I have just watched a YouTube video of a lecture by Matt Ridley, who I've written about before - here and here and here. He's in Australia and spoke to the IPA (the Institute of Public Affairs is a right wing lobby group posing as a "think tank").
The crackpot comment
In the video Matt Ridley complained that some people call him a crackpot. I don't think he's a crackpot. He's a climate science disinformer who knows exactly what he's doing and what he wants.
He's not a crackpot but he was wrong when he claimed (citing his GWPF mate, Richard Tol) that earth will benefit from global warming for the next 70 years. That is, until 2083. And I expect he knows he's wrong. If he doesn't he should. He's clever enough to figure it out. (Matt didn't say what he thinks will happen after that or whether, just maybe, we should start acting now to reduce the harm after his 70 years are up.)
I'm not familiar enough with Richard Tol's work to know if he's ever found that the world will be better off with global warming for the next seventy years. Or whether Matt or Richard have more prescience than climate scientists and know exactly how much CO2 we will emit over the coming seventy years.
Who made the world a better place - the pessimists or the optimists or both?
In the first five minutes of the video, Matt Ridley complained about what he regards as left wing pessimists who warned the world about overpopulation, famine, the hole in the ozone layer, unbreathable air, acid rain and other problems the world faced.
He spent the next ten minutes gloating that we shouldn't have been concerned about any of those things because none of them caused major problems.
He argued against government intervention. He is very much against government intervention.
Why is the world as clean as it is today? Why isn't the world population even greater?
What Matt didn't admit to (does he even recognise it?) was that the reason that these are no longer the big problems that they might have been is because of people power. Because of environmentalists and scientists and particularly because of people like Paul Erlich, who Matt seemed to think was an irrational pessimist:
- Ozone hole - addressed by the intergovernmental agreement, the Montreal Protocol
- Over-population - being addressed by international aid programs and particularly by family planning education and subsidised access to birth control - in the developed world and the less developed world
- Acid rain - being addressed by clean air regulation and pollution controls
- Smog - being addressed by clean air regulations and pollution controls
So why is Matt Ridley arguing against controls to limit the harm we are doing to the earth by polluting the air with CO2?
It was controls and government intervention that addressed all the problems he cited as not being as bad as the pessimists said they would be. Matt must realise that but decided not to admit it.
A bit boring...
Incidentally, Matt Ridley is not a very good speaker. His speaking voice is okay with sufficient intonation but his speech was overpopulated with quotes, rambled from one topic to another and came across as nothing but a sop to the audience. I guess the audience liked it enough. At least some of them stayed awake and laughed when they were supposed to. However his talk had no coherent message that I could fathom. He shifted from climate change and environmental issues to free trade. I'm in favour of free trade (ie I don't favour tariffs and quotas as a rule) but I also think that societal controls are very important. We can have both.
Rich capitalists are kind people
Matt spent much of the latter part of his speech rationalising his approach to the world, extolling the virtues of capitalism and saying how kind all the rich people are because they are giving work to people in sweatshops. Is that what he means by "a rational(ising) optimist"?
CO2 is plant food!
Oh, and he finished up with "CO2 is plant food"!