Emmott’s Ten Billion: the film of the book of the play of the computer model of the end of the world

Suhrkamp/Insel, Germany’s largest paperback publishers, are bringing out Stephen Emmott’s “Zehn Milliarden” on September 9th at about 15 euros.


Here’s an extract from the blurb (my translation):

“For the production of a burger It takes 3000 litres of water to make a hamburger. We produce more soot every year than was produced in the entire Middle Ages. This year we will fly six trillion kilometres. Our grandchildren will have to share the planet with ten billion people. Do we have a future?

With “Ten Billion”, Stephen Emmott, head of Microsoft Research Laboratory and professor at Oxford, has created something unique: for the first time an expert draws a coherent, comprenensible picture of our current situation. There’s no theoretical framework, no moralistic  finger-pointing, just the facts. And the clear message: ‘We won’t make it’. 

Stephen Emmott draws on the latest, in part unpublished, research, and shows that the ground has long been disappearing from under our feet. His book is dramatic, but what we have done to the earth is more drastic still. Ten billion is our last wake-up call.  We cannot ignore it.”

Also coming out in September, in Dutch for 9.99 euros:

“TIEN MILJARD : DE AARDE IS BIJNA VOL” (“The earth is nearly full”).

“Aan het eind van deze eeuw zullen minstens 10 miljard mensen de aarde bevolken, verwacht Stephen Emmott. En dat gaat niet goed aflopen, dat kan de aarde niet aan. Hoe kon dit gebeuren? Kunnen we er nog iets aan doen? Wanneer Emmott aan een collega vraagt hoe hij zich het best kan voor? bereiden op deze toekomst, is het cynische antwoord: `Leer je kinderen een wapen gebruiken”.

(My approximate translation with the aid of Google):

“By the end of this century at least 10 billion people will inhabit the earth, according to Stephen Emmott. This can’t end well for the earth. How could this come about? Can we still do something about it? When Emmott asked a colleague how best to prepare prepare for this future, the cynical answer came: ‘Teach your children to use a weapon’.”

And from the Singapore newspaper Straits Times


Boon Chan reports on British director Peter Webber’s (“Hannibal Rising”,  “Girl With A Pearl Earring”) latest film “Emperor”, and adds:

“Next up for him is a documentary film, ‘Ten Billion’, based on scientist Stephen Emmott’s work on the consequences of over-population. It certainly makes for quite a change from a drama set in post-World War II Japan.”

There’s a short publicity animation produced for Doubleday /Knopf  at


which contains two outrageous lies in just 90 seconds:

“The population has exploded, and there’s no slowdown in sight.”

“The sheer amount of energy for all this [producing stuff] is crippling our planet.”

[Added 29 May]

There’s a short publicity interview with Emmott at


Annoyingly, the German translator talks over Emmott, making it difficult to understand either speaker. Emmott gets in his “we’re fucked” line at the end though.

There’s also an Italian translation which will be published by Feltrinelli in September. The blurb at



“In 1800 there were one billion people on Earth, in 1950 three billion and today we are seven billion – and already global warming, food production, scarcity of water and of energy resources are bringingus to the point of global collapse. We all know that the problems of resource depletion, pollution of the environment and our lifestyle is threatening the equilibrium of the planet But if the situation is difficult now, what will be like when there are ten billionof us? The answer given by Stephen Emmott, professor of computational science at Oxford and head of the Department of Computational Science at Microsoft, is that the situation will be inevitably catastrophic, unless we change immediately  our economic and social model. Telling as many people as possible all we know about the dangers of the present and the terrible realities that await us in the future is perhaps the only way to avert disaster.

“Emmott first assembled and presented his data in the form of a play, and has now written a book, complete with graphs, images and photographs, to convey his message of alarm”.

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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16 Responses to Emmott’s Ten Billion: the film of the book of the play of the computer model of the end of the world

  1. Dodgy Geezer says:

    I seem to remember reading this book in the 1970s. Only it was by Paul Ehrlich then. Still completely wrong, though…

  2. alexjc38 says:

    Been trying to come up with a tagline for “Ten Billion” the movie:

    “Wake up and smell the coffee – but for heaven’s sake don’t make a cup, because did you know you’d be wasting 100 litres of precious water in the process?”

    Not very catchy but I think it sums up the spirit?

  3. Dodgy Geezer says:

    With all this worry about wasting water, I’m sure that we’ll reach Peak Water sometime, and run out. Is there a Green site somewhere that can tell us when that will be?

  4. alexjc38 says:

    @ Dodgy Geezer – according to Stephen Leahy in the Guardian, Peak Water has already been and gone! We’re over the peak and probably heading doomward in our handcart… 🙂


  5. Yesterday I added a couple of things to the article – the translation of the blurb to the Italian edition (also due out in September) and a German Youtube publicity spot. The German editors Suhrkamp have added a couple of quotes from the book, which I’ve translated back into English:
    “I don’t think we’re going to be saved. Naturally, I hope I’m wrong. But all the current scientific evidence suggests that I’m right.”
    “Imagine, we discovered a giant asteroid hurtling towards the earth on a collision course. This is a simple problem that anyone can understand. All governments would take unprecedented measures. Everything and everyone would be mobilized to ensure the survival of the species. This is exactly the situation we find ourselves in today. Only there is no asteroid. The problem is us.”

    Anything more I find I’ll add here in comments. Help from readers woud be much appreciated.

  6. steveta_uk says:

    Exactly where do those 3000 litres of water used to make a hamburger go? I suppose that in the Emmott world, all rainfall gets soaked up by grass, and the water in the grass and the water drunk by a cow is somehow concentrated into the burger. Don’t cows pee in his world?

  7. Foxgoose says:

    I wonder if Microsoft let him strut his stuff at those frantically optimistic, motivational conferences that US corporates love.

    “Now lets hear it from Stephen – the guy with a brain the size of a planet, who heads up our blue skies future thinking team at that world famous University of Cambridge in little old England …….. what doe the future hold for us all Stephen………..?”

    ………… ” We’re fucked”

  8. Steveta
    Yes, that’s how he does it. There’s a couple of university types in Holland who spend their entire working life calculating how many litres of water it takes to do anything you can think of. It’s a Dutch thing – a modern version of the old story about the climate change minister with his finger in the dyke. As I said at
    “The high water content of hamburgers is explained by counting the rain falling on the grass or other crops consumed by the cow. It could be pointed out in defense of the Big Mac that even if you abolished livestock rearing and went back to hunter gathering, the same amount of rain would still fall on the same amount of grassland, and your voleburger would still have the same water footprint, though presumably without mustard and mayonnaise”.

    Indeed they do. He struts his stuff on Vimeo before a NESTA meeting which I looked at at
    and also in front of a Dutch university audience, which was so embarrassing I couldn’t watch it.
    Perhaps what Microsoft are hoping to get out of it is an App so devastating that it can save the world, provided every customer in the world downloads it at once and starts a cloud computing effort which will deflect the global warmoid hurtling towards us at the last minute – or something.

  9. SH says:

    In 1960 the global population was 3 billion, of which 1 billion were well-fed and 2 billion lived in poverty.

    In 2010 the global population was 7 billion, of which 6 billion were well-fed and 1 billion lived in poverty

    So six times as many people are now well-fed, while the number in poverty has halved (and by the way, 50% of food does not make it from source to stomach, so we need high-tech solutions like, er, lorries).


    These numbers have been rounded for rhetorical purposes! In my experience any given global warmist starts bleating about over-population after 2 glasses of white wine. I am trying to make the figures comprehensible in this context. It never works.

    I am enjoying your blog Geoff. You once compared me to Martin Luther in the Guardian comments. I demurred. We were doing battle with the mighty GPWayne and his horde of paragraph-choppers, but our little pinpricks bounced off his impenetrable hide.

  10. SH
    Thanks. Glad you like it.
    “Do you have a source for that Martin Luther remark?” as the warmists like to say. If not, I’ll try and find it. Guardian CiF has a useful tool whereby you can find all the comments by any commenter. Just click on the name of any commenter to bring up his profile, and insert the required name in the place of the name clicked on. It’s not working at the moment, but I keep meaning to explore it some day to retrieve my own commenting history.
    I used to enjoy our jousts with GPWayne, despite his once offering to bend me over a table and roger me – an odd remark, since we hardly know each other. I pleaded with the moderators to leave it up, but to no avail.

  11. SH says:

    Well, I just made a few bullet points and you suggested that they should be nailed to the Church door in Wittenburg! Did GP really say that? Mind you, Monbiot has declared war on sheep and Franny is stockpiling stuff for child euthanasia. So GP was being quite moderate in the circumstances.

  12. SH
    References, references! What’s this about Monbiot and sheep and Franny and euthanasia? I know George has written a new book about going back to a more primitive lifestyle, but not that far back! Has he been perturbed by the Pompeii exhibition at the British Museum? Has GPWayne?
    If you have the source of our interaction at GiF, I’d like to know, since my records don’t go that far back, due to a slipped hard disc.

  13. SH says:


    Monbiot and sheep: surely you have seen this;


    Franny and cyanide:


    From which: “Should we stockpile cyanide? You think I’m exaggerating, but a close friend of mine, who has four children, said she plans to kill herself and them when it comes to it.”

    I’m afraid you have all I have on our interaction, which is just what I can recall.

    Hope this helps,


  14. que sais je says:

    Stephen Emmott’s “Ten Billion” has been published on the (**Illuminati**-)famous May 1st 2013? I haven’t read or seen the book/play yet (and/but in my opinion it is too expensive and/or time consuming for me right now). Shame on me. I’m going to add a comment anyway.

    With regard to the topic of population Stephen could fit, together with his Big Brother and Big Data boss Bill Gates, into — what somebody dared to call — the (also depopulating?) “Good Club” which congregated in 2009 at the home of Paul Nurse, the President of the Royal Society (while Sir Paul was absent (cf. ultimately also http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2012/4/26/a-right-royal-fail.html)).

    This number, 10 billion, horrific to Stephen, reminds me vaguely to — as Shakespeare put it in “As You Like It” — “a great reckoning in a little room” (Was the killing of the “creator” of the mad scientist “Faust”, Christopher Marlowe, perhaps “staged” so that Marlowe could become Shakespeare?). — Let’s not forget the fun or, if you will, even black humor with the puzzle(s) of the “big picture(s)”. For example,

    “[…]if we allow the Chinese to continue expanding at the present rate every single person of this planet will eventually suffer… what is it called?… disappointment”

    (Cf. Sandi Toksvig’s drama screenplay for the UK TV, episode ” The Man” (2012), which deals quite frankly with the current meeting at London’s “Watford Grove”; not the Google Zeitgeist Conference (this year’s Zeitgeist Conference ended there last week), but the great agenda setting (depopulating?) “Bilderberg Conference” — along with other academic geniuses and possible “terrorists“, for example, to take a single example, one of the German “most possible brutal enlightener” (“brutalstmöglicher Aufklärer“), Roland Koch, who thinks apparently, according to the musician Nina Hagen, missiles with depleted Uranium are good things and no thread to your health.).

    Or, eventually, Stephen is a soulmate of the 2012-10-billion-apocalypticist Terence McKenna. Terence, a “Gaia Lover”, said between 1982 and 1989 to his interlocutors — the chaos mathematician and dynamic systems theorist Ralph Abraham together with the well known theoretical biologist Rupert Sheldrake — in “Trialogues at the Edge of the West: Chaos, Creativity, and Cosmic Consciousness” (originally published Santa Fe, 1992), Chapter Nine, titled “Apocalypse”:

    “By the year 2012 the world population will be approaching ten billion people. Propagated at the present rate of fade there will be no ozone layer. The impact of that single parameter is totally unknown. Then there are carbon dioxide emissions, acid rain, and nuclear proliferation and propaganda running rampant. Pharmacology, brainwashing, surgical reconstruction and high-tech undercover technologies of all sorts are making new leaps toward their own twisted perfection. Under these conditions of cultural compression forms of novelty will erupt that are totally unpredictable in the present context. Everything is knitting together. Our boundaries are dissolving into a kind of techno-biological-informational soup. The intentionality behind all this is in the hands of no one but the Gaian will.

    What is happening is like the metamorphosis that goes on inside a chrysalis. This planet is having its forests liquified, its oceans boiled, its populations moved, and its genes are streaming in all directions with exotic toxins mixed in. We’re in a time storm whose diameter is impossible to estimate. The barometric pressure is dropping faster than we’ve ever seen it drop. There’s an eerie stillness, and the light in the sky looks very strange but nothing definite has happened yet.”

    Oh, all these apocalypses and revelations! Some think the bible says in the end there will be even 144.000 people on top; rising from the dead? — like Zombies? Others think that Walter Disney’s “Star Wars” exposes real threats: “The Emperor Palpatine cheated” (cf. also for example wellaware1.com, respectively “DallasGoldBug/Ed Chiarini” who sounds in his videos a tad like the obscure Scott DeCarlo (“New Jersey Police Dept.”) in the video “Israeli Mossad Agents Arrested on 911 – 911 Was an Inside and Out Job“). Maybe Stephen Emmott’s role model is the depressed paranoid android character Marvin who is said to have a “brain the size of a planet” (see Douglas Adam’s “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”).

    Fortunately, Stephen seems to be good established — also in the “Mainstream Media” — but it seems also that some think that trying to solve the/their/his “issues” (e.g. “AGW”(c), “overpopulation”) would be much more easy if the Third Reich had prevailed stronger or more obvious. For instance, as already announced on May 1st 1936 Joseph Goebbels, the German Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany, wanted

    “to ensure that not one genius perishes, so that a critic is proved right”

    („dafür zu sorgen, daß nicht ein Genie zugrunde geht, damit ein Kritiker recht behält“; see Thomas Anz / Rainer Baasner (Hrsg.), “Literaturkritik – Geschichte, Theorie, Praxis.” Munich 2004.).

    On November 27th 1936 the demagogue Joseph laid with the „Kunstbetrachtererlaß” (~ “art appreciation enactment”) the German film criticism for the next ten years to rest, permanently, and declared:

    “When I reach such a drastic measure, then I proceed in this case on the assumption that only those may criticize who has a real understanding on the area in which he criticizes”

    („Wenn ich eine derartig einschneidende Maßnahme treffe, dann gehe ich dabei von dem Gesichtspunkt aus, daß nur der kritisieren darf, der auf dem Gebiet, auf dem er kritisiert, wirkliches Verständnis besitzt.“).

    Sounds familiar? For example peer review, anyone?

    Apropos, lately, “Obama’s” Science “Czar” John P. Holdren has been “Confronted on Population Control” again by the activist Luke Rudkowsky — it has been said that the latter resembles to Vladimir Putin 🙂

    I hope there are not many doppelgänger…

  15. Pingback: Where Are They Now? (1) Franny Armstrong | Geoffchambers's Blog

  16. Pingback: We keep moaning about population, but ignore consumption habits | Family Survival Protocol - Microcosm News

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