Emmott won’t go way

Stephen Emmott’s Ten Billion is being published on May 1st  2013 as a Penguin paperback. Katie Mitchell is not listed as a co-author, so this is clearly not the Royal  Court play.

This is from the publicity at Amazon: 

Ten Billion is Stephen Emmott’s shocking message showing why time is running out for humanity unless we radically change our behaviour – now

We’re facing an emergency.

By the end of this century the population will be over 10 billion. And there aren’t enough resources for everyone.

This book won’t tell you to ‘do your bit for the environment’.

It won’t tell you to recycle.

It won’t tell you to buy an electric car.

It’s too late for that.

Stephen Emmott, the acclaimed scientist, shows us why time is running out. And what we really need to do about it.

What Alex Cull and I are doing about it is combing the internet looking for references, reviews, etc. in order to improve and update the critical analysis we started at 


 Simply googling “Stephen Emmott Ten Billion” produces a wealth of material. If anyone has anything we may have overlooked, we’d be very grateful. (Quotes from paywalled reviews at the Times and Sunday Times would be handy, especially if they contain direct quotes from the text. Quoting individual passages is considered fair use).

On the subject of copyright, Tim Worstall was asking for help in finding the script of the Royal Court show last August at:


Vinny Burgoo, in a comment, said this:

I rang the box office. There wasn’t a playscript and they have no current plans to print one. They couldn’t work out how to do one because it was a presentation rather than a play. They also thought there might be copyright issues as the presentation included ‘Emmott’s research’. 

Think about that. 

Emmott is telling us that we must change our ways, because his research says so. These changes clearly involve severe limitations on democratic freedoms. But discussion will have to be limited because of “copyright issues”.

Whose copyright? Emmott’s? Cambridge University’s? Microsoft’s? 

About Geoff Chambers

Retired illustrator (children's magazines, religious education textbooks, an Encyclopaedia of Christianity, gay contact and female fitness magazines, pornographic strip cartoons etc.) Retired lecturer in English and History of Art in a French University; ardent blogger on climate hysteria, banned five times from the Guardian and twice from the Conversation. Now blogging at Cliscep.com
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9 Responses to Emmott won’t go way

  1. Tim Worstall says:

    I’m absolutely convinced that he’s got his minerals numbers entirely wrong. I’ll be trying to get a review copy myself as the date draws near….

  2. As a concept it has only been expounded every few years since Tertullian in the early 3rd century. He could be right, but the others weren’t.

  3. Tim
    I doubt whether he got very far into the minerals numbers, since it was very much geared to frightening the chattering classes, and tonnes of molybdenum don’t really figure high on their worry list. We’ve been through about sixty reviews and interviews so far, and there’s very little about resource depletion. Where a factoid is well accepted, (“we’re running out of stuff”) he tends to leave it alone, I think. Wherever there’s a range of estimates, he takes the high one. So “2-6°C” becomes 6°C. “A hundred to a thousnd times the normal species loss” becomes X1000, etc.

  4. catweazle666 says:

    Ah, ‘WORSE THAN WE THOUGHT’, no doubt.

    Life’s too short….

  5. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Geoff, from what I recall the chap at the box office added the copyright worry as an afterthought. The main reason they hadn’t done a playscript was that most of the info in _Ten Billion_ was communicated visually and they didn’t know how to put that in a script. Also, Emmott’s verbals varied from night to night.

    So it’s not sinister that the Royal Court didn’t publish one. Emmott’s book is the right way around the problem – and will present a juicier target for nitpickers than a hurriedly produced playscript. Personally, this nitpicker can’t wait.

  6. Vinny Burgoo: “This nitpicker can’t wait”. Good. I hope to make of this site a veritable nest of nits.
    I’m still bothered by the copyright question though, and would appreciate some advice.
    I believe the concept of “fair use” allows for quoting up to 15% of a book in a critique. Dictionary makers are allowed to snitch up to 50% of their material from other sources, and so on. But a good fisking might well entail a line-by-line commentary, quoting all the key facts.
    Now these facts aren’t Emmott’s; he doesn’t research the water content of chocolate bars himself. So I wonder where the limit lies in quoting what will probably turn out to be a compilation of peer-reviewed urban myths?
    Also, there’s something odd about saying: “The world’s going to end. Here’s why. And if you quote more than 15% of that I say, I’ll sue.” I bet St. John the Divine didn’t try that one on.

  7. Mooloo says:

    I think you merely say what facts he gives, with a citation to his book to allow others to check, and don’t quote very much verbatim. That will keep you well under any legal limit. It’s not a literature review, so you don’t need to quote the actual words very much at all. Stick to a factual argument in each case: say what he says fairly and evenly, and then present the opposing evidence.

    Also each individual blog post will use trivial amounts of his material, and it would be heavy going to present a series of posts, interspersed with all sorts of other material, as a combined work. Otherwise literature scholars might only be able to write one work!

    That said, if you are really annoying him he can sue if you use 1%. He might not win if it makes it to a judge, but can you afford to fight him? Or will your ISP run scared and pull the plug on you regardless. I think you need a back-up plan.

    Of course if he sues, then he runs the risk of public exposure and humiliation. There’s been a few people who have won the battles of public opinion even while losing a court case.

    BTW I’m keen to help. I spent a happy afternoon once chasing down some Green’s bullshit about how most of the world don’t have a refrigerator, and I’m happy to do the same for you whenever these idiots cite bullshit “facts”.

  8. You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the best sites on the web.
    I most certainly will highly recommend this website!

  9. Jason Lee says:

    Thanks to my father who told me on the topic of this webpage, this blog is truly remarkable.

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