back to article ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. - Humans begin artificial CO2 emissions

Fossil-furtling boffins have announced that the human race was burning things - and irresponsibly releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere - fully a million years ago, some 300,000 years earlier than had been thought. "Human ancestors as early as Homo erectus may have begun using fire as part of their way of life," …


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  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. NomNomNom

    the bootnote is longer than the article...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hi Lewis, how's Fukushima doing

    that is all

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: Hi Lewis, how's Fukushima doing

      Much better than it's design brief.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hi Lewis, how's Fukushima doing

      Still zero deaths and falling.

      Much better than the earthquake and tsunami.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Prometheus to be Charged in AGW Lawsuit"

  5. Matt Bryant Silver badge


    "....nobody is openly advocating a return to universal mass illiteracy." Well, what the hippies are actually saying is they want us to stop doing all the nasty, carbon-producing energy stuff, but somehow still manage to maintain the same lifestyle (except with more hemp clothing), so they can all still use their iPhones to bleat about how green they are. That is the problem - they cannot have one without the other, and massively reducing our carbon emissions by their suggested route (no travel, no heating, no use of anything electrical by the general masses) will reduce us to exactly the type of living-in-a-cave illiteracy. The only viable alternative - massive investment in nuke power stations - is simply unacceptable to them.

    1. cyborg

      Re: Actuallly.....

      I think that's the point - they may not be advocating it but that doesn't mean it wouldn't be a consequence of their actions.

    2. NomNomNom

      Re: Actuallly.....

      Don't confuse people who want to reduce carbon emissions with greens. A lot of people who want carbon emissions reduced are realists who understand how significant and dangerous the uncontrolled jump in atmospheric CO2 is. Nuclear power as a key part of de-carbonization. France for example has massively reduced carbon emissions through nuclear power.

      The only reason fossil fuels are so cheap is that the atmosphere is being using as a garbage dump and no-one has to pay the cost of disposal. If the cost of disposal was met then energy would cost more, but what if that's the real cost of energy? What if the current behaviour of just dumping all the CO2 in the atmosphere is a bubble akin to the economic debt bubble with a potentially massive cost being pushed down the line so that it's cheaper for us today?

      Energy costs more than it's currently priced at. If the real price precludes mass air travel and crazy levels of lighting and heating in houses, then that's just reality. People have to learn to accept that just as the Greeks had to learn their lifestyles were unsustainable.

      People don't like to hear that, which is why so many people push back against the idea, even trying to attack the underlying science warning of dangers.

      1. NomNomNom

        Re: Actuallly.....

        Forgot to add: ultimately I am sure we will develop fusion or some easy, cheap carbon neutral energy source and then we can use as much energy as we want. Masses of lighting, heating, planes everywhere, etc. I am just arguing that we might be ahead of ourselves, fossil fuels being used to fuel an unsustainable boom.

        1. James Micallef Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Actuallly.....

          @Nomnomnom - well said. This idea that "greens" are all sandal-wearing hippies living on eco-communes + iPhones is preposterous, it's a caricature of the extreme fringe, the polar opposite of a baby-eating capitalist who lights his cigars with $100 bills and uses their manservant as a footstool.

          I consider myself a "green" in the sense that I think that we should recognise that it's possible for a large population of humans to live comfortable on this planet without occupying every square inch of land and destroying every other ecosystem to do so. Development is not automatically good, there are always trade-offs to be made. That's why I think the way forward is a combination of nuclear power + heavy investment in research on solar (not so useful for UK, extremely useful for the vast majority of the world who live in warmer climates) and a phase-out of carbon fuels, while at the same time the price of energy has to rise to reflect it's true cost. This can happen without severe economic losses because improvements in efficiency will offset the initial cost. (as with most infrastructure projects, we would be bearing more cost now and reaping more benefits later, this is where a lot of resistance comes in. The desire for instant gratification is what fuels bubbles and leads to unholy messes in the economy)

          I agree with Lewis Page that I don't want to back to a world of poverty and illiteracy, but what he paints is an either-or black-and-white picture, as if diverting subsidies from carbon fuels to alternative energy research and increasing energy prices by 10% is going to result in a return to global poverty and illiteracy. (oh, and I thought this was an article on human prehistory, how the hell did it turn into a rant against fringe eco-mentalists? apparently the eco-mentalists don't have a monopoly on looniness)

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

            Re: Re: Actuallly.....

            James, you are confusing "greens" with "Greens", the two are actually completely different. I also consider myself green - for example, I recycle, I switch off electrical items and lights not in use, and I try to avoid wasteful use of my cars. But I don't browbeat those that don't. I also don't smoke, I gave up years ago because I realised the medical implications after looking at scientific evidence. If you chose to smoke, despite the scientific evidence, then I say that's your decision. Greens are different, they live to browbeat, not because they understand the scientific arguments (most don't, all they can do is repeat soundbites), and for many of them it seems to be born out of envy ("I can't afford a car, so I'll lecture you about yours") rather than real environmental concern.

            1. Some Beggar

              Re: Actuallly.....

              "Greens are different, they are an imaginary group I use as a straw man because I don't have a coherent argument against any real people."

              There. Fixed that for you. You're welcome.

              1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

                Re: Re: Actuallly.....

                And your post is just so replete with arguments - not! Seems you can't do anything but thrash around at straw men.

          2. GitMeMyShootinIrons

            Re: Actuallly.....

            " the polar opposite of a baby-eating capitalist who lights his cigars with $100 bills and uses their manservant as a footstool."

            Personally I find $100 bills old hat. Personally, I use a Panda fur covered lighter, using fuel derived from the blubber of baby seals. Mmm meaty.

            As for manservant as a foot stool? Why, I use illegal migrant workers. The manservant is there to hold my Daily Mail and Gin.

    3. Some Beggar
      Thumb Down

      Re: Actuallly.....

      "is simply unacceptable to them"

      Who is this "them" you are deriding? Many 'green' activists are proponents of nuclear power and have been for a number of years. Stephen Tindale of (ex of Greenpeace), Chris Smith of the Environment Agency, there are even a vocal minority within the Green Party who believe nuclear must be a part of our energy supply. I've been pro-nuclear since the 1980s. (I liked the Arctic Monkeys before they were famous too ... I'm well hip)

      The assumption that if one accepts the scientific consensus on climate change one must automatically be an anti-nukes "hippy" luddite buries whatever point you are trying to make under a steaming pile of misplaced condescension. The majority of scientists accept anthropogenic climate change. Some scientists are hippies but hardly any of them are luddites.

  6. Evil Auditor Silver badge


    Good joke, Lewis, now tell me who could have made fire more than 6,000 years ago?

    1. I think so I am?

      Re: Hahaha


      1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

        Re: Hahaha

        Darn right you are! I'm still new to this creative crap concept...

    2. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Hahaha

      More than 6,000 years ago?

      The predecessors to the Akkadian Empire certainly had fire. There may have even been an earlier "empire" before the "city" of which was likely more than 7,000 years ago as at least a fire burning village.

      The Elamite civilisation is about 6,000 years ago.

      The only reason we know anything much at all is survival of clay tablet writing preserved because the places got burnt.

      If there was a civilisation 10,000 years ago or 20,000 years ago they inconveniently didn't write on clay and set fire to the city. Anything else other than cave paintings would be gone.

      There is some suspicion that some cave "art" might include "writing". Which would push back literacy + fire to maybe 20,000 to 50,000 years. Maybe but dating can be controversial.

      1. Evil Auditor Silver badge


        Are you taking this seriously, don't you? But thank you, I haven't heard neither of Akkadia nor Elam before.

  7. regorama

    the author of this article has already begun to trek into illiteracy.

    I guess forest fires and volcanoes should be outlawed for the greater good!

  8. Silverburn


    This is all cobblers anyway - we all know man is a maximum of 6,000 years old, and all the imperical evidence is wrong.

    If I ever have the misfortune to host a BBQ with a creationist in attendance, I'm going to make him sit on my fossilised tree stump in the garden, and I'll inwardly bask in the irony of it.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. SuperTim

    Universal Mass Illiteracy

    Haven't the series of recent incompetent governments been advocating this policy, with their poor handling of various testing organisations and dilution of the teaching populace via removal of any kind of sanctions for "disruptive behaviour" in both classroom and home?

    I know they may not be doing it deliberately but God knows it is happening and many teenagers now sound uncannily like their caveman predecessors with their series of grunts!

    1. DanceMan

      Re: Universal Mass Illiteracy

      It's happening via the back door here in BC, by attacking teacher salaries and class sizes. Can't have the plebes thinking, it might affect their voting.

  10. Timmy B

    it's natural...

    "Socializing around a camp fire might actually be an essential aspect of what makes us human" says the artice. We are animals exhibiting our natural behaviour. Therefore the CO2 output from what we do is perfectly natural and eventually nature will balance us out. The human population will crash eventually, be it plague, disaster, or massive global cooling or warming. But nature will sort us out. Why are scientists able to see that it's part of the natural cycle of things and then get all in a fuss trying to control that cycle.

    1. Filippo Silver badge

      Re: it's natural...

      Us doing anything and everything in our power in order not to die, both personally and as a species, is ALSO a big part of our natural animal behaviour. The no-worries-nature-will-kill-us fatalism you display in your post is not very natural at all.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

        Re: Re: it's natural...

        "Us doing anything and everything in our power in order not to die, both personally and as a species, is ALSO a big part of our natural animal behaviour....." Actually, that is a massive problem too. The World is a finite resource. Consider what happens if we do manage the Green miracle - somehow massively reduce our carbon output, balance out the climate, heal and feed all the World's sick, etc, etc. Result? Eventual massive overpopulation, which will rapidly undo any attempts at balance. The only option then that doesn't include warfare or simply selective and limited breeding is to expand out to colonise other planets, which we won't be able to do without the tech we threw away to get our carbon output down.

        1. Some Beggar

          Re: it's natural...

          I bet you're a blast at parties.

    2. Schultz

      Re: it's natural...

      OK, humans are natural, so lets not get hooked up about natural versus anthropogenic. But nature will not sort us out on this one, the equilibrium state of earth contains no oxygen, hence very little energy for our convenience. Fortunately, the plants helped us out by pushing the earth from it's equilibrium state and creating a cozy environment for us animals. We currently dig up all fossil fuel we can possibly find, burning millenia worth of coal, oil and gas in days. How is nature gonna sort this out for us?

    3. Some Beggar

      Re: it's natural...

      Derp derp derp.

      Syphilis is natural. Those damned pesky boffins and their antibiotics. Why are they fussing about trying to control the natural cycle of disease.


  11. Some Beggar

    You need to find somebody new to argue with.

    I'm afraid Ray Bolger died twenty five years ago.

  12. T.a.f.T.

    Credit where credit is due

    "disaster, as annoying British people worked out ways to turn burning fuel into useful energy wholesale"

    Thanks for drawing attention to our achievements. BP (Once British Petroleum) messed up the gulf because we (as a species) are now hooked on fossil fuels thanks to a masterfully evil British plan. This is why we are always the villains in US media, isn't it.

  13. Antony Riley

    "Then, disaster, as annoying British people worked out ways to turn burning fuel into useful energy wholesale."

    Whilst I've nothing against blaming the British for everything, I think you're giving them too much credit here.

    1. Chris Miller

      Apart from internal combustion (a latecomer to the industrial party), every significant means of generating energy from fossil fuel was invented and/or developed in Britain.

      In Christmas 2010 there was an BBC Radio 4 "In Our Time" on the Industrial Revolution, in which retired Prof Pat Hudson argued that this was all the result of 'geographic determinism' (an obsolete Marxist view of history that was probably popular when she was a student), because supplies of water, coal and iron ore were readily accessible in (parts of) Britain. But this ignores the fact that the development of the factory system was initially based on water power alone.

      1. James Micallef Silver badge

        Britain responsible??

        "Apart from internal combustion, every significant means of generating energy from fossil fuel was invented and/or developed in Britain."

        I'd say the vast majority of worldwide fossil energy use comes from either internal combustion engines in cars, ships etc or variants of internal combustion engines that drive turbines for generating electricity. Not a lot of steam engines left around nowadays

        1. Chris Miller

          @James Micallef

          Apart from small-scale petrol-powered generators, electricity generation from fossil fuels is either by steam turbine (invented by Sir Charles Parsons) or gas turbine (complex history, but basically Sir Frank Whittle in its modern form). There are still turbine-powered ships around, though most are MVs these days.

          1. elderlybloke

            Re: @James Micallef

            Willy Messerschmitt actually was the first to design a jet engine that was used in a aircraft(powered the ME262 fighter in WW2) . We usually only hear about Whittle (Who I do admire).

            1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

              Re: Re: @James Micallef

              "Willy Messerschmitt actually was the first to design a jet engine that was used in a aircraft(powered the ME262 fighter in WW2) . We usually only hear about Whittle (Who I do admire)."

              Willy Messerschmitt didn't design any jet engines, the Me262 used BMW jet engines for development and then Junkers jet engines for production. It was also not the first designed-for-purpose jet fighter, that was the Heikel He280, designed by Robert Lusser, which was developed after the He178 became the first aircraft to fly only on jet engine power. Messerschmitt was very much a Johnny-come-lately to the jet arena, held up by his failed development of the Me209 and Me 210.

              The He280 was also remarkable in having a practical ejection seat, something Messerschmitt didn't even consider. If the He280 had been put into production in 1940 it would have given the Nazis uncontested air superiority over all fronts in 1941, and been available in large enough numbers to have made the USAAF bomber offensive in 1943 a massacare. It would also have allowed time for greater development of the rushed Me262 which would have made it a more effective aircraft. Thankfully, Udet and Goering were convinced that propeller-driven aircraft were more practical, and Hitler wasn't interested in anything that didn't carry bombs.

        2. Stoneshop Silver badge

          Re: Britain responsible??

          Maybe internal combustion engines are the biggest contributor *now* (but see 'steam turbines' and 'gas turbines'), but, as said, they've been around for a little over a century now where steam engines date back three times that. Steam powered the Industrial Revolution, resulting in better tools and machines to eventually build those IC engines en masse.

        3. Mike Richards

          Re: Britain responsible??

          The steam and gas turbines are both British so we'll claim them too - so that's one million points to the British and 1 point to the Germans.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        You should really try to get out of your little island sometimes:

        Extract from somewhere on the Interweb:

        The history of the steam engine stretches back as far as the first century AD; the first recorded rudimentary steam engine being the aeolipile described by Greek mathematician Hero of Alexandria.[3] In the following centuries, the few steam-powered 'engines' known about were essentially experimental devices used by inventors to demonstrate the properties of steam. A rudimentary steam turbine device was described by Taqi al-Din[4] in 1551 and by Giovanni Branca[5] in 1629.[6] Denis Papin a Huguenot refugee did so useful work on the steam digester in 1679, and first used a piston to raise weights in 1690.

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

          Re: Boulderdash!

          You missed the part where those early inventors did anything indutrially useful with steam. Oh, that's beacuse they didn't! It was us Brits that turned it into a practical system of benefit to many. Another aid to the World, brought to you by that nasty British Empire.

    2. Graham Bartlett

      Not really - steam engines were an entirely-British invention. Sure, if the Brits hadn't done it then someone else would have later, but it was Brits every step of the way. Savery came up with a first draft but never got it working, Newcomen got it working for pumping mines, Watt made major improvements for serious industrial use, Trevithick upped the pressure to make the engines smaller and more efficient (and hence suitable for locomotives), and the Stephensons got railways working properly.

      1. Roger Varley

        > and the Stephensons got railways working properly.

        and probably the first & only time they did.

  14. Pl0ns1971

    We don't need climate science any more - it's all because CO2 ;) Ignore sun spots and stop barbecue on weekend basis ! ;) If we pump more CO2 dinosaurs will happen again and they will eat all our sausages ;) But what about - Life had happened when it was much hotter and much more CO2 then

    nowadays - so how we can stop it by barbecuing ? ha It just makes more life around ;)

    Funny article ;) just for barbecue after fee "special brews" ;)

    1. Tim Parker


      How fitting this comment should discuss an article that touches on a "return to universal mass illiteracy"

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Missing the whole point/problem of man made emissions.

    The problem isn't burning bio materials, The problem is digging up and burning long ago captured CO2 via fossil fuels.

    But that would require an inkling of knowledge and common sense, wouldn't it?

    1. Chris Miller


      Which directly addresses this point, including the fact that clear felling forests to plant crops tends to increase atmospheric CO2. You're not missing an inkling of comprehension, by any chance?

    2. Pl0ns1971

      Re: Missing the whole point/problem of man made emissions.

      The problem are people who think that by stopping CO2 emissions will save "as all" and taxing as

      at the same time. Ignoring the common science in the name of financial reasons spreading false science.

      The climate will change as always if we like it or not and humans can't reverse natural cycles even if

      we collect all CO2 from atmosfere. The single sun can bake as in the moment of bad mood with CO2 or with out.

      Happy barbecuing.

      1. Jan 0


        You are still missing the point about illiteracy. Oh wait, the schools are on holiday.

  16. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    nobody is openly advocating a return to universal mass illiteracy.

    That will be why every kid leaves school able to read and write and ready for university; why refereed research papers are freely available to the masses; and why the public is so well educated and able to make judgements on scientific matters.

    Oh, wait...

  17. UglyFacts

    Biomass combustion doesn't add to the carbon cycle

    If humans had been burning fossil fuels early humans might have been able affect the atmosphere, but burning biomass cannot do that.

    It took a much larger population, industrialisation and fossil fuels to achieve that.

    You might as well claim that breathing perturbs the carbon cycle.

    What utter rubbish. If it were an April Fool this article might be justified.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Burning wood is carbon neutral, you twonk.

    1. Tom 13

      Re: Burning wood is carbon neutral, you twonk.

      Right! That's why all the Green orgs are in favor of clear cutting the jungles: It is completely carbon neutral.

    2. itzman
      Black Helicopters

      So is burning oil and coal. In a another ten billion years it will all be back under the ground.

      Anyway it was paleolithic 4WDs that ended the ice age and gave you Blackpool,. so shut up and be grateful.

      1. elderlybloke

        In 10 billion years we will all be extinct

        The problem is that the Sun will have reached the end of it life, gone through the Red Giant stage and be a White Dwarf glowing faintly, Earth will have been burned up/incinerated in the Red Giant stage. That will have been a very real Global Warming.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Given that we've had to apologise for just about every historical "wrong"

    such as slavery (even though we didn't invent it and led the way in abolition) which country/group can I sue for starting to ruin my planet?

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Given that we've had to apologise for just about every historical "wrong"

      If it wasn't for slavery the Steam Engine would have been economic 4000 years earlier...

      Oh dear.

  20. frankothemountain2

    Fire good

    Um, you kind of needed fire to cook and make heat. Are they genuinely surprised by this?

  21. timk

    "Fossil-furtling boffins have announced that the human race was burning things - and irresponsibly releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere - fully a million years ago, some 300,000 years earlier than had been thought."

    Someone please tell me this nonsense is an "Onionsesque" take on the news and not some word processor banging hipster wannabe desperately trying to be ironic.

    With such clever use of slang, Mr. Lewis is well on his way to a Wurlitzer prize. Or maybe the auto correct replaces scientist with "boffin" and he can't help it...

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Are fossil-furtling boffins scientists, or pre-historians? Who cares. This is El Reg and unless you are very new here you have got over Lewis' prose style by now.

      The word you *ought* to take issue with in that quote is "irresponsibly".

  22. John Hughes

    Possibly the worst article ever posted to El Reg.

    What is the point? For ideological reasons you don't want to accept AGW, but you recognise that there is no scientific reason to reject the theory. Ok. But why publish crap like this?

    "Fossil-furtling boffins have announced that the human race was burning things - and irresponsibly releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere - fully a million years ago, some 300,000 years earlier than had been thought."

    No, as you recognise yourself burning wood has no effect on atmospheric CO2. You've got to burn fossil fuels for that, and prehistoric oil refining was minimal.

    "Many people feel that reading, writing, and other such non-food-gathering, energy-related activities are a big part of what make us human - like socialising round the old camp fire. However all this has led to a lot more CO2 being emitted, which some say means we should go back to windmills and waterwheels: though nobody is openly advocating a return to universal mass illiteracy."

    WTF. Do you seriously think that the publishing industry is a major cause of our CO2 output? Are you really so deluded as to think that people who'd like to cut CO2 emissions want us to stop reading?

  23. hfhghg6767

    Way to go Lewis! =) My favourite reg journalists who seems to be the only one woh dares to write politically incorrect stuff.

    It is quite obvious after climate gate and the IPCC corruption that politicians are using the green house effect to increase taxes and control the population by making it impossible for the common man to fly due to the high future carbon taxes. Once the common man is then "grounded" the politicians can then increase the tax to 100% because it will be impossible to run.

    Add to that the "problems" of terrorism which motivates monitoring everybody all the time, and capitalism which motivates socializing all companies, and you have a neat recipe for 1984. So remember the three ingredients now...

    * Climate change - leads to increase taxes, making travel impossible.

    * Terrorism - leads to the surveillance of everyone.

    * Capitalism - leads to communism where private property is seen as immoral.

    Now go out there and throw out your politicians, and find me some libertarians! ;)

    1. John Hughes
      Thumb Down

      "politicaly" incorrect?

      "Way to go Lewis! =) My favourite reg journalists who seems to be the only one woh dares to write politically incorrect stuff."

      Or just plain bollocks?

    2. Some Beggar

      I'm sure that Lewis will be absolutely thrilled to add another conspiracy loon to his fanbase. Three more and he'll qualify for a gold card and free tinfoil from the first class fruitloop lounge.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle



    1. Anonymous Coward
      IT Angle



    2. Tom 13

      Re: IT?

      Who cares? It's Lewis Page at his finest on El Reg.

      Why, I expect he could write a review of Cats! and the comment section would burst into flame wars about AGW.

  25. itzman

    They may not be advicating mass illteracy, but..

    But it sure seems like they are planning it sometimes.

    Its after all, deeply elitist that some people can read and some are just too stupid to learn.

  26. DJ

    "We now know exactly what this creature looked like.."

    From the introduction of a Monty Python episode where the toe of a human foot is later determined to be the nose of some nonexistent animal.

    Cue the Evolutiontards...

  27. Dries Marais

    Don't jump to confusions, I say

    Geez... is this "find" and the subsequent "finding" not a little over zealous? These guys are known for jumping the gun.

    More likely the lady had brought in some charcoal twigs or tree limbs that had been burnt in a natural fire to make pretty marks on her face and brighten up the cave walls with artful designs.

    The whole message is that THEY started the fire. Like hell they did....

    Did they find how the fire had been started?

    Now THAT find would have said something.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Isn't this "Cloud Computing"

    'Anyone but me think this article should have appeared under "Cloud Computing"?

  29. lord_farquaad


    I am impressed by your imaginative way of using use of fire by prehistoric man to pretend that gengerating CO2 is what makes us human, and trying to get to our minds that we have to continue to generate the more CO2.

    Brilliant Thesis.

    What about demonstrating that lying is an essential part of being human ?

    We have an actual proof here ...

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