In The Daily Telegraph yester-day (March 14, 2011) Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, relates that, on Friday morning, a caller to a London radio station said something as illuminating as it was breathtakingly stupid : he attributed the magnitude-8.9 earthquake that had occurred shortly before six-o’clock London time off the coast of Japan to man’s constantly digging for oil and the planet’s anger at the intrusion. Apparently the caller likened the Earth to “some vast animal shrugging its pelt at an irritating flea-bite” – mankind being the flea.
Pointing out the absence of a connexion between man’s “feeble scrapings and probings for oil [and] other minerals”, he goes on to say that the appalling events of the past few days are just a manifestation of the story of mind-boggling violence that is geology. Why did India collide with the rest of Asia, pushing up the land now known as the Himalayas ; or South America split off from Africa and the rest of Gondwanaland ? Surely not because some pre-historic humans were fossicking around for oil.