Many’s the time I have inveighed against allowing our popular clichés to do our thinking for us. Once a new figure of speech takes hold, such as “the perfect storm,” or even better, “tipping point,” it tends to get overused, and soon comes to be regarded as the acme of probity. There is no scientific basis for supposing there is a “tipping point” of climate change after which the parade of apocalyptic horrors will commence, but the tipping point imagery proved too irresistible to the climate campaigners and their toadies in the media, who promptly ran it into the ground.
Hence a few years ago I did a Nexis search of the basic news database for the basic terms “climate change” and “tipping point,” and generated the graph below of the year-on-year trend. Strange: it looks a bit like a hockey stick! (Heh.) It’s a perfect storm of tipping points!
This comes to mind on account of Andrew Orlowski’s terrific column in the UK Register newspaper the other day commenting on this very same point, and walking through how it has become so counterproductive for the climate campaign. Worth reading the whole thing.
JOE adds: Intrigued as I typically am by Steve’s observations above, I thought I’d ask Google–with its tremendous database of scanned books–how “the perfect storm,” which I think is a hideous phrase, has been deployed through the centuries. Here is the chart:
Tip of the hat to Eugene Volokh, who showed me Google’s ngrams tool in the course of answering what I (in my foolishness) thought was a pretty difficult English usage question.