(AP) APRIL 15. The renowned Center for Human Cupablility (CHC)today released a study that implicates human activity as a primary cause for the recent spate of earthquakes. Derek Hoaks, professor of Gaia Studies at East Anglia University and current president of CHC, held a conference in Geneva today at which he presented what some called stark evidence in support of CHC's claim. More specifically, the CHC attributes the growing frequency and strength of earthquakes to the unchecked growth of urban areas across the globe and the concomitant increase in buildings and infrasturture.
"Trillions of tons of concrete and steel have been pressed down upon the earth's mantle over the past hundred years," Professor Hoaks pointed out. "The increase in pressure on the unprotected earth would be the equivalent of 450 pounds of bricks placed on the average person's head. Who in their right mind would think that the earth would not respond in a negative way to this burden?"
The CHC's presentation included a slide which showed a dramatic increase in earthquake intensity over the past two hundred years. The next slide that Prof. Hoaks presented charted over that same period an equally dramatic tonnage increase in human building activity. Many at the press conference literally gasped at the obvious overlap. Some in the media dubbed the correlation as "eerie" and "alarming." Gerhard Sturmdrang with The Union of Concerned Scientists called attention to the 45 degree up slope of both graphs at the beginning of the 20th century. "A hockey stick if I've seen one!" he exclaimed. Gabriele Sandlewood, a reporter with the Guardian, wiped tears from her eyes as she declared, "How many more earthqukes will it take to wake people up?"
One or two reporters did express some skepticism that the striking correlation proved that human activity causes earthquakes. One reporter, planted at the conference by The Wall Street Journal, caused a slight disruption when he raised the possibility that the increase in earthquakes perhaps reflects our greater ability to monitor them. Prof. Hoaks sublimely answered, "And so I guess that means that if a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, then the tree didn't really fall? Tell that to the squirrel that the tree fell on." When the reporter noisily protested that the Professor had not answered his question, he was quickly ushered out of the press room.
The CHC proposed an "Immediate Action Agenda," which called for local governments everywhere to enact moratoriums on new construction until a specially designated UN commission had time to develop a more comprehensive global program to mitigate the pressure that humans are imposing on the earth's surface. Such a comprehensive program, Prof. Hoaks said, must at the very least require that any new building or construction must be offset with an equal amount of tonnage destruction so that the net amount of additional "mantle pressure" stays the same. The CHC believes that the ultimate solution to this worldwide problem will mean that humans must drastically downsize the amount of living and working space that they require. "Why does anyone need more than 200 square feet of space to sleep and eat in?" Prof. Hoaks rhetorically asked. The CHC also advocates the use of material other than "carbon derivatives" such as steel be used in building construction. He cites Japanese "paper houses" as a model to be followed. Prof. Hoaks ended by asserting, "The age of the skyscrapper--that phallic symbol of the industrial age-- is most certainly over."
Calls to action immediately followed the press conference. Greepeace proposed that a mulitnational conference be convened to address the issue of human responsibilty for the rise in earthquakes. Susan Sarandon, who attended the press conference, afterwards held her own press conference at which she announced that she would be producing a documentary entitled, "The Heavy Human Load."
As people exited the room, bets were already being wagered as to how soon Prof. Hoaks would get his Nobel Peace Prize.