists are trying to say, it seems that liberals and godless tax-raisers are trying to make me look bad by using such things as facts and scientific data.” (Camera man interrupts: “Cut. You can’t say they’re using facts, you know, facts are real, I mean they’re not disputed.” Bush/Farrell shoots back, “How do YOU know that?”

  49. Anne says:

    Here is an excellent paper addressing the use of metaphor when talking about climate change, from UC-Berkeley:
    “Who Will Cry For the Ice? A Preliminary Sketch of Metaphorical Framing and Conceptual Understanding in Climate Change Terminology” by Carter Brooks, 2005.

  50. JeandeBegles says:

    I will take the time for searching for nuggets in the previous comments, because indeed metaphor is a powerfull way of communication.
    hereunder a short list of sentences I like to use in specific situations

    about denialism, 3 propositions:
    The Old Guard cannot hear the ice cracking
    A good news and a bad news: Humanity is not running to his disaster, humanity is driving there.
    Who would embark in a plane with 10% odds to get safe on arrival.

    About carbon pricing and cap and trade, instead of a carbon tax (Joe will not like this one):
    The business sector: “Give us the money or we kill the planet!”

    About volontary offset
    It is like paying an extra in a public pool, the extra allowing us for peeing while swimming.

    Sorry for the broken translation, you surely can improve this part.

  51. Heraclitus says:

    What’s the difference between TVMOB and a transvestite’s knickers?

    One pretends that it’s a member of a house but the other pretends that it doesn’t house a member.

  52. Rob R says:

    The problem with the invisable hand is that it has no brain. . . or heart for that matter.

  53. Rob R says:

    Sorry, that should be “invisible hand”. duh.

  54. PSU Grad says:

    I saw a “joke” just last evening. It was what appeared to be a new weekend weathercaster at a local TV station known to harbor some global warming/climate change deniers. Here’s what he said during a “tease” in the 10 PM hour: “When will it finally get warm? I’ll have those details at 11”.

    “When will it finally get warm”???? Here are temperature variances (using the average temperature value for a day) for each day so far in April: 10, 13, 11, 13, 16, 24, 22, 19, -1, 3, 6, 4, -6, -2, 5, 15, -2, -6.

    When will it FINALLY get warm??? Was he expecting us to forget what happened two weeks ago? I’m thinking about how to approach this with the station, but don’t want to seem like a “crank”.

  55. Katri says:

    I’d like to abuse a quote from a favorite movie, Terminator:

    Climate change is happening. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until the world as we know it is dead.

    Like the terminator in the movie, we made climate change. And like in the movie, we can also stop it.

    The difference is that we know how to stop climate change. We don’t have to try again and again until we find something that works.

    Take out the climate change machine’s energy source, fossil fuels, and the world will go (slowly) back to normal.

  56. Anne says:

    I vote for #54!! (though, it’s a little R rated….)

  57. TAFL says:

    Here is an attack on the common denialist logical fallacy that says “climate has changed before therefore current climate change must be natural”. This is equivalent to the claim that because lightning has started bushfires in the past, no modern bushfire is ever started by arsonists.

  58. Robbert says:

    The greatest joke or rather ‘Joker’ that came to my mind is actually shared between two people. The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley (TVMOB) is first followed by our finest Hoaxer of all time, Senator James Inhofe! You can’t dream up a greater vaudeville act than these two clowns provide. For sure they missed their calling. I see them as the greatest joke ever if it weren’t for the diabolical intent to deceive the world by the spin they think will sell at TRUTH.

    My favorite metaphor has to be, “How quickly the puppet learns the dance!” This phrase points to how easily some in Congress accept pay [campaign donations] to sing the tunes written by the K Street lobby crowd. Oh … what shame!

  59. Kevin says:

    On IPCC errors (himalyan melting and dutch flooding):

    “Two typos in a headline is unforgivable – two errors in an encyclopedia is a miracle of good editing. Which one reflects the work of the IPCC?”

  60. Daniel Ives says:

    Most of us would never consider playing Russian Roulette with one bullet in a six-shooter pistol. Yet we are currently playing a game of Russian Roulette with our climate, except instead there are 19 bullets in a 20-round pistol (equivalent to 95%).

    [JR: Yes, Russian Roulette is one I’ve used in the past. Need to use again.]

  61. Alan says:

    “Global warming pollution. Some say it’s a laugh. We say it’s a gas!”

    “Global warming denialism. We need to grab this bull by the tail and look it straight in the eye.”

  62. johna says:

    Baltasar Gracian, SJ {advice for JR}: When you counsel someone, you should appear to be reminding him of something he had forgotten, not of the light he was unable to see.

    {e.g. not -} . . . No drugstore has a pill against idiocy
    Yoram Baumann – Climate tells you what clothes to buy, weather tells you what clothes to wear.
    prokaryote 2.20.10 on CP “If there were a typo in The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin, would that nullify the theory of evolution?”
    Stephen Schneider ON NPR with Ira Flatow 2.19.10 Re: politics / Science is not a democracy. It’s a meritocracy. Your ideas have to have evidence, and while we have so in our world, quality trumps equality. A lot of people don’t trust us because there’s an entry barrier to get in, but remember, science has two components. There’s risk, what can happened, multiplied times the odds. That’s the science part where we fight it out.
    Cardinal Baronius (Vatican Librarian before Galileo) “The Bible doesn’t tell you how the heavens go, the Bible tells you how to go to Heaven.”
    Terence [Publius Terentius Afer], c. 190-159 BC) There is a demand today for men who can make wrong appear right.
    Baltasar Gracian The wise man does at once what the fool does at last. The Art of Worldly Wisdom (1647)
    Groucho Marx Why should I care about posterity? What has posterity ever done for me?
    . . . . . Nature Always Bats Last
    Hugo Chavez If the climate was a bank, a capitalist bank, they would have saved it.
    Sir David King The world is spending $1,700bn (£1,020bn) a year on oil from the Gulf states. If we used that money to invest in alternative energy suppliers we could more than manage the problem.
    Edmund Burke The public interest requires doing today those things that men of intelligence and goodwill would wish, five or ten years hence, had been done.
    Edmund Burke “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”
    Edward Abbey – growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell
    Terry Murphy SolarReserve Pres : ‘ Molten salt is the secret sauce ‘
    Prof Katherine Richardson, U Copenhagen “climate change is not a prediction problem—scientists understand that—it’s a risk problem.”
    R. F. Kennedy, Jr. “[Americans are] probably the best entertained and least informed people in the world,”
    Aragorn (LOTR)
    Aragorn: Are you frightened?
    Frodo: Yes.
    Aragorn: Not nearly frightened enough. I know what hunts you.
    John Maynard Keynes once wrote: a “sound banker” is one who, “when he is ruined, is ruined in a conventional and orthodox way.”
    John Gardner Common Cause We are continually faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems. —
    M. King Hubbert “Our ignorance is not as vast as our failure to use what we know”.
    Paul Ehrlich – The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the natural systems of the planet.
    Saying the economy is in too bad a state to worry about the environment is like saying my hair is falling out to fast for me to worry about my heart disease

  63. Fred Teal says:

    Well, I spent quite a bit of time last night and today looking for the key point of global warming. I tried prose, but it kept coming out poetry. I finally gave up and wrote it all down:

    Stealing our Children’s Future

    “The essential things in life are seen not with the eyes, but with the heart.”
    “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint Exupéry

    We are stealing our children’s future and,
    We are making them pay the bill.
    Barrel by barrel, dollar by dollar, we seal their fate.
    Riches pour forth from our land,
    Fueled by carbon, financed with borrowed money.

    We have mortgaged our children’s future,
    The bill will be theirs to pay.
    Some people they owe are ruthless,
    They rule by severing hands or feet.
    But for us, comfort and wealth abound.
    Economic growth without end. AMEN.

    Is this not OUR Garden of Eden.
    Is the earth not OURS to command?
    Were we not given dominion over all?
    Who dares to challenge our taking?
    Who dares to change our way?

    Oceans and earth seemed boundless.
    Who says we were we not entitled?
    Trees, fish, minerals, land and water,
    Everywhere ripe for the taking.

    The innocent bought off with trinkets
    We deemed their life so plain,
    This “showing respect for the earth.”
    Now, many wish we had heeded
    A lesson they knew from birth.

    We rubbed the lamp of stored sunlight and
    Ignited The Age of Fire. Carbon in
    Magical engines driving the economy
    Extracting and creating wealth fit for kings
    Burning and wasting without end. AMEN.

    “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

    AWAY was once found everywhere
    Our numbers were modest and small.
    The air was fresh, the land was clean and
    The water was crystalline pure.
    It was a Garden of Eden,
    There was enough for all.

    Then, we were fruitful and multiplied.
    Was this not God’s command?
    Human life was sacred, we said
    Who among us would ignore divine injunction?
    As for other life forms, we are not so sure.

    Has not God truly blessed us?
    Have we not prospered and grown?
    Our number now many billions,
    Many rich like kings on a throne.

    Many more hope to become rich too.
    Fueling their dreams with fires of carbon,
    Risking their lives in the bowels of the earth.
    By what right do we deny them their share?

    But, things have been changing.
    Plastic now covers the oceans,
    Warming gasses now fill the sky.
    Waste is hidden by holes in the earth, and
    Streams of sweet water are fouled and run dry.
    We never paid the full cost, but
    Our children will get the whole bill.

    AWAY does not exist anymore,
    The waste is everywhere with us.
    It fills land, air and sea.
    It warms and smothers the earth.

    Earth shakes constantly, struggling to breathe
    While vast plumes mount to the sky,
    Her agony has stopped our beautiful flying machines.
    If we become quiet and still,
    Can we hear her voice?
    Perhaps she is trying to tell us something.

    Extremes are everywhere.
    Heat is melting the ice,
    Fresh water is swelling the oceans.
    Some rivers are running dry.
    Storms have become worse with the heating,
    Rain pours down from the sky.

    The earth begs with parched lips for drink.
    Creatures large and small have nowhere to hide.
    We have burned the forests and planted the soil
    We have left no cool place for them to abide.
    Left homeless, they perish by millions,
    Overwhelmed by the warm swelling tide.

    We scarcely note their passing.
    Even the children, not of our seed
    With flies and tears on their faces.
    Hearts become hard like Pharaohs of old.
    There is no end to the greed.

    We are like children in a garden,
    Picking flowers with wild abandon.
    We have carelessly torn the Web of Life,
    Not seeing we were part of the whole.
    Are we part of the earth, or not?
    The answer could change all our goals.

    Can we have missed the true message?
    Should we replace or pass on all that we take?
    Do we know what it takes to sustain our earth?
    What must we do to live in this place?

    Rumi once said:
    “Sit, be still and listen, because you’re drunk
    And we’re at the edge of the roof!”

    We have drunk deeply from carbon’s riches.
    We can scarcely see where we stand.
    We must sit and listen while there is yet time
    To avoid leaving a parched and dying land.

    We are stealing our children’s future,
    We have mortgaged them to the hilt.
    What shall we say, as we must?
    How shall we answer when they ask:

  64. Dan B says:

    The Dust Bowl and founding of the Soil Erosion Service (Soil Conservation Service & others) seems the perfect metaphor since it paints indelible imagery, links to great stories like ‘The Grapes of Wrath’, and pays homage to the fiscally conservative and responsible generation that emerged from the crisis.

    Soil erosion and “the breaking of the prarie” in the center of the US in the 30’s resulted in the Dust Bowl. Because of a short lived wet spell in the 20’s thousands were lulled into the belief that the great praries were an eden. Our most important agricultural states were nearly decimated. It bankrupted farmers, uprooted communities, and led to strife wherever the displaced tried to resettle. Dust clouds from Oklahoma and Texas swept millions of tons of soil into the Atlantic Ocean off New York and DC. Visionary leaders of the time instituted the recommendations of soil scientists and agricultural researchers. Under the leadership of Harold Ickes they established the Soil Erosion Service and other institutions that minimized the worst practices and restored millions of acres to viability. Its contribution helped make the United States one of the most agriculturally productive and prosperous countries on the planet.

    We face a similar threat to the heartland. Climate change threatens to make rainfall patterns wilder and less predictable from year to year. We’ll be watching Canada as it faces the possibility of drought nearly from coast to coast.

    The great generation that weathered the Dust Bowl, Depression, and WWII are a distant voice and few in number. Would they counsel us to take cautionary measures and to trust the near unanimous voices of world scientists?

  65. Theodore says:

    Burning fossil fuels is like breaking up the furniture to feed the fireplace because it’s easier than going out to the woodpile.

    Only fossils like fossil fuels.

  66. Alex Carlin says:

    Our Car is Careening over the Climate Cliff. Lets put on the brakes, lets turn it around. Lets not push down on the accelerator.

  67. Dan B says:

    From Information is Beautiful – current events graphic:

    Cancelling 60% of the flights in Europe reduces CO2 emissions by more than 200,000 Tons per day. Eyjaf…kull (the Iceland one) Volcano is emitting less than that per day – 150,000 Tons.

    All airtrips in Europe are more than double the volcano – 344,000 Tons.

  68. wag says:

    Also, here’s a post I wrote a while back on “How is Peyton Manning like global warming?”

    The answer: cherry-picking 1998 to prove global cooling is like looking at Peyton Manning’s (then) record TD year in 2004 and saying he’s been in decline ever since.

  69. wag says:

    Per my last comment, Peyton Manning’s rookie year was, coincidentally, 1998.

  70. Md says:

    Does anyone have any historical analogies/comparisons against the argument: “We have heaps of low-cost coal. Therefore we should just keep digging.” ?

    Something along the lines of the “The Stone Age didn’t end due to a lack of stone” would be good.

  71. Steve O says:

    How about:
    Continuing along the same path of inaction on climate is exactly like continuing to fly into the known danger of the volcano ash and then counting the planes that fall out of the sky to determine the risk.

    I like this analogy. There are real but difficult to quantify risks related to flying through volcano ash. Strong and immediate action was taken to significantly reduce those risks at large economic costs even though we were not 100% certain how large the risks were.

    Would we be willing to fly planes if there were even a 1 in 1000 chance of their engines stopping? No way; that would be a couple of dozen flights per day that would crash. One in 10,000? More than 1 per week.

    What odds do we need that climate change will result in significant damage before we take action?

  72. Richard Brenne says:

    I work to get people to look at the really big picture and to do the full-cost accounting that leaves nothing out of the equation, especially synthesizing Climate Change and Peak Oil.

    As you know Jane Lubchenco testified before Congress last December 3 that Ocean Acidification is Climate Change “evil twin.” I’d say that those two, Resource Depletion (including Peak Oil), Species Loss and Social Injustice are the evil quints of their evil parents, overpopulation and overconsumption.

    I also say that Peak Oil is the jab that breaks our nose (and in some ways already has), while Climate Change is the uppercut that can knock us out for good.

    My own carefully developed elevator speech:

    Welcome! We’re taking the express elevator to the roof of this 100 story skyscraper!

    We’ve just passed the 15th floor, which can symbolize that temperatures have risen 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit over the last century! Imagine all the impacts of increased heat, drought, rain, snow and wind storms that’s meant!

    But you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

    We’ve taken fossil fuels sequestered in the Earth’s crust for hundreds of millions of years and burned a good percentage of them in just a few hundred years! In fact within the last few decades we’ve burned more than in all human history before then!

    We have about 600 coal power plants in the U.S. and each burns about a mile-long train a day, so that’s a 600 mile-long train of coal we burn every day! The world burns a coal train over 3,600 miles long every day! We put the weight of the biggest cruise ship of CO2 into the atmosphere every six minutes! Too bad it’s invisible CO2 instead because actual cruise ships hovering over us might make us do something!

    (At this point almost everyone on the elevator is trying to push the button of a floor to make the elevator and especially me stop, but I block them out like Charles Barkley – and I mean with his current physique.)

    All that CO2 in the atmosphere has to have an effect and it does! The oceans could become too acidic for plankton to survive and support the food chain! Sea level rise has been measured in inches but it could soon be measured in feet or if Americans ever understand the metric system, in meters! Say good-bye to much of what you see here in New York, and essentially all of South Florida and the entire Gulf Coast! The destructive 1.5 degree temperature rise we’ve seen over the last century could come in a decade or even less! It could easily raise temperatures 10 degrees or more just this century alone!

    That’s like going to the 100th floor, which we just past! Now let’s go out on the roof!

    Look down! Now imagine being blindfolded and so ignorant – I mean Sarah Palin-James Inhofe-Glenn Beck ignorant – that you don’t know that falling from a great height can hurt you! You might even find it exhilarating! That’s what we’re doing! And when we hit the ground, it will no longer be exhilarating! That’s the tipping point where the climate runs away toward that of Venus, which is 850 degrees!

    This is what Jim Hansen, the scientist who knows more about the atmospheres of Venus and Earth than anyone says he’s “Dead certain” will happen if we just keep doing what we’re doing and burning all fossil fuels!

    So stop it!

    (Thus concludes pretty much the worst elevator ride ever. I’ve never seen a group of people so eager to take a hundred flights of stairs – they actually beat the express elevator back down. My elevator operator job is now under serious review here at ExxonMobil.)

  73. Chester says:

    global warming is like something even a Republican can understand: the stock market.

    Over the short-term it goes up and down, like the temperature outside. Over the long-term, it goes in only one direction, up.

  74. J4zonian says:

    revision of #27:

    How many climate deniers does it take to change a light bulb?

    None, because they’ll never agree it needs changing until it’s too dark to find it.

  75. J4zonian says:

    I’d like to offer some other revisions, thanks to the original contributors. Remember, when communicitatorizing,




    The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the ecology.

    Saying the economy is in too bad a state to worry about ecology is like saying my wrinkles are getting so bad I can’t treat my heart disease.

    (hair falling out fast, as in the original, makes me think of radiation sickness; not the harmless image we want here. Also, Rogaine was originally a heart medication so it could complicate and confuse the issue…)


    Civilization has 2 choices:
    give up coal or take up yoga,
    because if we don’t stop global warming we’ll need to be flexible enough to kiss our asses goodbye.


    The problem with the invisible hand is the invisible brain and heart it may or may not be attached to.


    Nuclear power without a solution to the waste problem is like a full convention center without a toilet. Only radioactive.


    What’s the difference between TVMOB and a transvestite’s knickers?
    One [is] a member of a house, the other pretends that it doesn’t house a member.


    Answer to Md: There’s no such thing as cheap coal. There’s only coal that seems cheap because the books are cooked and we’re not very good at math. And non-dirty coal doesn’t exist. (never ever use the c…..coal phrase)


    Climate denial in 2010 is like the guy who jumps from the roof of a 30-story building and decides as he passes the 25th floor that all those people who tried to stop him were just wrong!

    If you think denialism is for the seriously reality-impaired now, just wait til you see who’s still at it 25 years—or 25 floors—from now.

  76. Eli Rabett says:

    Eli’s Elevator Speech

    We are conducting an uncontrolled experiment that is altering the land, the air and the oceans. Everything we know says it will end badly,what we don’t know is when, so it’s you, your kid, or their kids at risk. You can do something about it.