Take the chapter about Mother Nature, which opens with a story about a day in July, 2015 when the heat index in southern Iran reached 163 degrees. That news item gives the author an opening to introduce the concept of a "black elephant," an ominous (if you know Friedman) term apparently explained to him by environmentalist Adam Sweidan:
"[It is] a cross between a 'black swan' - a rare, low-probability, unanticipated event with enormous ramifications - and 'the elephant in the room': a problem that is widely visible to everyone, yet that no one wants to address, even though we absolutely know that one day it will have vast, black-swan-like consequences."
You would think he could just say, "The climate change problem is a cross between a black swan and the elephant in the room - or, as I like to call it, a Black Elephant."
Instead he leads audiences through drawn-out explanations of two everyday terms. Moreover his unnecessary definition of "the elephant in the room" contains the phrase "black swan," making what was originally a relatively simple idea now a kind of circular movie-within-a-movie image that is more than a little hard to follow: "A black elephant is a cross between a black swan event and the elephant in the room, which is an ignored but visibly obvious problem that will inevitably become a black swan event."
You're still grappling with that when you learn "there are a herd of environmental black elephants out there."
Did you know that "megatoothed sharks prowled the oceans" the last time the CO2 concentration in the earth's atmosphere was as high as it was in Hawaii on May 3rd, 2013, an astonishing four hundred parts per million? You probably didn't, because things that prowl usually have feet - but anyway, back to the elephants...
It's almost too easy to mock Thomas Friedman, but he's out there influencing people with his make-no-sense words so he definitely deserves all the mockery that can be bestowed upon him.
And there are graphs!!! I'm dying!