Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise has been watching the climate world since 2009. What she sees isn't pretty.

More on Stephen Emmott, Author of ‘Ten Billion’

A new book appears to be a rehash of 40-year-old environmental scaremongering endorsed by that era’s men of science.

Yesterday I wrote about Oxford University professor Stephen Emmott who’s following in the footsteps of the eminent professors who endorsed the 1972 book, A Blueprint for Survival.

Forty-one years ago, profs from Oxford, the London School of Economics, the universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Hull, Leeds, London, Reading and several other prestigious institutions, all lined up behind a document that said our consumer/industrial way of life was unsustainable – and that our very survival was imperiled if we didn’t radically alter our lifestyles.

The names of those profs have since faded into the mist, but you can see them here. Please note that one of them, Sir Peter Medawar, was a Nobel Prize winner.

As I’ve observed previously:

It now appears that those distinguished men of science were clueless about the future. Which is lesson one.

Lesson two is that, much like some of today’s men of science, they were apparently poorly socialized and utterly tone-deaf.

Judging from an excerpt recently published in the Guardian, Professor Emmott’s upcoming book will tread the same ground that the Blueprint did four decades ago. A comparison of these two documents would no doubt produce a fascinating Masters thesis.

In any case, blogger Hilary Ostrov has reminded me that Emmott’s arguments received some much-needed scrutiny after he delivered a one-man show at London’s Royal Court Theatre last year. (It turns out the “drama queen” label is literally true in his case.)

It’s a F*ct – We’re F*cked does a great job of challenging many of Emmott’s so called “facts.” It also calls attention to the media midwifery that routinely accompanies environmental scaremongering. Journalists praised Emmott’s doom-and-gloom:

The reviews were full of superlatives. The Times’ critic calls it “utterly gripping, terrifyingly lucid”; Time Out: “monumentally sobering”; Billington in the Guardian: “one of the most disturbing evenings I have ever spent in a theatre”; the Financial Times: “one of the most disturbing shows I have seen on a stage”; the Mail on Sunday “certainly the most scary show in London”. Almost all of them cite Emmott’s conclusion: “We’re f*cked”.

Back in the early 1970s, the paperback version of the Blueprint showcased similar media praise. In fact, that praise was presented more prominently than the book’s title. According to the Sunday Times, the Blueprint was “Nightmarishly convincing…after reading it nothing seems quite the same any more.”

Obvious conclusion: don’t kid yourself – jaded, cynical, skeptical, hard-nosed reporters are on the brink of extinction. The average journalist is now a lapdog rather than a watchdog.

As I mentioned yesterday, Emmott tries to make us feel guilty about everything – including our consumption of chocolate. In this regard, Geoff Chambers and Alex Cull write:

By converting some of their rainforest into cocoa plantations, countries like Ghana can transform natural resources such as their ample rainfall into valuable cash crops and become wealthier. One day the[y] may even become wealthy enough to hold dinner parties where they can worry whether the stuff they import from Europe has been ethically and sustainably produced.

On a lighter note, Bernd Felsche declares over at his blog:

Emmott has given a clue as to how you can ameliorate some of the alleged effect of rising sea levels: Eat more chocolate…All the water that’s used according to Mr Emmott to make chocolate, obviously won’t make it into the oceans so, there being less water in the oceans, the sea levels must be lower.

Never has saving the planet been more rewarding… [bold in original]

Now there’s a man who knows how to make a girl smile :-)

A few days ago, Geoff Chambers also penned an update titled Ten Billion Reasons Why Stephen Emmott should get out a bit more.

As he mentions there, while the efforts of bloggers often feel thankless, we’re successfully putting a different perspective on the record – one that is instantly accessible to those who use Internet search engines.

In other words, there are good reasons to feel optimistic. Moreover, it has always been within our power to choose whether to permit people like Professor Emmott to poison our lives with dread and worry.

Personally, I choose to be happy. I intend to bask in the sunshine, to savour the roses, and to give thanks every morning that the universe has blessed me with another day of existence.

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