Crank of the Week - February 23, 2009 - Gaia Vince

“Alligators basking off the English coast; a vast Brazilian desert; the mythical lost cities of Saigon, New Orleans, Venice and Mumbai; and 90 per cent of humanity vanished. Welcome to the world warmed by 4 °C.” Thus begins this week's featured article from New Scientist, the left-of-center British science news weekly. At first we thought that the author's name, Gaia Vince, was a nom de plume, but it appears that there is an actual person with that name running around the world.

Gaia, who advertises herself as a journalist specializing in science, the environment and social issues, came to our attention when her article, “How to survive the coming century,” was named editor's choice in the February 25, 2009, issue of New Scientist. For those unfamiliar with New Scientist, it is a popular science magazine (as opposed to a refereed scientific journal) that has been hysterically vocal about the threat of global warming for several decades.

Gaia says that currently she is “travelling the world meeting the people, plants and animals that make up our unique living planet.” That comes from Wandering Gaia, the author's blog site, where a seemingly infinite supply of eco-doom drivel is available. Here is an excerpt from Gaia's blog:

Just suppose, if you will, that the world does not stop emitting carbon in the next 10 years. That, in fact, global emissions continue to rise - the reductions made by rich countries more than written off by increases from China, India and their neighbours. Imagine then that the world does not heat by the 2-3 degrees we have already committed to, but by a further degree or more. If I had the finances to invest in a bet on how global emissions play over the coming decade, this would safely sort out my pension worries.

Not one to get stuck thinking inside the box, her musings on the problems of climate change and over population at least hold out the promise of a solution: “I have begun discussing the question with climate scientists, engineers, sociologists and philosophers. The most obvious logical solution is to move the people where the resources are, and I explore this idea in a recent article. There are other options. How about enforced sterilization of people that have produced one child - this would immediately shrink the population? Or serious development of alternative habitable zones, for instance those in the ocean or on the Moon?” So, aside from being an end of the world, global warming doomsayer, lovely Gaia is also in favor of government enforced sterilization and possibly moving to the moon.

If that makes you think the lady is bummed out about climate change and the ultimate fate of humanity here is another tidbit from the New Scientist article: “the most terrifying prospect of a world warmed by 4 °C is that it may be impossible to return to anything resembling today's varied and abundant Earth. Worse still, most models agree that once there is a 4 °C rise, the juggernaut of warming will be unstoppable, and humanity's fate more uncertain than ever.”

As I have said in the past, an easy way to detect global warming eco-doom hype is to listen for the words “unprecedented,” “irreversible,” and “tipping point.” I think that I will have to add “unstoppable” and “juggernaut of warming” to the bullshit detection tripwire list.

Sad because she "missed the dinosaurs," Gaia quit her job and is wandering the earth with her partner, Nick, trying to see the sights before mankind's excesses lay wast to the planet. Perhaps they see themselves as the couple in the Diesel fashion ad shown below. In any case, for proving that real space cadet journalists are still freely roaming our planet this Crank of the Week is all yours, Gaia.

Missed the point

I think you might have missed the point about sterilisation etc... She is not advocating it, but saying this is the kind of scary stuff governments would think about given extreme circumstances. Will be great if people are allowed literary rhetoric without the need for a disclaimer at the end to help less nimble readers.

New "Glacier Man" article by Gaia Vince

Gaia is still alive and doing well to judge by her new article in the journal Science. The article is a human interest piece, not a refereed scientific paper. It is a profile of Chewang Norphel, also know as the "Glacier Man." Here is the abstract from the October 30, 2009, issue of Science:

By diverting water that flows down mountainsides in winter into regularly placed stone embankments, Chewang Norphel has built 10 artificial glaciers in the barren, high-altitude desert of the trans-Himalayas, which sustain crops that feed some 10,000 people. It's become his obsession. Part engineer, hydrologist, and glaciologist, Norphel has had to create his own field of expertise. Thanks to his talent, Norphel is now known as "Glacier Man" among the locals in these mountains.

It looks like her partner Nick provided the pictures. To read the rest of the article go here. Unfortunatly, you must have an AAAS membership to view the article, or a nearby library with an institutional subscription.


Let us suppose that her dire predictions could possibly come true. Who annointed her to decide what the 'best' status of earth is? Where does she get the idea that she, or any other group, would have the right to force such things as sterilization on others?

Now if she wanted to lead a movement for VOLUNTARY sterilization, I would say go for it. In fact, I strongly believe she should lead the way and become a sterling example of responsible stewardship of the earth by having it done on herself.

Winners are friends

Interestingly, Gaia claims to be a personal friend of Jo Marchant, a previous Crank of the Week winner. Both have written for New Scientist in the past. Why does that magazine attract wacko eco-chicks?