Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

This blog is written by Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Posts appear Monday & Wednesday.

More Oxford University Fake News

SPOTLIGHT: Institutions that claim to be purveyors of truth shouldn’t tell lies.

BIG PICTURE: Last week I reported on a book, published by Oxford University Press, that announces the end of the Holocene. This is fake news because the international body tasked with identifying geological periods has made no such determination.

Certain individuals – many of whom are not even geologists – think a new era, called the Anthropocene, should be declared which acknowledges the effect humanity is having on planet Earth. But their views are irrelevant. Until the officials who count change their minds, declaring that this has already occurred is dishonest.

Why is Oxford University engaging in such dishonesty? Exhibit #2 is part of the website of the National Trust, a UK charity. Titled What is the Anthropocene? we’re informed that this is no ordinary page on the Internet. Rather, it has been designated “A Trusted Source article created as part of the University of Oxford Knowledge Transfer Partnership.”

The message to the public is that this content has been vetted by Oxford itself and is therefore super reliable. These are facts one can take to the bank. Except they’re not.

The word ‘anthropocene’ appears 12 times on this web page. In every instance it is capitalized – as if it were already an official designation rather than merely a position advocated by some people. The summary at the top says this new epoch “stands alongside other geological epochs, such as the Holocene.”

click to enlarge

The public is never advised that, officially, we are still in the Holocene. Instead, after declaring that fossil fuels are linked to “rising sea-levels, extreme weather events and desertification,” the page outlandishly states:

The concept of the Anthropocene has been strongly criticised by some scholars for appearing to suggest that humanity as a whole is responsible for the environmental damage caused. In fact, it is a highly unequal process, with western societies accounting for the vast majority of energy use.

Misrepresentation. Red herrings. Straw men. Is that what Oxford produces these days? Those opposed to the “concept of the Anthropocene” actually have sensible arguments.

They think it’s a form of hubris to overstate humanity’s importance on a dynamic, ever-evolving planet that was doing its own thing billions of years before humans even appeared.

They point out that geological eras typically last millions of years, yet anthropocene activists want to terminate the Holocene after only twelve thousand years.

They look at this debate and they see political pressure and narcissism, not science.

TOP TAKEAWAY: When did Oxford University lose the ability to differentiate simple truths from activist fiction?

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This entry was posted on July 16, 2018 by in ethical & philosophical, NGOs and tagged .
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