Emmott’s Swastika-shaped Graphs: from Risible to Despicable

“13 Graphs That Suggest The Planet Might Be Totally Screwed” have recently turned up at http://www.buzzfeed.com/ and seven other news sites in the past hour or so. They all come from Emmott’s new book. Six of them are hockeystick shaped.

They’re clearly publicity material put out by Penguin, since they’re all framed in orange, which frames the Penguin logo at the end, as well as the sole text (except the definitions of the graph axes) which reads:

‘Teach my son how to use  gun.’


This is clearly sexist, and an incitement to commit a crime, (unless your son is over 18, in which case he can enrol in a gun club without daddy to hold his hand, can’t he?)

The contents of the book make it clear that the population growth which is its main subject will happen mostly in Africa, and that one of the fears engendered by Emmott’s musings is of millions of immigrants arriving. The message is covertly (though obviously) racist.

There’s a lot else wrong with the graphs and the interpretation placed on them by Penguin’s marketing department. For the moment, let’s just concentrate on the fact that Penguin and Emmott, whether they know it of not, are delivering a covertly fascist message based on the fear engendered by a load of dubious graphs which say – what? – That coal consumption and water use are going up in a straight line; that there are a billion motor vehicles in the world; that species loss, flat until 2040, is expected to go up thereafter – and so on.

Therefore your son needs to learn to shoot.

To shoot what, or whom, Professor Emmott?

As soon as this ad appears in print, please let me know (I don’t get print editions of UK publications here) and please get on to the Advertising Standards Authority.


Half an hour later there are fifteen, not eight, sites carrying this publicity (one in Turkish).

There’s a bit of text at the beginning which Buzzfeed seem to have cut:

“We urgently need to do – and I mean actually do – something radical to avert a global catastrophe. But I don’t think we will. I think we’re fucked.”

About Geoff Chambers

Retired illustrator (children's magazines, religious education textbooks, an Encyclopaedia of Christianity, gay contact and female fitness magazines, pornographic strip cartoons etc.) Retired lecturer in English and History of Art in a French University; ardent blogger on climate hysteria, banned five times from the Guardian and twice from the Conversation. Now blogging at Cliscep.com
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6 Responses to Emmott’s Swastika-shaped Graphs: from Risible to Despicable

  1. steveta_uk says:

    Further proof that Stephen Emmott is a fantacist – he doesn’t have any children.

  2. Steveta
    I noted that, but resisted the temptation to comment, as I hope I’ve avoided speculating on his psychology. Is he any more of a fantasist than all the people who respond so positively to his message?
    It’s not Emmott that’s the problem, but the effect he aims to have (and is having) on the rest of us. From the day he bored Katie Mitchell silly on a six hour train journey rabbiting on about the cost to the planet of the fucking lettuce (her expression) she was eating, to the day the Penguin publicity department thought it would be a good idea to link a graph of fish stocks to a call to arm your children, we have evidence, not so much or the psychological state of one individual, but of something far more serious: the state of a large part – the politically and intellectually active part – of our society.

  3. Paul Matthews says:

    Geoff, clearly Emmott reads your blog, because the ‘Teach my son how to use a gun’ has now gone from that Buzzfeed site. But it’s still there on all the all the copycat websites.

    I think it must be in the book as well, since there is a superb one star review on Amazon, worth quoting in full:

    “10 billion reasons not to buy this book

    Having read the Guardian article I thought I would give the book a go. It appealed to me as taking on a topic such as the problems faced with a rapidly expanding population seemed a wothwhile cause. What I got was something not that much longer than the article for which I had to pay nothing. The book told me nothing new. There was some pretty pictures and graphs. The old rhetoric on climate change (of which I am neither ardent believer or denier) and some dubious figures about how much water you need to make a burger or a chocolate bar. The advice given by the author in relation to what to do about the impending disaster – teach your children how to use a gun. Please do not buy this book.”

  4. Paul
    Thanks for that interesting news. I hope people with relevant academic qualifications and statistical knowledge will look at the graphs, and my brief analysis in the article that follows this one, and express their views in some forum which reachs a bigger audience than this blog.
    In a sane world, the book (if it includes the graphs as reproduced on the net) should be pulped, the science editor at Penguin should be sacked, and Microsoft should tell Emmott to go back to modelling the human brain, or something else less challenging than fish stocks and coal consumption.
    I’m angry. What little post-A-level science I know came from reading Penguin books (Pelican, actually) which gave you a cheap but reliable introduction to cosmology or evolution or whatever. Just as what I learned about contemporary politics in my youth came very largely from reading the Guardian. And everything else came from the public library.
    I don’t see how Emmott reading my blog could make the gun-toting phrase disappear from Buzzfeed. I think I’ll take a look at the Penguin site.

  5. steveta_uk says:

    I hope that the “Teach my son how to use gun” line gets used extensively by the publicists, as there is very little that could put Guardian readers off more than the idea that this is written by someone who sounds like a typical gun-totting American neo-con.

  6. Pingback: 10 Billion | Science Book a Day

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