Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

Oxford University Spreads Fake News

SPOTLIGHT: The most reputable publishers imaginable are misinforming the public about basic geology.

BIG PICTURE: Last September, a book titled The Paris Agreement on Climate Change: Analysis and Commentary appeared. Five people are listed as editors, four of whom are lawyers. Two teach at universities. Another two are United Nations legal officers.

These people aren’t lightweights. You’d expect them to be in possession of elemental facts.

Nevertheless, not one of these editors objected to a blatant falsehood in the Foreword to this book. It’s hard to find a more distinguished publisher than Oxford University Press, but none of its editorial team caught it, either.

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The Foreword is written by Christiana Figueres, the former head of the UN’s climate treaty. In paragraph three she declares:

In fact, the human impact on the planet has been so profound that geologists recognize the end of the Holocene era and the beginning of the Anthropocene era.

This is nonsense. As I mentioned last week, the International Commission on Stratigraphy is responsible for delineating geological periods. There is an official, established process by which such matters get decided.

In recent years, activists external to that process have argued that a new geological epoch should be declared in recognition of the effect human beings are having on the planet. So far, that hasn’t happened. Lobbying is one thing. A definitive change-of-course is something else.

The Commission’s website contains a full-colour, official chart. The latest version of that chart is dated 2018/07 – this month. Its top left corner makes it clear we remain in the Holocene. The word ‘anthropocene’ does not appear.

There’s nothing complicated about this. Figueres doesn’t say that ‘some geologists argue’ the Holocene has ended. She falsely states that geologists per se “recognize” its termination.

TOP TAKEAWAY: When high-ranking UN climate personnel, esteemed publishing houses, and coteries of lawyers play fast and loose with the truth, the public stops trusting these elite voices.


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