To register, click "create an account" at bottom. If already registered, just login below.

Thanks for registering!

Driving in fog toward a cliff, with bad brakes... Featured

"We're driving in a car with bad brakes in a fog and heaing for a cliff. We know for sure now that the cliff is out there, we just don't know exactly where it is. Prudence would suggest that we should start putting on the brakes."— John Holdren.

Notes:    Also see this variation by Scott Mandia and this one.

Bite source:   Woods Hole oceanographer and White House Science Advisor John Holdren, quoted in Thomas Friedman's Hot, Flat & Crowded(First Edition), New York:  2008, p. 126

Image source:

3 votes

Bite Details

Submitted by
Tom Smerling
Com (2)

November 19, 2011

I do think about this analogy a lot, since I heard it a few years ago. However, I like to think though that we are headed toward a brick or concrete wall in the fog. After all, as Tom Smerling, pointed out to me: if you drive off a cliff, after the first 10 feet it does not really matter how much further you fall.

I like to say that we are driving in a fog on a slick road towards a brick wall. We are going to face some changes with climate change. We have pumped way too much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere since the beginning of the industrial revolution. The prudent thing to do is to slow down the car enough to hit the wall at 10 mph, instead of 70 mph.

By the way, one time my car was in neutral inside a garage in park service housing. Some maintenance guys came to work on the house. When they opened up the garage, my car rolled out and crossed the street to hit a snow back. Since it was a flat surface and my car was probably traveling at 1 to 5 mph very hour and the snowbank was soft. The car was totally fine. I got lucky. If we all continue business as usual with climate change, none of us will probably be as lucky.

Thanks for posting this.

Brian Ettling

November 30, 2011

Great and rememberable metaphor

Please comment on this bite»