“Climate Calamity” Rejected In Favor Of “Climate Disruption”

President Obama’s White House has been hard at work trying to discover another term for global warming. The old phrase was deemed staid and passé, so much so that its repetition was judged unlikely to motivate political forces any more than it already has.

The term climate change has, our sources have guessed, similarly outworn its usefulness. Something entirely new was needed. And not just new, but zippy, memorable; a phrase likely to instill a burning desire for ordinary folk to vote Democrat in this November’s election.

According to Fox News, NASA responded to Mr Obama’s plea with the offering inadvertent climate modification. This was rejected as quaint and because it smacked of “accidentalism.” John Holdren

That is, NASA’s phrase made it sound like global warming was caused by somebody tripping over something “inadvertently”, and thus any change in the climate could be righted easily. And if making things right were easy, new votes, money, laws, and bureaucracy wouldn’t be needed. NASA was told to return to its primary duty of “outreaching” to Muslims.

Mr Obama thought his team could do better. This was, after all, the very administration, Fox reminds, that brought us “man-caused disaster” and “overseas contingency operation.” Mr Obama pushed for new ideas.

Our sources were not privy to the insider discussion that surely occurred, but what must have happened was that Mr Obama dispatched John Holdren—the White House’s “science” advisor—to England, and there Mr Holdren surely visited the grave of Eric Arthur Blair (d. 1950) for inspiration.

As is well known, Blair was the master at manipulating words so that politicians could engage in friendly, benign motivation. It is not known how long “science” advisor Holdren lingered in England, but we do know that he was next spotted in Oslo displaying PowerPoint slides to random Norwegians, slides which told of his new and improved phrase.

That phrase is global climate disruption™ Holdren did not whether his (possible) visit to Blair allowed him to think up this new slogan, but he did say that global warming was a “(dangerous) misnomer” (the parentheses are Mr Holdren’s). Holdren also provides the first acknowledgement from an administration official that phrase global warming is “mainly about temperature” and implies any climate change is “quite possibly benign.”

Mr Holdren, because he is a “science” advisor, built the case for the new phrase meticulously. For example, in his PowerPoint slides, he told the Norwegians (via bullet point) that “Without climate there is no environment”, a statement which is surely true.

He built on this rock of truth with “Without economy and environment there is no material well‐being, no civil society, no personal or national security”, which is as sound a chain of reasoning as found since Aristotle. Figuring that Norwegians might not understand what climate meant, Holdren went on to say that climate is the thing that affects the “prevalence of oppressive heat & humidity,” the “productivity of farms forests & fisheries,” and so forth.

With the basic facts laid out before him, Holdren reminded his audience that “All science is contingent; there are always uncertainties & needs for refinement. And there’s always a chance that new observations & analyses will not just refine but overturn previous conclusions.” He then warned of impending doom, said that the science guaranteed this doom, and that it was “highly unlikely that new data or insights will alter these findings in a fundamental way.”

But do not despair, he chided. The glorious Seas-Beginning-To-Recede Obama Administration has a strategy, whose first priority is to “Put climate-change leaders in key positions”. Doubtless assuming he will be one of these keystones, Holdren again put forth his nomenclature: Global climate disruption™ It is clear Holdren reveled in his creation; he must expect that it will be sewn onto environmentalist flags everywhere. Time will tell.

Still, one has to wonder why he rejected the more clearly obvious climate calamity. This slogan has the benefit of being euphonious and alliterative. It is therefore easily remembered. One could look forward to the day, for example, of the creation of the Climate Calamity Civil Patrol, the CCCP, a group which will ticket citizens for anti-environmental activities. And it is just more fun to say “Climate Calamity cops” than “Global climate disruption™ police.”

However, I am a mere scientist and Holdren is a “science” advisor, so it is likely his insight into this topic is more valuable.


  1. Chuckles

    I still think he should have gone for the short, zippy, organic, free-range, natural choice – why not call it – ‘climate’, or ‘weather’?

    ‘However, I am a mere scientist and Holdren is a “science” advisor, so it is likely his insight into this topic is more valuable.’

    How confident are you of this assertion? Have you worked out the probability?

  2. Chuckles,

    There are 2 probabilities to consider here. 1) Whether Holdren’s insight is more valuable than Mr. Briggs’ would be. 2) Whether Holdren’s insight will be listened to over Mr. Briggs’. Just going on observations made over the last two years or so, I’d put those numbers near 5% and 99% respectively.

    Maybe I missed something. Mr. Briggs, you aren’t secretly a czar of something to this administration are you? No? I stand by my numbers then.

  3. poiuyt

    If this should be called “climate calamity”, does that mean Holdren should be called “calamity John”?

  4. Speed

    Re: Climate-Change Leaders

    Shouldn’t they be looking for “Climate-No-Change Leaders?”

    Re: Climate Calamity

    Climate Change — three syllables
    Global Warming — four syllables
    Climate Disruption — five syllables
    Climate Calamity — six syllables

    “Climate Change” is the most accurate description, the least worrisom message and snappiest phrase. “Climate Calamity” is the least accurate and at six syllables it neither leaps off the tongue nor lends itself to posters and placards. A long catch phrase works best if it includes some clever alliteration. “Sorry Charley” “Hell no! We won’t go!” “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.” “Don’t be vague. Ask for Haig.” “The quicker picker upper.” “A little dab’ll do ya.” “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is.”

    Perhaps our kind host can organize a contest …

  5. max

    Calamity, while having a bit more punch, fails for the same reason warming had to be discarded – it has a quantifiable value.

    What happens if for next ten years there is no significantly calamitous weather? People will stop believing in climate calamity. Climate disruption is much better, because in the unlikely event that there are no significant weather events it is just proof of how disrupted the climate has been, while if the weather is terrible then it is also proof of disruption.

  6. Ray

    Global warming, climate change and climate disruption are too innocuous sounding. As Max said, they need something more with punch like climate disaster or climate catastrophe.

  7. My choice of term would be “Climate Grift”. Let’s call it what it is. It’s a way for the conniving to swindle money from the trusting. Nothing more and nothing less.
    Noted in passing Bobman is approximately 94% sure of something.

  8. Couldn’t let this pass: At one point science adviser Holdren’s PPS states:

    “Wildfires in the Western USA have increased 6-fold in the last 30 years.”

    Curiously, about 40 years ago “ecology grifters” held their breath and turned blue until federal and state foresters, acting against tradition and all advice from naturalists, agreed to stop the practice of conducting routine controlled “burns” to renew forests and open up key new growth areas, plus provide important feeding and bedding zones for the critters living within. And now there’s more fuel burning every year? Wow! Who’d a thunk that would ever backfire?

  9. Peter Wilson

    True, Holdren is a dangerous dystopian, intent on twisting the language to obscure its real meaning.

    But it’s hardly fair to blame George Orwell, he may have been left wing, but he was totally opposed to that kind of doublespeak – he even invented the word for it.

  10. Bernie

    George Orwell had a great disdain for hypocrits and those who thought they knew it all.

  11. bob

    The phrase climate calamity has power in that it is catchy, descriptive, and all the stuff Briggs talked about. Climate disruption sounds like a date gone bad.

    It’s all about marketing, anyway.

    I just checked GoDaddy for availability of those domain names, and both climatecalamity.com and climatedisruption.com are taken. Somebody might be launching another climate site, soon.

    The domain name, clilmatedystopia.com is available if anyone is interested.

    Sorry about the domain name, stuff. I spent the weekend searching for domain names.

  12. I have to agree with Speed. I think “Climate Change” is the most accurate description.

    “Climate Calamity” sounds like a phony political scare tactic — although there have been worse political scare tactics, i.e.”Axis of Evil”. “Climate Disruption” sounds very technical, like only scientists could understand it. If I had to choose between the two, I must agree that “Climate Calamity” has more punch.

    Climate change is having disastrous affects — look at the floods in Pakistan, record-breaking temperatures affecting farmers’ ability to grow crops, rising sea levels, etc.

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