back to article Malcolm Gladwell, tipping points and Climategate

Best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell had a powerful impact on the way climate change was marketed to the public, without even knowing it. Gladwell's marketing book, published in 2000, embedded the phrase "tipping point" into the public's imagination, and this in turn was used to raise the urgency of climate change. It seems …


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  1. Aaron Em

    Cue howling

    To suggest that the human species is *not* a pestilence upon the nobly suffering visage of the Mother-Planet Gaia?

    Careful, Orlowski, they'll be picking you out a lamp-post before long...

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Cue howling


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ah, Gaia...

      The religion for people who worship potatoes and the sun.

      1. Richard Wharram

        Ah - you've just fleshed out some of my comments on the Gaia-lady article. Where's my commission ? :)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It seems strange to me that modern politicians would listen to a German telling them we need to kill 6/7ths of the Earth's population to give the rest enough Lebensraum.

    1. Armando 123

      Not really, that's the instinct of the political classes. Scratch a politician and you'll find a dictator.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Godwin in two. Well done, you're so original.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I blame the Christians

    For hundreds of years we've been preached to by "the high lords" that we are all bad and should be ashamed of our innate evilness. It is hardly surprising that people in the western world naturally see it as the proper nature of things that we must be decimating the planet despite the rather dubious evidence.

    Perhaps if we all flog ourselves, perhaps the planet will feel better for it...

    1. n4blue
      Thumb Down

      hang on a minute

      Christians have been (perhaps rightly) blamed by the greens for 'decimating the planet', what with God giving Adam and Eve 'dominion' over the earth.

      You can't have it both ways.

      1. Aaron Em

        Sure you can!

        Because it's a doctrinal conflict. The greens *are* Christians, though they haven't admitted it even to themselves for the better part of a century; in fact the word 'progressive' in its modern sense originates from the phrase "Progressive Christianity", which was the name used by the ancestors of the modern progressive movement -- that is, back before the movement abandoned any concept of God as an adaptive mutation increasing its chances of gaining the political power necessary to attempt to implement its program. (Worked out pretty well for 'em, too.)

        Think I'm full of it? If you've been raised on Whig history and nothing else, I don't blame you; I was raised that way myself, and I'd have thought I was full of it too. Before you write me off completely as a Bircher or tinfoil-hat type or both, though, you might Google "American Malvern" and read the Time article that should come up first in the results. (If you don't have a subscription, use the 'print this article' option to dodge the paywall.)

        That's the program adopted in 1942 by the members of the US Federal Council of Churches, a Protestant ecumenical organization -- and it is also, in every essential and most every detail as well, the program of every progressive political organization in existence today, whether they admit the inheritance or not. (They don't. And if you're wondering what this has to do with the UK, then read about the original Anglican conference at Malvern College in 1941, from which the so-called 'American Malvern' drew its inspiration.)

        Which is where the greens come in, because "environmental stewardship" has long been a part of the Protestant theology as well -- that is, the idea that humanity has a responsibility to keep the planet neat and tidy, because Jesus is coming back some day and he'll be pissed if the place looks like a bunch of teenagers used it for a house party. When the rest of mainstream Protestantism mutated away from religion and toward secular power, that strain came along as well, giving us wonderful things like superstitious terror on the subject of nuclear power, a bloody-minded insistence on eggbeaters for all, and the elevation of Thomas Malthus to the college of saints.

        So what we're looking at here is not "the greens blaming the Christians"; it's "the Progressive faction of Christianity, which is currently very much in the ascendant, kicking the Traditionalist faction, which has been losing out for at least a century." Sectarian triumphalism really never does go out of style, especially not when decades of increasingly hegemonic Whig historiography have painted it not as a sectarian religious conflict at all, but rather as some kind of Tolkien-meets-George-Lucas warfare, with the scrappy good guys always just on the edge of being overwhelmed by the oncoming tide of evil.

        1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: Sure you can!

          Christianity does not require human sacrifice. The philosophy espoused Mr Schellnburger CBE does, however - and perhaps he has done everyone a service by specifying exactly how much of a sacrifice is needed.

          85.8% to be precise.

          1. Aaron Em

            Christianity may not

            but I'm certainly willing to argue that modern whiggery does.

            The US is one of the three countries which has since 1945 made the most noise about the excesses of the National Socialist movement, of course, and what is for obvious reasons very rarely mentioned at all by anyone in the United States is that the excesses of the National Socialist movement, especially in the earlier "Action T4" days, were to a very great degree inspired by the excesses of the eugenics movement, which is absolutely and entirely the brainchild of the United States' own "Progressive Era". (Nice name, that, implying that the condition no longer obtains.)

            As for Herr Schnellnhuber CBE himself, I find myself fairly comfortable describing him as a whig, not least because one does not expect to find, among the greatest and the goodest of the AGW movement, a regressive-minded sort who'd be likely to scruple before suggesting the deliberate slaughter, whether directly by fire and the sword or indirectly through unchecked famine and disease, nearly nine in ten of all the humans now living.

            Dr. Johnson, everyone's favorite old monster of a Tory, said that the first Whig was the Devil; Albert Speer, everyone's favorite thoughtful Nazi, wrote that you can't expect to recognize the Devil when he puts his hand on your shoulder -- and whiggery, or progressivism if you prefer that name, has already amassed quite a sizable mountain of skulls over just the last hundred years or so. (Say what you like about the Romanovs, but I doubt very much they'd have let a mad murderer like Jugashvili anywhere *near* power.)

            Whose hand, I wonder, is on Herr Schnellnhuber's shoulder right now?

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Re: Sure you can!

            Not wanting to pick holes in the good arguments you present, but a small correction here:

            Hebrews 9:28 "So Christ was sacrified once to take away the sins of many people"

            Christianity exists because of the sacrifice of one man.

          3. John 62

            human sacrifice

            Christianity only required _one_ human sacrifice.


    2. Armando 123

      I blame the Danes

      Severn Darden did this while working in the comedy troupe that became Second City back in the 50s. He told Elaine May that he wanted to offend a group that had never been offended before and chose the Danes, because what was there to object to about the Danes?

      So every show, he would take at least one time to spout off about the horrid, nasty, evil, dastardly Danes ... particularly as his character Professer Walter von der Vogelweider.

      At one point, the Danish consul in Chicago wrote a letter asking what had happened to make him feel that way and if he could help Darden in any way.

      So blame the Danes, you might get the autograph of an ambassador.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "If you are of the view that mankind is a disturbance to a natural order, you're much more likely to believe in runaway effects. If you're of the view that nature is here to be tamed for our benefit – an idea born out of the Enlightenment – you're more likely not to panic."

    The opposite is more nearly true, surely. The noble savage is an Enlightenment conceit.

  5. Chad H.

    How a marketing buzzword changed the world

    I presume you mean -Gate?

  6. Scott 19

    It's a shame...

    ...that the only people held accountable in this modern world are generally the ones at the bottom.

    Be nice if the bums that perpetuated this CAGW scam would actually end up with some sort of reckoning.

    Oh well back to paying for someone else's pension.

  7. Mikel


    It seems there may yet be a dawn of reason.

  8. Microphage

    re: FOIA2011

    "Two-year old turkey"

    "Climategate Searchable Database"

  9. yoinkster

    "he saw human beings as the planet's enemy – and the planet must come before human life"

    see this is where I get annoyed the most. We as a species are not going to effect the existence of the planet. We may effect the planet to the point where we make it uninhabitable for us (not saying we will, but you for the sake of argument, we *could*) but one thing's for certain, the planet won't care and will continue to be here for an exceptionally long period of time way after we've died out.

    The absolute best the climate change believers could convince me of is that we might ruin the planet for ourselves. You'll never ever convince me that we are going to somehow make this rock disappear. You'll never convince me that we make a significant and measurable difference to the planet anyway, but that's an entirely different matter.

    1. Armando 123

      Quite right

      "but one thing's for certain, the planet won't care and will continue to be here for an exceptionally long period of time way after we've died out."

      Anyone who's seen a tornado will agree with that. We just don't matter and the planet/sun/universe doesn't care one way or the other. Then again, there seems to be a teenager-like egocentrism among the ecomentalists that means they don't get this and they don't get that they don't get this.

    2. Tom 13

      Oh, I wouldn't go so far as to say we could NEVER

      destroy the planet. I think using enough of you icons in reality could do that. But we haven't yet, and those are the only way I think we could destroy the planet.

      1. Aaron Em

        A planet's a mighty big thing

        Bigger than that. No, bigger. Bigger still. Big enough you can't even imagine unless you try very hard. I mean, you may think it's a big trip down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to planets. Listen...

        ...put it this way. Even if we had big enough bombs, and could put as many of them as we liked anywhere we liked within the mass of the planet -- neither of which is true -- even if we could, by so doing, shatter the planet, it *still* wouldn't be enough to destroy it, because gravity would just stick it all back together in exactly the same way it did when the planet coalesced in the first place; in order to truly say you've destroyed a planet, you must scatter that mass widely enough, and at high enough velocity, that it can't come back together under its own power, and that takes a *lot* more energy than just shattering the planet to begin with.

        So, in short, don't worry about it! At most we can wipe ourselves out, and frankly even that contention strikes me as wildly hubristic.

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