The Economist adds earth-moving

History of CO2 and temperature

First sins of emission, now earth-moving

Here’s an amazing story from the Economist of 26 May. Why is it amazing? Three reasons. It casually and thoughtlessly swallows the IPCC global warming myth. Then it becomes an unquestioning advocate for that fatally tarnished, scientifically indefensible, “moral” crusade. Finally, for an extra spiciness I have never seen, it conflates our invisible sins of emission with the newborn sin of (may God protect us) earth-moving, to present a hideous picture of our terrestrial depravity.

Earth-moving? Yes, that’s right. Terrible, isn’t it? Of all the wicked things we do!

Entitled Welcome to the Anthropocene, the story imagines that a new geological era has begun, inspired by man’s modern ability to “reshape” the planet. Read how the author skilfully introduces earth-moving into the (alleged) climatic influences of our emissions to give the impression (without saying how) that we really do alter the planet, at the planetary level. Really. It’s awful.

This article worries me more than predictions of planetary doom, more than would any real-world observations of unprecedented climatic fluctuation (if I ever saw any). For this seemingly credible discussion anticipates, indeed, tries to ensure our future extinction, since it stipulates that we assign to the environment a more exalted relevance than we assign to ourselves.

Man, where has thy reason fled?

What strange times! How cheerfully and completely Man deprecates his own species!

Two related extracts caught my attention:

“Who is to say that human action might not tip the planet into new instability?”


“one of the messages of the Anthropocene is that piecemeal actions can quickly add up to planetary change.”

The first rhetorical question plays blatantly on our fears — it gives no evidence and even manages to hint that climatic instability existed in the past, ignoring the obvious fact that all present life survived all previous climatic variation. The second statement treats the first as evidence, yet it is nothing of the kind — it’s as much evidence of our control of the planet as a horoscope reading is evidence of the future.

Footprints in the sand

There is strong pressure to believe that, taken together, all of humanity’s activities influence — even “reshape” — the globe itself. This looks like the Economist’s contribution to that pressure. But is anybody really thinking?

Lapping up the warmist dogma, the Economist appears to believe that mere footprints in the sand are tantamount to “reshaping the planet.” The story begins thus:

The Earth is a big thing; if you divided it up evenly among its 7 billion inhabitants, they would get almost 1 trillion tonnes each. To think that the workings of so vast an entity could be lastingly changed by a species that has been scampering across its surface for less than 1% of 1% of its history seems, on the face of it, absurd. But it is not. Humans have become a force of nature reshaping the planet on a geological scale—but at a far-faster-than-geological speed.

It then forgets what it just said and trumpets the amazing fact that a single engineering project plans to move 30 billion tonnes of earth, inviting us to imagine that’s the same as “reshaping the planet.” But examine that quantity, and you find that it’s a mere 3 hundredths of what was just breathlessly announced would be each person’s ‘share’ of the earth — hardly reshaping, more like a smudging.

The author asserts that we’re reducing river sediments, but forgets the reasons: the millions of people for whom we’re providing drinking water and electric power. Would the writer sacrifice his own water and electricity to restore the sediments? Why would he?

Distance oneself from reality

Reducing sediment flows by 20% can hardly be described as “reshaping the planet.” The author claims that the world’s river deltas are “eroding away faster than they can be replenished,” which is simply not true of all deltas. Anyway, surely people can cope with the deltas growing a little more slowly?

This account is scary in the same way that flying pigs are scary. That is, to feel the fear, one must first distance oneself from reality.

The slug line includes the statement: “Humans have changed the way the world works.” But we don’t get to hear what this means, we’re left to use our imagination.

One “global” effect humanity is accused of is one which nobody has been able to confirm. Our influence on the local climate through land use change is often apparent, and it seems therefore obvious there must be an effect globally. But after many years of looking, nobody has measured it.

So for the Economist to announce this “so vast an entity” has been “lastingly changed” is nothing but empty rhetoric. Sure, the Great Wall of China is visible from space, but it’s the only work of man which is, and it’s like spotting sheep trails across a hillside: evidence of presence. It’s not evidence of planetary reshaping. Even the Great Wall goes over the hills without ever disturbing (reshaping) them.

We don’t control natural forces

As for our modern earth-moving, our giant machines perform prodigious feats, and we can be justly proud of our achievements with them, but they are as a child scratching in the sand compared with the natural forces at work in the Earth.

The people of Christchurch and Japan would be pleased indeed for us to control natural forces, but the deaths and widespread destruction they suffered are testament to the fact that we don’t control them. This story cannot make us believe that we do.

Bacteria that eat crude oil

The largest oil spill of recent years, caused by the devastating blowout of the oil well deep under the Gulf of Mexico, the effects of which are proving difficult to mop up and which still linger in places, was yet over in a few short weeks and caused nowhere near the devastation that was predicted.

The reason? Oil spills are not a modern phenomenon, they have been happening for millions of years, and in the Gulf of Mexico the environment has evolved to deal with them. Bacteria which actually consume crude oil mopped it up in record time. No long-term damage has been reported, notwithstanding the disaster-laden pronouncements at the time from environmentalists.

Why is it that our news media fail to inform us of these failed environmental prophecies of disaster?

Planetary reshaping is a stupid pretext dreamed up by overactive environmentalists unsupported by evidence or reason, fabricated to justify depriving us of what little control we still exert over our own actions. The concept of planetary reshaping is quite empty and simply grants our bureaucrats another persecuting power.

A pox on their governance

The climatic transformations claimed to result from reducing our emissions are illusory. They will not occur. There is no evidence that the transformations are needed or even possible.

But an army of governors, most of them unelected, are now in the process of re-designing our education system, our scientific bodies, industry, farming and transportation, along with international trade and the economy itself to direct our activities in a righteous way. A way that pays homage first to the great green god of materialism, to deny the citizenry the good and innocent things they want, yet grants the governors all the goods and services they desire, and above all the satisfaction they crave from governing.

A pox on their governance. Let us find the honest men.

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19 Thoughts on “The Economist adds earth-moving

  1. Andy on 28/05/2011 at 11:15 pm said:

    This “Anthropocene” concept seems to be something that has come out of the “Stockholm Memorandum” and the rather creepy sounding group of Nobel Prize winners who are proposing all sorts of crazy stuff like, primarily, stopping CO2 emissions increasing within 4 years, I kid you not.

    Shub’s blog post, which I linked to elsewhere, has the details.

  2. Richard C (NZ) on 29/05/2011 at 4:39 pm said:

    An earth-moving tax should fix the problem. Better still, an earth-moving trading scheme (EMTS).

    The price should be set at at least $25 per tonne to have any beneficial effect (economists say it should be 10 times that amount).

    Earth-moving is real, it’s happening. This is mans last chance to save the planet.

  3. Mike Jowsey on 29/05/2011 at 7:00 pm said:

    A pox I say!

    And now for something completely different….. yet strangely linked…. maybe, if the trend of ecomania continues this will be our future.

    Comment number 41, the one above this link (sorry, couldn’t figure out the comment number logic…):

  4. Mike Jowsey on 29/05/2011 at 7:23 pm said:

    BTW Richard T, this is one of your better works. I would rate it up there with this one:

    See how a few days ‘on retreat’ can be a shot in the arm? Good stuff! Keep ’em coming.

  5. Clarence on 30/05/2011 at 4:15 pm said:

    Wow! Did you pick up some meds during your hospital visit?

  6. Stanley on 30/05/2011 at 4:26 pm said:

    Sad, isn’t it.

    I’ve been faithfully reading The Economist week-in week-out for over 20 years. I used to wait ’til it turned up to find out what I thought of all the news of the week.

    It was hard-headed, hard-hitting and always demanded to see the evidence. Matt Ridley was (and is) the world’s best science reporter.

    Then, about 5 years ago, it began to go all squishy on any issue which involved the ever-widening interests of Green activists. A new science editor arrived. The Club of Rome was in!

    Perhaps it’s no coincidence that a part-owner, David Rothschild, writes earnest books about global warming and resource limitations.

    • Malcolm Chapman on 06/06/2011 at 1:17 am said:


      Like you, I’ve been a reader of the Economist for decades. Like you, I used to think highly of it. And yes, about five years ago an Economist appeared with a cover which said ‘The Heat Is On’, with a picture of desert and cacti. And that was the Economist going belly up on one of the most important issues of our time. It is now truly feeble. I was interested in what you had to say about the owner — I didn’t know that. And Matt Ridley was obviously a great loss. Do we know the names of the children who now pretend to be environmental journalists at the Economist? The Economist, like the BBC, is totally hermetic when you try to look inside and comment on the stories and opinions expressed. Letters don’t seem to make any difference, which is why blogs like this are such an asset.

    • Malcolm Chapman on 06/06/2011 at 4:15 am said:


      There is also a ray of hope in the very same edition of the Economist (May 28th 2011). In the special report on Australia (p.13), paragraph four begins ‘And then there is the climate. No one knows whether it is really changing or, if so, whether man is playing a part. Australia has more than its share of climate-change sceptics, and they can point to the many droughts, cyclones and floods that have afflicted the country for centuries’.

      I assume that this was written by somebody paid to write about the real Australia, who doesn’t fully grasp the Economist’s party line on AGW. Anyway, a bit of encouragement beside the rest of the anthropocene nonsense.

  7. Ah, I see. It’s a bit of both.

    Thanks for the encouragement, my friend. Coming from you, it really means something.

  8. Andy on 31/05/2011 at 10:46 am said:

    Richard, you write,

    The people of Christchurch and Japan would be pleased indeed for us to control natural forces, but the deaths and widespread destruction they suffered are testament to the fact that we don’t control them

    Indeed this is the case. We are informed today that Christchurch has a 23% chance of a major earthquake in the next year. This is, of course, based on a computer model, so the jaded and cynical might not think much of these warnings.

    We are told, however, that this information was released inadvertently via city councilor Sue Well’s blog. How jolly fine of them to share this information with us mere taxpayers

    So here we have a nearly 1/4 chance of an event in my city, that could cause widespread loss of life and property. This information was released “by accident”, and yet we are fed this daily propaganda about homeopathic quantities of a trace gas that will disrupt our climatic system.

    A pox on them all, indeed.

  9. Remember these same GNS people told you in mid Sept last year that it was “textbook” and “fading”.

  10. Bulaman on 02/06/2011 at 9:32 am said:

    OT Check out the Reuters news on Monday by Pete Harrison. Eurocrats are scared that traded carbon could fall to zero if industry efficiency improves.. ooops!

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