h/t Julie Kelly in Matt Ridley: Climate Change Rational Optimist
He calls himself a “lukewarmer” on climate change. The author of several scientific books — including The Rational Optimist, his paean about how human grit and ingenuity have historically prevailed over a harsh natural world — Ridley acknowledges that the greenhouse-gas effect is real and humans have caused most of the warming over the past 50 years: “I just don’t think it will ever get dangerous, and if it does, by that time, we will have had plenty of time to adapt to it with new technologies,” he told me from his home in northern England.
While most reasonable people would agree with his logical and hopeful approach to potential global catastrophe, the irrational pessimists leading the international climate-change crusade consider it heresy. Many have smeared Viscount Ridley, who is also a Conservative-party member of the House of Lords, as a climate “denier” and targeted him for professional destruction. “I’ve written about many controversial issues during my career,” Ridley said. “Never, have I ever experienced anything like what happens when you write about climate, which is a systematic and organized attempt to blacken your name rather than your arguments, and to try to pressure any outlet that publishes me into not publishing me any more.” A group of activists and scientists is urging the Times (U.K.) to stop publishing a regular column authored by Ridley because his views often challenge the climate tribe’s reigning dogma…
This rational optimist is now talking about the benefits of rising carbon dioxide emissions. In a speech last year at the Royal Society of London, Ridley presented the evidence on global greening, which is the spread of green vegetation around the world over the past 30 years. It is called the “CO2 fertilization effect” and is caused by elevated carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere… We have more croplands, grasslands, and forests now than we did in the 1980s. “Frankly, I think this is big news,” Ridley told the audience. “A new continent’s worth of green vegetation in a single human generation.”
Ridley also presented a study published in Nature Climate Change in April 2016 that showed how rising CO2 levels could enhance photosynthesis and reduce water use…
“This is a huge global phenomenon, which is bringing enormous financial benefits to agriculture,” Ridley told me. “That means we have a genuine benefit to carbon dioxide that surely must be taken into account if you are calculating the social cost of carbon. Given that we are not seeing any clear impact on droughts, floods, or storms, it is very hard to argue that there have been net negatives to carbon from climate change so far. In fact, there have clearly been net benefits.” Grain production worldwide hit an all-time high in 2016, with global cereal production 5.5 million tons higher than the peak year of 2014, according to the United Nations.
It seems like Ridley’s timing couldn’t be better for him and worse for the carbon-is-poison crowd. Last week, the scientific establishment had a bench-clearing brawl over a new climate study that suggests we have a much bigger “carbon budget” to burn before we reach the danger zone in global temperatures. … Ridley told me he welcomes the climb-down:
This is a long overdue public concession by mainstream climate scientists — though the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] has also admitted it in somewhat obscure language two years ago — that the models they rely upon have been running too hot, predicting too much warming. They now admit that the 2°C threshold, which is when climate change is expected to do net harm, will not be reached at this rate for 80 years, roughly the end of the century. I would be amazed if the much richer people of the later 21st century have not cracked fusion or some other efficient source of low-carbon energy by then.
Climate scientists, environmentalists, and politicians here and abroad could use a healthy dose of that kind of rational optimism. Instead, they will no doubt continue their scare tactics, push their unattainable and punitive zero-emissions goal, and bully any “denier” who doesn’t capitulate to their political agenda.