Mark Zuckerberg, Rhetoric, and the “Huge Healthy Glacier”

Rhetoric always matters.

Just days after scientists (science is real!) announced that a trillion ton glacier broke off of Antarctica, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg made this calculated post:

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On Sunday, July 16, 2017, Mark Zuckerberg posted a picture of him and his wife wearing jackets and standing on top of snow and ice. His caption reads: “One of my favorite shots on top of a huge healthy glacier in Alaska with a pregnant Priscilla a couple weeks back.”


From a perspective of intertextuality, it’s only real purpose can be to falsely reassure people that there is nothing to be alarmed about and to falsely perpetuate notions that “global warming” (or is it “climate change”?) is only a political issue of the Left, similar to philosophies of environmentalism promoted by those especially concerned with nature, as discussed here

Zuckerberg’s words huge healthy glacier are also important.

What exactly is huge? Humans lack the comprehensive or skill to understand something that has a weight in the billions, let alone the trillions. Everyday people, including Zuckerberg, also do not have the knowledge or qualifications to determine if a glacier is “huge” or not. Of course, they are huge compared to the material objects in everyday life, but not necessarily in terms of big scale history and big scale science. For the typical person who either denies science or is skeptical, “huge” will only provide additional fuel to their misguided rants, rants that could ultimately spell the end of life if all of the “huge” glaciers melt and if green energy is not adopted.

If there are “huge healthy glaciers,” then surely global warming is not a threat, people will say.

The same reasoning applies to Zuckerberg’s use of “healthy.” He is completely unqualified to make such an assessment or comment. Experts matter. I also find it problematic to anthropomorphize glaciers. A trillion-plus tons of frozen ice is not “healthy” or “unhealthy” in the way that Zuckerberg and other Homo sapiens are “healthy” or “unhealthy.” 

Life on Earth will go on. The question is simply whether or not it will include humans.

Celebrities like Zuckerberg must always think responsibly. Posing next to a “huge healthy glacier” in the summer and sharing this is irresponsible on every account and will only perpetuate scientific illiteracy. People frequently lack the ability to understand exceptions or to understand what they cannot see: The existence of a “huge healthy glacier” (if it actually is huge and healthy) does not negiate the overal crisis that we are facing.  

Dr. Andrew Joseph Pegoda