The recurrent problem of green scares that don’t live up to the hype

By Matt Ridley (originally in the Wall Street Journal, sent to WUWT by the author)

‘We’ve heard these same stale arguments before,” said President Obama in his speech on climate change last week, referring to those who worry that the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon-reduction plan may do more harm than good. The trouble is, we’ve heard his stale argument before, too: that we’re doomed if we don’t do what the environmental pressure groups tell us, and saved if we do. And it has frequently turned out to be really bad advice.

Making dire predictions is what environmental groups do for a living, and it’s a competitive market, so they exaggerate. Virtually every environmental threat of the past few decades has been greatly exaggerated. Pesticides were not causing a cancer epidemic, as Rachel Carson claimed in her 1962 book “Silent Spring”; acid rain was not devastating German forests, as the Green Party in that country said in the 1980s; the ozone hole was not making rabbits and salmon blind, as Al Gore warned in the 1990s. Yet taking precautionary action against pesticides, acid rain and ozone thinning proved manageable, so maybe not much harm was done.

Climate change is different. President Obama’s plan to cut U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions from electricity plants by 32% (from 2005 levels) by 2030 would cut global emissions by about 2%. By that time, according to Energy Information Administration data analyzed by Heritage Foundation statistician Kevin Dayaratna, the carbon plan could cost the U.S. up to $1 trillion in lost GDP. The measures needed to decarbonize world energy are going to be vastly more expensive. So we had better be sure that we are not exaggerating the problem.

But it isn’t just that environmental threats have a habit of turning out less bad than feared; it’s that the remedies sometimes prove worse than the disease.

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are a case in point. After 20 years and billions of meals, there is still no evidence that they harm human health, and ample evidence of their environmental and humanitarian benefits. Vitamin-enhanced GM “golden rice” has been ready to save lives for years, but opposed at every step by Greenpeace. Bangladeshi eggplant growers spray their crops with insecticides up to 140 times in a season, risking their own health, because the insect-resistant GMO version of the plant is fiercely opposed by environmentalists. Opposition to GMOs has certainly cost lives.

Besides, what did GMOs replace? Before transgenic crop improvement was invented, the main way to breed new varieties was “mutation breeding”: to scramble a plant’s DNA randomly, using gamma rays or chemical mutagens, in the hope that some of the monsters thus produced would have better yields or novel characteristics. Golden Promise barley, for example, a favorite of organic brewers, was produced this way. This method still faces no special regulation, whereas precise transfer of single well known genes, which could not possibly be less safe, does.

Environmentalists are currently opposing neonicotinoid pesticides on the grounds that they may hurt bee populations, even though the European Union notes that honeybee numbers have been rising in the 20 years since they were introduced. The effect in Europe has been to cause farmers to return to much more harmful pyrethroid insecticides, which are sprayed on crops instead of used as seed dressing, hitting innocent bystander insects. And if Europeans had been allowed to grow GMOs, then less pesticide would be necessary. Again, green precaution increases risks.

Nuclear power has been energetically opposed by the environmental lobby for decades, on the grounds of danger. Yet nuclear power causes fewer deaths per unit of energy generated than even wind and solar power. Compared with fossil fuels, nuclear power has prevented 1.84 million more deaths than it caused, according to a study by two NASA researchers. Opposition to nuclear power has cost lives.

Likewise widespread opposition to fracking for shale gas, based almost entirely on myths and lies, as Reason magazine’s science correspondent, Ronald Bailey, has reported. This opposition has substantially delayed the growth of onshore gas production in Europe and in parts of the U.S. That has meant more reliance on offshore gas, Russian gas, and coal—all of which have greater safety issues and environmental risks. Opposition to fracking has hurt the environment.

In short, the environmental movement has repeatedly denied people access to safer technologies and forced them to rely on dirtier, riskier or more harmful ones. It is adept at exploiting people’s suspicion of anything new.

Many exaggerated early claims about the dangers of climate change have now been debunked. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has explicitly abandoned previous claims that malaria will likely get worse, that the Gulf Stream will stop flowing, the Greenland or West Antarctic Ice sheet will disintegrate, a sudden methane release from the Arctic is likely, the monsoon will collapse or long-term droughts will become more likely.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ledger, in contrast to our experience with acid rain and the ozone layer, the financial, humanitarian and environmental price of decarbonizing the energy supply is proving much steeper than expected. Despite falling costs of solar panels, the system cost of solar power, including land, transmission, maintenance and nighttime backup, remains high. The environmental impact of wind power—deforestation, killing of birds of prey, mining of rare earth metals—is worse than expected. According to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, these two sources of power provided, between them, just 1.35% of world energy in 2014, cutting emissions by even less than that.

Indoor air pollution, caused mainly by cooking over wood fires indoors, is the world’s biggest cause of environmental death. It kills an estimated four million people every year, as noted by the nonprofit science news website, SciDev. Net. Getting fossil-fueled electricity and gas to them is the cheapest and quickest way to save their lives. To argue that the increasingly small risk of dangerous climate change many decades hence is something they should be more worried about is positively obscene.

Mr. Ridley is the author of “The Rational Optimist” (HarperCollins, 2010) and a member of the British House of Lords. His family leases land for coal mining in northern England.


232 thoughts on “The recurrent problem of green scares that don’t live up to the hype

    • My only complaint is his assumption at the beginning that there is even a chance that the acid rain/pesticide cancer/ozone hole scares of past decades might have been over all beneficial.

      • …so maybe not much harm was done.

        That’s not a claim that the actions may have been beneficial.

      • Precisely. The only benefit I can see that’s arisen from the Montreal Protocol is DuPont’s and global air conditioner service agents’ profit margins from swapping to a different refrigerant.

    • Matt, if you read my blog on this subject :

      I firmly believe that TCR for CO2 doubling is < 0.9C and that many scares of Environmentalists are easily falsified. The quality of science for almost every alarmist prediction article is below the threshold to publish yet they get published.

      However, I still consider myself an environmentalist because I don't believe any of the purported dangers actually endanger anything. That's not to say nothing endangers us or our future.

      Where I draw the line is when we are operating in ignorance. Like climate "science" which is a science operating in ignorance, genetics has some serious deficiencies. Certainly there is a lot known and we can run experiments and prove many things unlike climate science. However, we must still be cognizant of how new we are to this field of genetics and what kinds of things are unknown.

      My article tries to outline in very simple terms some of the basic things which we lack in understanding about genetics. The most stark the recent discovery (10 years ago) of the second genetic code called epigenetic code is indicative of how little we actually understand how all this works. I find it amazing because like many problems in AGW theory I found obvious a serious combinatorial problem in genetics. The gene code was far too small to possibly specify how to build and run a human body. It is now clear these were 2 separate things and that possibly the 98% of the DNA we thought was junk turns out to be the control logic. We still don't understand how this control logic works exactly. We don't understand how genes work actually. We don't understand much about this field even though we are making advances every day.

      Recently I read an article that showed how plants under stress will transmit MORE genetic diversity by actually producing multiple copies of chromosomes to cause increasing mutations and variance. We have discovered that plants can influence their offspring genetic code from their experiences while alive which was thought impossible. We have learned that new genetic information can be gained while a DNA based creature is alive and passed on to children, that there is a "play area" for new genetic material and some of this could be passed on to children. We have learned there are not 4 chemicals in DNA but a 5th chemical in the epigenetic code and now recently (in the last year) a 6th chemical. We don't know if that chemical is being used by humans or not.

      I am not suggesting these are the vectors for possible problems with these plant variations. I have no idea how problems might occur. My point is simply that our ignorance is enormous. Can we admit that? Let's not be arrogant like the Climate queens and assert we know more than we do.

      I realize that some of these new plants are well tested and some may in fact be perfectly safe. I certainly hope so. However, we just are too new to this field to go about playing too much. I am sorry but I personally advocate a very conservative position with respect to actually experimenting with genetic code in any large scale deployment.

      We cannot possibly know how these things will show up or affect things in the future and more important we have no way of FIXING things if we are wrong. If something goes terribly wrong our facility to damage control or to fix or to undo is completely untested and unknown. We could easily in an attempt to fix something end up doing something even worse.

      This problem is not unsolvable. It's just going to take 10 or 20 years before we can even assess if we have enough knowledge but I think it is clear we don't now have the knowledge to go ahead with lots of these things today. I know many people have lives and incomes staked on trying these things and that the demonstrated benefits imperil lives of people.

      Possibly one or two could be tried for the next decade. However, I would strongly argue against any general "this is safe" science, let's do all kinds of cool ideas.

  1. Many of the “scares” supported well-meaning but well, downright stupid greenuts have been created by those with nothing but restrictive business goal in mind.

    The “Palm Oil will kill you!” (but all-American Canola will not! Is a prime example.

    To hell with your wallet …and the truth

    • The first three letters of Canola tell you where it was invented: Canada.

      There is bizarre claim that Canola oil is toxic: Rape (the oilseed) is a member of the Mustard family, mustard gas is poison, so Canola is too. Natural food types actually believe this!

      • Don’t forget that Rape is the archetypal Patriarchal mechanism for oppressing Females … And gays too I guess.

      • At one time it may have been somewhat toxic because of high levels of erucic acid (30-60%) but the plant was selectively bred to reduce this to a mandated FDA limit of 1% max. (per Snopes). As to the mustard gas, there are sites that do promulgate this belief and more, see the following by a doctor no less:

        “Rape oil is also the source of the infamous chemical-warfare agent, mustard gas, which was banned after blistering the lungs and skin of thousands of soldiers and civilians during World War I. Recent French reports indicate that is was again used during the Gulf War.
        Canola oil contains large amounts of cyanide containing compounds called isothiocyanates. Its chemical relative, cyanide, inhibits mitochondrial production of your body’s major energy molecule called ATP, short for adenosine triphosphate. This energy molecule fuels virtually every metabolic function.”

      • I have actually read the argument that “rape” is bad therefore something made from “rapeseed” can’t be good for you. And yes, it was being made seriously.

      • Mustard is a member of the Cabbage family – along with Broccolli, the natural food fanatics’ favourite.

        Just don’t tell them that Strawberries have 50 different poisons in them!

  2. European and American historians were amazed at the prediction re malaria. In these places it was associated with the Little Ice Age.

  3. I’ve been hoping you would publish an article like this. We need to hold these environmentalists accountable. They use the public treasury as a personal bank account to fund propaganda to raise donations. They give no concern what so ever as far as the cost to society, and are willing to gamble our future on pure nonsense. The best example I can think of is how banning DDT has resulted in the deaths of millions of sub-Saharan Africans. Even is DDT does thin bird eggs the human costs far out weigh the benefits of banning DDT. The extreme nature of these groups is frightening. They don’t seem to even consider cost beenfit analysis. Power and control is all they seem to care about. This is also another reason why we need a Scientific Data and Conclusion Verification and Validation Agency to ensure double blind analysis of all research going into decision making process of public funds. As long as no one is held accountable the leftists will continue to loot the public treasury and push for higher regulations. That is how the lawyers and NGOs make their money.

    If black lives do in fact matter, lift the DDT ban. The only time liberals claim black lives matter is after a White Cop accidentally shoots one. The countless black on black deaths that occur in our inner cities go ignored. Only where there is political gain to be made does the left care about black lives.


  4. “Making dire predictions is what environmental groups do for a living, and it’s a competitive market, so they exaggerate. Virtually every environmental threat of the past few decades has been greatly exaggerated. Pesticides were not causing a cancer epidemic, as Rachel Carson claimed in her 1962 book “Silent Spring”; acid rain was not devastating German forests, as the Green Party in that country said in the 1980s; the ozone hole was not making rabbits and salmon blind, as Al Gore warned in the 1990s. Yet taking precautionary action against pesticides, acid rain and ozone thinning proved manageable, so maybe not much harm was done.”

    Bad examples. How do you know threats were exaggerated, when the precautionary actions made sure the alleged threats did not materialize?

    • We didn’t stop using pesticides…Europe uses more than ever thanks to its ban on GMO’s, the developing world drowns its crops in the stuff. The ozone hole is the same size as it was when it was first observed. Acid rain was always a local pollution problem not even national never mind global.

      • We stopped using some pesticides, stopped several emissions from coal plants, stopped emissions from CFKs. I said those were bad examples because you cannot tell now that the warnings back then were exaggerated, when measures were taken to prevent the (possible) bad outcomes.

      • In your “opinion” cutting pollution by 1% completely eliminated acid rain?
        In your “opinion” cutting pesticide use by a similar amount prevented the cancer epidemic that had been predicted?

      • Regarding the ozone hole, CFCs, etc. I have always wondered if the ozone hole is a natural phenomena. After all, it appears exactly where you would expect – an area with a low angle of incidence of ionising radiation, which has to go through a lot of atmosphere & be absorbed by it, before it reaches the pole. You would expect it to be a place with minimal ozone). Also, there were never any observations of the area before CFCs were used widely. Finally, the ozone hole hasn’t disappeared when we stopped using CFCs.

        I know it is a bit outside the remit of this site, but it would be interesting to have a graph of the ozone hole over time. I have long felt that this is another case of scientific activism, just less harmful than most instances.

      • Wagen seems to believe that in those particular cases “the precautionary principle worked”,,, except there is no factual evidence to suggest that it did. As others have pointed out, after the CFC ban, there was no demonstrable change in the “ozone hole” other than continual fluctuations based on other factors completely unrelated to CFCs. As for Acid Rain, China now pollutes the global atmosphere on an annual basis far more than the US did back in the 1960’s through 1980s, and no one even MENTIONS Acid Rain anymore, so even with more “global pollution” it has somehow ceased to be a concern. Many MANY studies have demonstrated that the only real accomplishment of banning DDT was to kill somewhere in the Neighborhood of 35 to 50 million Africans, which simply CANNOT be construed as any sort of benefit by any rational person.

      • “Wagen seems to believe that in those particular cases “the precautionary principle worked”,,, except there is no factual evidence to suggest that it did.”

        No, I said they were bad examples. How do you know the dire predictions were exaggerated when -because of collective action- it was made sure that there was no chance of the predictions actually coming true (or not when they really were exaggerations).

    • Simple, look at the facts. There never was a correlation between the areas with the highest pollution and acid rain, and there were always alternate and more sensible explanations for lake acidification.
      We haven’t stopped using pesticides, yet none of the disasters predicted have occurred.
      There never was a correlation between CFC use and ozone levels, and this has continued in the 30 years since they were banned.

    • Even the National Geographic, in its article on malaria, said the ban on DDT was responsible for the unnecessary death of 35 million children.

  5. Our world’s leading environmental problems: Lack of pure clean air to breath and pure clean water to drink.Exists no Climate threat. Only stupid non educated so called scholars not understanding Facts not Fiction, Facts are what matters

    Theories built on computer models are what we who became systemprogrammers in early 70’s called and still calls Shit in ->Shit out…. It takes more than a model using less than 1/4 of needed premisses who needs to be proven true to write a solid and sound program…. IF you correct any data what so ever – then your program isn’t sound nor solid any more. Simple as that.

  6. ” After 20 years and billions of meals, there is still no evidence that they harm human health, and ample evidence of their environmental and humanitarian benefits.”

    Well, maybe… However, any newly introduced manipulation may change this. I think government regulation (ups! Sorry for that!) along the lines of medication is in order.

      • I have nothing against GMO in labs. Putting out GMO in the wild needs regulation. Ridley is against government regulation, but doesn’t address this issue. He sounds like he wants carte-blanche for the whole industry.

      • — Wagen
        August 17, 2015 at 4:38 pm

        I have nothing against GMO in labs. Putting out GMO in the wild needs regulation. Ridley is against government regulation, but doesn’t address this issue. He sounds like he wants carte-blanche for the whole industry.–

        No one saying that if you prove damages are done by industry in court, that such damage can’t be punished- it’s US law, and has been for couple centuries. And that is government.
        But hundreds thousand of pages of regulations ever growing yearly which amounts to a pile insane instruction manuals are not needed/helpful.
        There is no check on the bureaucracies which are arbitrary and despotic.

      • On the other hand, Wagen has no problem with doing genetic manipulation the old fashioned way, randomly.
        Then again, it’s not like he’s actually thought through any of his positions.

      • Wagen,

        There is a difference between “regulation” (which can, in some cases, be necessary), and an outright ban on GMO food sources. Most of the Eco-Zealots are demanding that GMOs NOT BE USED AT ALL, which, when they have clearly proven benefits, and no one has yet shown ANY detrimental effects whatsoever, is absurd.

    • I love the way some people are so afraid of change, that they are willing to kill millions in order to prevent it.

    • Dear Wagen,

      Transgenic plants already are regulated like medicines. Go to EFSA and look up the data packages submitted for the food crops which are approved in Europe (I am assuming you are European. If not, try USDA-APHIS in the US or CFIA-PBO in Canada or OGTR in Australia).

      Whereas, only one country in the world regulates plants produced with mutagenic compounds which have vastly more capacity to be harmful if not properly examined prior to release. Go figure.

      • “Transgenic plants already are regulated like medicines”

        Good! Sometimes things just need to be regulated. ;)

  7. Um, attempting to use facts and logic on the “Greens” who choose to ignore facts and logic

    simply isn’t logical, is it?

    • “Greens” who choose to ignore facts and logic

      It is a particular talent/quality/attribute with them and I’m not sure if it’s learned or occurs naturally.

    • Really a Guardian article that you probably never read since and I quote from it “…there was an absence of evidence to support the hypothesis that neonicotinoids harm bees…” just more alarmism. Also the US hive numbers have rebounded over this period of thanks to better hive management where they separate healthy and sick bees which implies it is a transmittable disease and not the environment.

    • I’m not seeing any rebounding of honeybees in the thumb of Michigan, about 3 years ago our Asparagus was crawling with honeybees, 2 years ago bumblebee populations seemed to spike, but this year both are down and the yellowjackets are increasing. In the past the yellowjackets and honeybees population seemed to run counter-cyclicly. From what I’ve read about colony collapse disorder, it’s most likely to be the result of multiple factors so I’m very skeptical and the article you liked to seemed to jump back and forth between data on honeybees and bumblebees.

      • We have 2 big catnip plants that flower this time of year. Honeybees by the hundreds cover them all day long. In our area there has been no change in the bee population. But that’s just a personal observation.

        If commercial honeybee hives are increasing, that is a fact. But every eco-scare has come to nothing, from ALAR on apples, to killer bees, to runaway global warming, etc. If there is another downturn in the number of hives, we will hear about it. Otherwise, things are improving.

        If you want lots of bees, I recommend catnip plants.

    • Wagen says:

      Are you sure? I am not. And then you quote the Guardian — a paper that makes Scientology look like real science.

      You and the Guardian are a fountain of misinformation. Bee colonies declined until around ’06-’08, but they have been rising ever since:

      • Mike McMillan August 17, 2015 at 8:18 pm
        Good news, but I still haven’t seen many around.

        I too see fewer but this may be due to more people keeping hives on their land/garden/allotment so the bee populations tend to be more ‘contained’ and not so widespread over large distances.

      • The bee recovery must bee only in commercial hives as twenty years ago I use to see them all over our flowering plants, now maybe one or two a year and some years none.

    • My point was that Ridley’s argument against government regulation (that is his central point) …

      Straw man argument; that’s not his central point. His point is that environmental pressure groups are unduly influencing government regulation via systemic scare mongering based on unsubstantiated BS, the outcome of which often turns out to be detrimental or just plain wrong.

      Worse, foxes in hen houses are now commonplace. Many wear diamond encrusted collars of the left handed variety. Environmental indoctrination should not, for example, feature disproportionately in every grade school subject from religious studies to physics. Pick up your kid’s text books and have a browse sometime.

      The ‘precautionary principle’ is an environmental propaganda construct, whatever happened to that stalwart of government the cost-benefit analysis? You’d think Governments would get a grip, this contrived Luddite interference is wearing thin. But the NGO money-go-round won’t be ending anytime soon of course. It’s too useful for political smoke and mirror play. Rest assured the EU will continue to fund the likes of Greenpeace for the foreseeable future. It’s only public money afterall and as we all know that’s tuppence a bucket full.

      In the UK George Osborne promised a bonfire of the quangos. Green ones appeared to be fireproof while the coalition was in place. Hopefully that’s beginning to change now, despite EU subdugation.

      • Ridley said:

        “Environmentalists are currently opposing neonicotinoid pesticides on the grounds that they may hurt bee populations,…”

        and he is portraying that as some crazy environmental scare-mongering. However, things are not as clear-cut as he portrays it. Neonicotinoids may be harmful to bees. If so, I would like regulation. That’s all.

      • The operative word being “may”. Evidence before regulation and less scare mongering in the meantime.

  8. I some times wonder if their goal is to so depress people that everybody is going to end up some sort of meds.

  9. “Compared with fossil fuels, nuclear power has prevented 1.84 million more deaths than it caused, according to a study by two NASA researchers”

    Sounds like a good reason to stop using fossil fuels!

    • I would happily shut down coal plants if there were nuclear plants coming on line to replace them.

      But there aren’t. Why is that?

      • No Insurance company wants to pay for the no-go areas (and all valuable property inside it) when it does go wrong (not saying it definitely would go wrong).

      • Wagen, since such disaster scenarios are impossible, why do you concern yourself with it?
        Is it possible that you are completely ignorant on this subject as well?

      • If nuclear is so safe, why is there legislation preventing citizens from suing their owners for damages over a limited amount?

      • “Wagen, since such disaster scenarios are impossible, why do you concern yourself with it?”

        Huh? What happened to real-estate values around Chernobyl and Fukushima?

    • And use what? Solar and wind kill way more than do fossil fuels? Or are you arguing that we should just stop using energy altogether?
      BTW, have you ever studied up on how many people were killed by animals before they were replaced the internal combustion engine?

  10. This is what happens when a community organizer gets his first management position after college … and that first management position it is President of the United States!

    He has improved relations with Iran and Cuba, so I can’y say he’s done nothing of value.

    I predict, in time, people will look back at Obama and see that he was the worst President in a century.

    The climate change boogeyman has always been an indirect attack on free market economics.

    The starting point Obama uses for economic measurements is near the trough of the last recession, when he became President.
    That ‘s deceptive — unbiased measurements are from business cycle trough to trough, or peak to peak.
    Today we’re much closer to a peak, so let’s compare 2Q 2015 with the prior peak (Q4 2007):
    Real GDP in Q2 2015 was at a $16.2 trillion annual rate (1st estimate).

    Q4 2007 was $15.0 trillion.

    The 30 quarters from Q4 2007 to Q2 2015 had a horrible +1.0% growth rate.

    And it would be even lower than +1.0% if the claimed inflation of +1.5% a year had been understated.

    Below are Real GDP final sales growth rates in related 30-month periods:

    – 3.5% in 30 months after Q2 1981 economic peak
    – 3.0% in 30 months after Q2 1990 economic peak
    – 2.1% in 30 months after Q2 2000 economic peak
    – 1.0% in 30 months after Q4 2007 economic peak

    Why is the economic growth rate slowing?

    Because there is a war on free market economics!

    Federal, state and local governments are borrowing too much money, and total debt is too high = slows growth.

    The EPA bypasses Congress with anti-business regulations = slows growth.

    The Democrats’ war on climate change is really a war on economic growth, which they falsely claim destroys the environment.

    It does in China, but they ignore China.

    School children are brainwashed to fear economic growth will destroy our planet … even as Earth’s climate in 2015 is better for plants and people than it has been for hundreds of years.

    Many claim capitalism is “unfair” … because people who provide great products may get rich!

    Slow growth socialism is replacing capitalism — the result is unusually slow formation of new businesses, and low capital investments by existing businesses.

    A war on economic growth is a war on everyone!

    People with capital to invest, who are the job creators, have too many reasons to avoid new US investments.

    The US economy has been weak since 2007, and 2015 is the weakest year since the last recession ended in 2009.

    Some leading indicators are now at pre-recession levels.

    • “I predict, in time, people will look back at Obama and see that he was the worst President in a century.”

      I expect Democrats and the legacy press, starting late January 2017, will start using the phrase, “Oh, that was just Obama,” as if they had nothing to do with it and therefore, no responsibility for it.

    • “Richard Greene

      August 17, 2015 at 3:52 pm

      I predict, in time, people will look back at Obama and see that he was the worst President in a century.”

      I suspect there was a time in US history when the major Parties nominated individuals who would be the Parties Best qualified person to be elected President. Lately, though, they nominate the person who has the best chance of getting elected President and ignore the qualifications (other than Constitutional ones) entirely.

      • You are very likely wrong, more’s the pity. Carter wasn’t half as bad but in the same way as Obama. And he is lionised and given Nobel prizes. I expect more of the same.

      • JohnWho: “I suspect there was a time in US history when the major Parties nominated individuals who would be the Parties Best qualified person to be elected President.”

        You are right. There was a time when the political; parties did this. It stopped IMHO, in1960 with the first televised debate between Kennedy and Nixon. That is why some people wanted to put and end to the so-called :smoke-filled back room”, because they felt that the wishes of the party delegates weren’t being listened to.

      • @MarkW
        You got there ahead of me. The RINO’s say “We are the party of Reagan!” and then proceed to maneuver into place decidedly non-Reagan candidates. Invincible ignorance at work.

    • Far too many people are taught (completely incorrectly) that capitalism is some sort of “zero-sum game” in which one person cannot gain without another person losing. If Donnie gets a bigger piece of the pie, then Hillary’s piece of the pie must perforce be smaller.

      That perception (which for many has become their reality due to what essentially amounts to brainwashing) is completely incorrect. Capitalism INCREASES THE SIZE OF THE ENTIRE PIE for everyone, thus benefiting everyone.

      Apple Computer has made BILLIONS because of the iPhone (among other things), but the iPhone has been exceptionally useful to probably close to a billion people, and other people (not associated with Apple) have made millions making highly useful apps for the iPhone and selling them, and these apps are a benefit to the people who use them (or they would not choose to use them).

      Disclaimer – I have no association with, or interest in, Apple in any way, shape, or form (in fact, I don’t personally even own an iPhone). This just happened to be one of MANY examples I could have used. Further Disclaimer: Assume proper use of trademarks and such where I should have inserted them!

    • Study finds surprisingly high geothermal heating beneath West Antarctic Ice Sheet
      UC Santa Cruz team reports first direct measurement of heat flow from deep within the Earth to the bottom of the West Antarctic ice sheet.

      The amount of heat flowing toward the base of the West Antarctic ice sheet from geothermal sources deep within the Earth is surprisingly high, according to a new study led by UC Santa Cruz researchers. The results, published July 10 in Science Advances, provide important data for researchers trying to predict the fate of the ice sheet, which has experienced rapid melting over the past decade.

    • Wagen August 17, 2015 at 3:59 pm: “explicitly abandoned previous claims… West Antarctic Ice sheet”

      Wagen left out part of what Ridley wrote: “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has explicitly abandoned previous claims…” (my emphasis)

      To refute Ridley, Wagen must find a section of the IPCC AR5 that still predicts West Antarctic ice sheet collapse by 2100. Good luck with that.

      Note also that Wagen’s reference doesn’t actually contradict Ridley or the IPCC. Wagen evidently missed this part: “The worrisome outcomes won’t be seen soon. Scientists are talking hundreds of years, but over that time the melt that has started could eventually add 4 to 12 feet (1.2 to 3.6 metres) to current sea levels.” (my emphasis)

      With his fuzzy thinking, as evidenced by this and other comments in this thread, Wagen is in fact a perfect example of the overzealous “environmentalist” Ridley criticizes…maybe a little too perfect.

      Wagen, are you actually Matt Ridley masquerading as an inept environmentalist to illustrate your arguments? :-)

      • “Wagen left out part of what Ridley wrote: “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has explicitly abandoned previous claims…” (my emphasis)”

        Guilty as charged! :)

        But recent scientific work says collapse is in progress and unstoppable. In a new IPCC report I expect it to be mentioned.

  11. “the financial, humanitarian and environmental price of decarbonizing the energy supply is proving much steeper than expected. Despite falling costs of solar panels, the system cost of solar power, including land, transmission, maintenance and nighttime backup, remains high.”

    Source please.

    • You really need a source for something so self evident…go get a quote for a solar system and see where the costs are. Even if “Moore’s law” applied to the solar panels (it doesn’t since you can’t scale down the size of the panel like you can a semiconductor) the other parts of the system (e.g. power inverter), the labor, and the real estate aren’t any cheaper.

    • Ah, wagen: a vehicle used for transporting goods. We are not buying your use of poor references or your attempts at clouding the impact of a wonderful article, but then wagens used to be used for moving the waste of horses out of cities in the old days.

    • Noxious Troll.
      Whine, whine, whine.

      Source please.

      WHAT! Do I look like your personal librarian!
      Look it up for yourself. Learn something.
      Learn how to verify facts on your own, and stop bothering us until you do.

  12. It always happens. Uneducated misguided do gooders who stand up to be seen and heard. Everything has a motive and with the exception of Sister Theresa it is usually the Ego.
    Thomas Robert Malhus
    Paul Erlich
    Rachel Carson
    The Club of Rome
    liberal Democrat congress persons – Boxer, Waxman, Markey, …
    Commander in chief propaganda Obama
    Propaganda file director looney tune Michael Moore
    Jetsetting actors – Leonardo Dicaprio, Ted Danzon, Daryl Hannah, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, George Clooney, (Carbon) Cate Blanchett
    Disgraced Raj Pachauri and his gang of IPCC

  13. “Getting fossil-fueled electricity and gas to them is the cheapest and quickest way to save their lives”

    So, building a big coal plant and getting lines to the villages is cheaper than giving the villages some solar panels and batteries?

    • Teach a man to fish. If your power plant can run a hundred villages at an extremely low cost, raising the standard of living, reduce infant mortality and increase productivity and opportunity because it can run day and night very cheaply, very efficiently and very safely and most importantly is easy to repair and maintain. While providing jobs and infrastructure for business.

      Or like every other short sighted liberal, instead you can give a man a fish, and he will have lights to read by for a few hours after dark, until people stop caring and fail to maintain it because they cannot reproduce the technology. And you will of course have more commercials and charitable organizations to profit from while “helping” them again and again and again.

      • –Still, is the power plants plus lines better/more economical than solar panels plus batteries?–

        Obviously it cost less to hand out few solar panel and batteries and declare you done something- but that’s merely PR, it’s not more economical.
        It’s Venezuela handing out toilet paper.

      • wagen says:

        Still, is the power plants plus lines better/more economical than solar panels plus batteries?

        It depends on the population density. An isolated mountain cabin may well be cheaper to power with solar panels. But wherever there are lots of people — the case throughout the underdeveloped world — a coal plant is much less expensive; it provides power at night and on cloudy days, and the available power is far greater than from solar panels.

        There’s your answer. In almost all cases coal is better and more economical than solar.

      • Wagen Its the Infrastructure that is the issue. The workers for the power plant could be trained up rather quickly, with a team of Journeyman to work with them the first few years. They would need about 5 years min.
        They could use local buses to and fro to the plant . One rail line could supply the plant if its coal. One pipe line if natural gas is local.
        Now the infrastructure for say wind power, Acres of land. Farm land. Roads. large networks of roads connecting all the turbines together. Also they are maintenance hogs. They require 90 day P.M.s to guarantee their Reliability And make no mistake due to their size very dangerous to work on if you’re not a crackerjack.
        others can add to this list. I grow weary you should have had this type of background prior to beginning the discussion
        To quote Capt James T. Kirk, “Know how things work and why things work.”

    • “So, building a big coal plant and getting lines to the villages is cheaper than giving the villages some solar panels and batteries?”

      So Wagen, please reassure me that your home is run 24/7 exclusively on solar panel power and batteries, and that all your transportation needs and those of your family are exclusively supplied by the same technologies.

      • 100% hydro. Lines have been around a long time. Transport? Public transport (good connections). Anything more?? Why are you asking?

        Any connection to the comment you were responding to?

      • LOL from 2011! There have been 2.5 sea changes in solar PV since then.

        Its roughly 5 cents USD per kWH

      • LOL from 2011! There have been 2.5 sea changes in solar PV since then.

        Its roughly 5 cents USD per kWH

        That is a complete and utter joke, and demonstrates an ignorance of solar power on a biblical scale. You can’t give an estimate on the cost of solar or wind for that matter. They are 100% totally dependent upon location. Put a solar panel in the snowy North and you won’t get any power. Put that solar panel in the desert like Google did and get roughly 50% of the predicted output due to unexpected sand dust. It turns out sand dust wasn’t included in their lab experiments that generated the estimates. Bottom line, wind and solar are a complete joke, don’t produce a reliable energy output, require coal powered back up stations, and are simply extremely costly and inefficient.

        Just ask Bill Gates…who puts his money where his mouth is.

        Obama’s Renewable-Energy Fantasy
        Bill Gates recently noted that the cost of decarbonization using today’s technology is ‘beyond astronomical.’

      • Wagen, where are your sources for contending that solar cells and batteries are cheaper than power plants and power lines?

        This isn’t even close if subsidies are removed. The only reason these panels are produced is because of subsidies. Once they are gone, so are the solar companies.

    • Wagen, you surprised me. Your comments continue to grow more stupid. Power plants and power lines are very obviously much cheaper than solar panels and batteries. Take your wagen load elsewhere. It is making a stink.

      • “Power plants and power lines are very obviously much cheaper than solar panels and batteries. ”

        In countries where the infrastructure still needs to be built? Sources please

      • Wagen. guess what, you just lost every blue collar worker who works in any heavy industry. Every pipe fitter welder, road builder, Do you understand what tribal knowledge is. Many of the people here do have experiances in the relevant construction areas and heavy industries. THEY are the sources .Ah what do you do in life? Me Wagen, I worked in heavy industry, at times making things that go bump and slaughter in the night. (day time too )

      • Wagen, where are your sources for contending that solar cells and batteries are cheaper than power plants and power lines?

      • Meh… I keep seeing Wagen demanding sources from everyone that coal or gas would be cheaper than solar or wind, but I have yet to see him provide a reliable source that wind or solar would be cheaper than coal or gas.

      • Wages: do you know where single line ground return power supply was first implemented in a large scale and why? Rural and poor Saskatchewan, Canada and the technology has spread across the world. The folks from Sask Power used to go to developing countries to transfer the technology. Or do the legend goes. But I imagine you are much too young to understand how important and innovative that was/is.

      • @Wagen:
        Well there these by Gates & Google engineering although you may not wish to recognize the expertise (your option):

        “Gates expressed his views in an interview given to the Financial Times yesterday,saying that the cost of using current renewables such as solar panels and windfarms to produce all or most power would be “beyond astronomical”.”

        “Even if one were to electrify all of transport, industry, heating and so on, so much renewable generation and balancing/storage equipment would be needed to power it that astronomical new requirements for steel, concrete, copper, glass, carbon fibre, neodymium, shipping and haulage etc etc would appear. All these things are made using mammoth amounts of energy: far from achieving massive energy savings, which most plans for a renewables future rely on implicitly, we would wind up needing far more energy, which would mean even more vast renewables farms – and even more materials and energy to make and maintain them and so on. The scale of the building would be like nothing ever attempted by the human race.”

    • wag on: I take it You haven’t spent much time or used solar panels for useful work? If you had, you would be much closer to Ridley’s position I am guessing.

    • At least the fossil fueled energy will actually work. Solar panels and batteries have finite lives. Solar cells 12 to 15 years. Batteries 5 to 7 years. The coal or gas generating plant will still be working 50 years later at less than a quarter of the cost with the added bonus that they didn’t have to cover all their farmland with solar cells.

    • Indeed, Wagen, because the coal-fired power plant will produce INEXPENSIVE, ABUNDANT, and RELIABLE electricity, which they can then use to heat or cool their homes, cook their food, etc. Solar panels and wind turbines use LOTS of RARE EARTH METALS which are highly toxic. Batteries use lithium or lead. Batteries need to be disposed of when they run out of charge. If they are rechargeable you need another POWER SOURCE to recharge them… Wind and Solar are EXPENSIVE and UNRELIABLE, so when the wind wasn’t blowing and the sun wasn’t shining, the people would need either a back-up power source, or would need to go back to burning animal dung and wood indoors (like they do now).

      The people in question are POOR. They live in so-called 3rd world countries. Does it make sense to you to force them to use something expensive and unreliable as opposed to using something inexpensive, abundant, and reliable?

      Try an experiment for yourself sometime. Go for 6 months without using ANY fossil fuels whatsoever. That means no car, no electricity (unless you can verify that the source is 100% nuclear, solar, or wind based) no riding on trains, no airplanes, no public transit (unless it is 100% fueled by bio-fuels), no plastic packaging, alarmingly few medications (most medications are synthesized from fossil fuel components at least in part), and more things than I care to list because I would bore everyone else here to death listing everything you could not do and could not have if you were forced to go without fossil fuels for 6 months.

      Go ahead, give it a try, and then come back and tell us how it works out for you. I realize we won’t get regular updates during the process, because even if you have solar, wind, or nuclear power, you won’t be able to use a computer, because many of the parts of a computer are made from…. fossil fuels.

    • Lots of replies here. Some better than others.

      Ridley argues with the fate of the poor. If they don’t get fossil fuels they will forever stay poor.

      1. Why haven’t they got it yet?
      2. Why should they use 19th century technology?
      3. Can’t they have renewables right away?
      4. If no one helped them get energy supply until now, why is it suddenly an urgent matter at that time that societies consider regulation of CO2 emissions?
      5. There are some more points, it was a long day however…

    • If you give them enough solar panels and batteries to equal the quantity and reliability of a coal plant, then yes. Coal would be a tiny fraction of the cost of solar with storage.

  14. When I grow up, I want to write like Matt Ridley … unfortunately neither project is progressing all that fast, but a man has hopes …


    • You really want to write something that reads well instead of something that holds up against scrutiny?

      • Your question sounds just like the environmentalist/and the cronies setup polls. Ex: Do you favor environmentally sound renewable energy or Co2 creating, death causing, power plants? Knowing there are really people like you actively working at confusticating any rational argument is encouraging me to read more and work against your ilke.

      • Has Wagen written anything that holds up to scrutiny yet? Maybe once he does he can comment on whether or not someone else’s writing holds up to scrutiny. Until then, not so much.

      • Good article Matt, nice to see you following along in the comments! Keep up the good work. Even though some people are seemingly too far gone to convince, there are still some out there that will see the logic in your writings and be convinced.

        Too bad high schools and colleges don’t actually teach logic and critical thinking skills anymore….

  15. The liberal environpriests will never be defeated. You cannot disprove a religion with science because they have destroyed the foundation of enlightenment and co-opted it. When you are ready to crow with righteous umbrage they have been proven wrong, they will just fudge the science to say they STOPPED the problem or made it much less and declare victory and celebrate while silencing the remaining shocked scientists of integrity to silence or the virtual gulag of career destruction . They are already doing it. Still I rage, rage against the dying of the light. But the enemy is strong and truth may be changed to what they wish it to be.

    • Mark,

      It isn’t quite as bad as all that. Truth isn’t a malleable construct, truth is truth. Sometimes it takes what seems like eons, but eventually, the truth will win out. Education (instead of the current form of mis-education) would help a lot, but that is going to take quite a bit of time and effort too!

      • I surely hope you are right. It is just they are so many, and obviously ethically compromised. It is an easy thing to remake the truth when it what enough people want to believe so badly.

      • Mark,

        I agree, a lot of parallels to George Orwell’s 1984 exist in the world today, but something in the human spirit seems to strive to recognize truth, even in such situations. It doesn’t happen for everyone, but hopefully it happens for enough to obtain a “critical mass” of people to make a difference.

  16. We have nothing to show that GMOs are safe, and quite a bit to show they are dangerous.

    Calgene, the tomatoes’ creator-in-chief (now a part of Monsanto), voluntarily conducted three 28-day rat feeding studies.

    The rats that ate one of these Flavr Savr varieties probably wished they were in a different test group. Out of 20 female rats, 7 developed stomach lesions—bleeding stomachs. The rats eating the other Flavr Savr, or the natural tomatoes, or no tomatoes at all, had no lesions.

    And the nuclear promotion, sheesh, we have such better options! Just review the video of Fukushima 3 launching its deadly payload into our atmosphere…………….

    • Stock, your post shows everything that is wrong with the anti-GMO movement. Lemon sole is delicious and nutritious. So are Flavr Savr tomatoes. You cite a blog which cites a green site which asserts a ‘ hidden’ testing problem in a footnote to FDA approval docs. No data, no references, only assertions. Not even FDA docs.
      Fukushima was a Gen 1 plant. Not designed for the earthquake and tsunami. As messy as it is, nobody has died and Japan has restarted some 2 nukes. Did you know that the OTHER Fukushima reactor complex, a gen 2 design, survived unscathed?
      Want to debate here, bring verifieable facts and logic. Real citations. Never bring a rubber knife to a gunfight, like you just did.

      • Ristvan. Thanks for pointing out the realitively small harm that has occurred in Japan due to the nuclear reactors. I have suspected that some of the scientists that are backing the global warming movement are doing it in the hopes they can get the anti nuke nuts to accept nuclear power.

      • Your ad hominem is noted. If you wished to dig in a bit, you sure could have…..the first link is FDA docs, BTW
        The director of FDA’s Office of Special Research Skills wrote that the tomatoes did not demonstrate a “reasonable certainty of no harm,” which is the normal standard of safety. The Additives Evaluation Branch agreed that “unresolved questions still remain,” and the staff pathologist stated, “In the absence of adequate explanations by Calgene, the issues raised by the Pathology Branch … remain and leave doubts as to the validity of any scientific conclusion(s) which may be drawn from the studies’ findings.”

      • I stand corrected BFL. I could not tell based on your comment which I now see was directed to skepticism necessitating a further analysis. Part of that lies, in my view, to regulatory capture of agencies, including may that we trust.

        As you observe, individual responses to medicine is highly variable and unpredictable in many cases. I hope your efforts to seek relief are successful. On a related note, I am optimistic about genomic approaches to provide clues why people respond so differently to treatments.

      • SparkyZ
        August 18, 2015 at 7:41 pm
        “Part of that lies, in my view, to regulatory capture of agencies, including may that we trust.”
        I disagree as I see evidence that these organizations are actually “captured” by industry especially big pharma. I provide some examples as follows:
        A. The case of the NIH vitamin C testing for some cancers as requested by Pauling in which he said only injectable C would suffice since the body so rapidly eliminates oral C. NIH refused to test injectable and would only test oral with negative results.
        B. The case of the Texas doctor who treated terminal brain tumor patients with common low toxicity enzymes and even after most had previous extremely toxic medical treatments, he still had a 25-50% success rate. Even so the FDA ruthlessly pursued him in court until, at trial, he won by parading a long line of patients who should have been long deceased. The FDA director even commented in a briefing that the FDA would never approve an individually developed cancer treatment but would only allow companies with deep pockets to seek approval. Even so, the FDA was finely pushed to the point of required testing for the doctors treatment. I wonder, given their history, what are the odds of success at their end??
        C. The Army treated a wounded soldier with ~90% of his left upper thigh muscle missing from an IED using porcine bladder extract as regenerative tissue (not a new idea just suppressed). The surgery was done without FDA/NIH approval. There was close to 90% regeneration of muscle, cartilage, capillaries, etc. and the soldier is like new.
        D. The Army requests testing of a bovine blood extract they learned about (and which was successful in animals) for emergency human blood loss replacement for injured soldiers. They were refused, twice. The FDA is instead pursuing their own avenues in this area.
        E. A non-patentable easily manufactured compound, PBN, has shown much promise in many animal tests for treatment of heart attacks, stroke and even dementia. Given FDA/NIH history, it will go nowhere,
        All of these treatments would be outside pharma and except for A. would be relatively inexpensive and obviously make no money for them. Even A. would be reasonable if covered by insurance which however requires approval by FDA. If I can find these few (and others) there must be many more buried in their files. Another disgrace by these orgs is routine approval of cancer treatments that add as little as 3 months (average) to lifespan, always at enormous treatment cost and usually with high discomfort levels. I find little evidence that they have any real interest in protecting or working for what should be their charge, the public.

      • BFL, I think you misunderstand my point. Regulatory capture is thought to occur in all agencies where the most affected parties have an incentive to remain involved, work within the system and eventually influence the system. For FDA, it is big pharma, small pharma, biotech, doctors, and nearly everyone else that is directly affected by the regulations. Some are better than others, through money, through heartstrings, through corruption. Individual patients are not well represented. There are few ways, if any to avoid the phenomena. My solution is to limit the power of the agencies themselves, but not all share this view.

        As for your putative examples. I am not familiar with many of them nor inclined to research them. I am a big fan of Pauling but he was wrong on many things, from DNA structure to vitamin C. If your other examples are correct, I see them as support for my view that the power of the FDA should be limited. The alternative is to allow the market to work which includes, and requires, allowing people to take risks and for tort liability (once reformed the current system is corrupt). I am not holding my breath for that to happen.

    • Cheaters don’t actually win you know. When you lie, even for what you think is a good cause, because you believe the end will justify the means, you do evil. You deny yourself the pride of earning the accomplishment, because you cheated. And you know it. The defeated do not lose when you cheat, they are surely humbled, but still can stand tall at the end of the day knowing they fought with honesty and integrity. And.. although it happens quite often too late.. the truth will come out.
      Admit it. You have no idea what the actual dangers of GMO products are. You have no idea how it’s accomplished or what safety measures are taken. You only know enough to scare people.

      From :
      Calgene tested two separate Flavr Savr tomato lines. Both had the same gene inserted into the same type of tomato. The process of insertion and the subsequent cloning of the cells into GM plants can cause lots of unique and unpredicted consequences. The two lines, therefore, were not considered identical.

      The rats that ate one of these Flavr Savr varieties probably wished they were in a different test group. Out of 20 female rats, 7 developed stomach lesions—bleeding stomachs. The rats eating the other Flavr Savr, or the natural tomatoes, or no tomatoes at all, had no lesions.

      If we humans had such effects in our stomachs, according to Dr. Arpad Pusztai, a top GMO safety and animal feeding expert, it “could lead to life-endangering hemorrhage, particularly in the elderly who use aspirin to prevent thrombosis.”

      So one variety of GMO tomatoes caused increased lesions, while another version WITH THE SAME GENETIC MODIFICATION but using a different insertion process was harmless as natural unmodified tomatoes.

      CLUE: When you lie you subvert the process and you should be ashamed. If you not only don’t know what you are talking about, but are too lazy to even Google it, you should do us a favor and disengage the mouth and open your ears. Huffington post to the rescue for crying out loud. I didn’t see that coming.

      • Nice Sparky. Did you notice the most rats were given lesions from straight Deionised water? Dude, seriously weird results and Iam not smart enough to really say what they signify, other than the experiment setup is horrible. Your Control Rats have a higher incidence of the indicator problem than your tested conditions. In my industry, that means the whole test is bunk. but maybe Iam reading it wrong. Not really my field of expertise.

        Regardless, it looks to me like the GMO fears are unfounded in entirety as Iwas trying to say before(not so clear from rereading though).

      • The FDA (EPA, NIH, AMA, ADA etc. etc,) make this easy because of their many false calls and the tendency to protect corporate and their clientele (in the case of the AMA/ADA). What with their many reversals and mistakes, I, personally take what whatever they say NOT at face value.

      • I did Mr. Gilbert. Your focus on the water controls is spot on. One does not need a Ph.D. in molecular and cell biology (which I have) or need to perform a Students t-test (a statistical test to tell if things are significantly different) that there is no “there” there. Something went amiss in the third test, likely something to do with the group of rats or the conditions they were all held in. I had plenty of colleagues that did rat studies and often characterized them as “low responders” and “high responders”. There is a lot of variation in the rat populations used in studies, different lines, ages, care, housing, and on and on. Even further, rats are very different than us. Just look up that failure of the studies of thalidomide to confirm that. At the end of the day, literally billions of GMO meals (more than McDonalds in Sleeper even) have been eaten by people without any documented bad effects. Meanwhile millions go blind in Africa because of opposition to golden rice and other immensely beneficial GMO foods.

        As for BFL, would I be correct in assuming you believe whatever source conforms with your belief?

      • “As for BFL, would I be correct in assuming you believe whatever source conforms with your belief?”
        Nope, depends on how much I think it might affect me, then I do research, which of course can be slanted any direction (worse than climastrology) and attempt to reach a logical conclusion as to what to do. Example: two doctors find a thin lower vertebral disc that had been causing nerve pinch and right leg freeze when I walked but cleared upon rest, then that leg would seize up again in 50 feet or so. Both doctors recommended disc removal and vertebral fusion or disc replacement (major surgery with potential future complications). Do much research, try some recommended exercises which mostly don’t work and then try an inversion table. Started at about 30 deg. tilt for 20 minutes twice a day, uncomfortable at first, but in a week the problem was completely resolved. That was some 15 years ago, now I do it twice a week or so just to keep morning joint stiffness at bay (I’m not exactly young). Have resolved numerous other issues in a similar manner that went against doctor recommendations. Of course if it’s something like an infection, I scurry to the doc for the antibiotics.
        If it’s food, I usually don’t pay much attention, as trying to avoid all the sometimes hysterical recommendations is just too tedious and probably not that effective anyway. However, I do take some supplements as recommended by the likes of Linus Pauling and Ray Kurzweil. Useless? maybe, but anecdotally I can sure tell the difference.

    • Ah, Stock, as other have already shown you failed. Maybe you’ll get fired. Another one of the blind firing off words from his mouth and quoting what to him is gospel. To bad he can’t see the truth.

    • So there you are, screaming to the wind ” Those Model-T cars (nuclear power plants) are clearly not safe and everyone knows that it is impossible to make a vehicle safer than the Model-T (Fukushima plant). We should just give up and go back to horses.

      What do you think would have happened if strong research into nuclear power continued from 1970-2010? What would 40 years of progress hold for us now? Instead, the loud and the stupid stopped our programs. Here we are, thank you for your contribution.

      • we would have a small reactor in every town, and electricity would be virtually free. (no I am not being sarcastic)

      • After 70 years of lies from the nuclear industry, why should we listen to anything they have to say? Trust us, this next version will be safe, LOL

      • How many people have died from the radiation releases from Fukushima? IIRC, there was one death from an industrial accident after the quake and tsunami. Compare this to the original death toll from the tsunami.

        The safety of the first generation nuclear plants can certainly be improved upon, but their safety record record is better than most renewable energy sources.

    • Stock,

      My Organic Chemistry Professor in College personally knew the person who conducted the studies that “proved” that saccharin was cancer-causing. The study was (of course) done using mice and rats. My professor asked him point blank, “What would the equivalent human dosage be to cause cancer as you showed in the rats and mice?”.

      The answer was, “A human being would have to eat approximately one 35-gallon Hefty trash bag full of saccharin on a daily basis to induce cancer the way I did in the rats and mice!”

      Nobody cared about that, of course… saccharin suddenly disappeared from diet soft drinks, store shelves, and virtually every other product that it was found in. Now, 30 years or so later, you can once again buy it in the store in small packets, but it will never again be used on a large scale like it once was.

      Since then, other “artificial sweeteners” have been discovered or synthesized, some better and some worse, but the main point is, the market for saccharin was absolutely destroyed when perhaps, that wasn’t quite necessary. I don’t personally know any people that consumed it by the trashbagfull….

      • Ya, but over what time frame? Humans have decades to build up cancers and other diseases. Look at the sad state of our health, we are killing ourselves. Caution at every item to be eaten or drank is definitely not getting carried away. stock out

      • stock,

        “We are killing ourselves”… really? Then why has human life expectancy INCREASED from less than 40 years to now nearly 80 years in all “industrialized” countries since the early 1800s???? If we were truly killing ourselves, life expectancy would decline, not double in the past 200 years.

        The EPA and FDA frequently use the standard that a 1:1,000,000 increase in cancer risk is unacceptable; however, your cancer risk just by BEING BORN in something like 1:5. So, what we are talking about here is that an increase in your cancer risk from 20% to 20.00001% is supposed to be deemed unacceptable.

        I realize that what the EPA and FDA are really trying to say is that if there are 350,000,000 people in the United States, then X concentration of substance Y in the air, water, or food will cause 350 additional cases of cancer in the US per year. The problem is, this CANNOT be proved at such a low level!

        The other thing seemingly EVERYONE fails to grasp is that life has a 100% mortality rate. Being born is a guaranteed death sentence. Certainly no one wants to die “prematurely” (whatever that means), but I would personally prefer a bit more risk tolerance and a bit less hyperactive regulation. Like I tell my doctor, “I would rather eat steak and die at 80 than eat rabbit food and die at 82. To me, eating steak whenever I want is worth a reduction of 2 years in my lifespan, and you cannot guarantee that I won’t live to be 100 regardless of what I eat!”

    • More junk science from Stock.

      According to the FDA in 2014:


      We believe that this information supports a conclusion that FLAVR SAVR™ tomatoes have not been significantly altered within the meaning of 21 CFR 170.30(f)(2), when compared to varieties of tomatoes with a history of safe use. In other words, the FLAVR SAVR™ tomato is as safe as other commonly consumed tomatoes.

      We believe that the correct common or usual name for the FLAVR SAVR™ tomato is “tomato”, because the FLAVR SAVR™ tomato is not significantly different from the range of commercial varieties referred to by that name.

      We also have determined that there is no safety or usage concern to which consumers of FLAVR SAVR™ tomatoes must be alerted by special labeling.

      We believe that the safety assessment conducted by Calgene is consistent with the applicable provisions of the act, as reflected in FDA’s guidance to industry, set out in the 1992 policy statement, on scientific considerations for evaluating foods derived from new plant varieties.

  17. Excellent summary, Matt. How do we get even our non-socialist politicians to start talking about it? They are all following the leftist playbook.

  18. The only thing missing here is calling environmentalism what it is: a religion.

    To quote an excerpt by the late Michael Crichton from his 2003 speech to the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco:

    “Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists. Why do I say it’s a religion? Well, just look at the beliefs. If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.

    There’s an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there’s a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe.

    Eden, the fall of man, the loss of grace, the coming doomsday—these are deeply held mythic structures. They are profoundly conservative beliefs. They may even be hard-wired in the brain, for all I know. I certainly don’t want to talk anybody out of them, as I don’t want to talk anybody out of a belief that Jesus Christ is the son of God who rose from the dead. But the reason I don’t want to talk anybody out of these beliefs is that I know that I can’t talk anybody out of them. These are not facts that can be argued. These are issues of faith.

    And so it is, sadly, with environmentalism. Increasingly it seems facts aren’t necessary, because the tenets of environmentalism are all about belief. It’s about whether you are going to be a sinner, or saved. Whether you are going to be one of the people on the side of salvation, or on the side of doom. Whether you are going to be one of us, or one of them.”

    • Why not call it what it really is – Phony environmentalism, like Phony climate change, like Phony socialism? Taxes on the stupid to pay useless people to get votes so they can get paid to tax stupid people so they can get more votes, so they can tax stupid people to pay to get more votes ….

      …. and then they die. What sorry lives.

    • One of my favorite lines from a song: “You cannot go against nature, because when you do go against nature that’s a part of nature too!” (Love & Rockets, No New Tale to Tell [Earth, Sun, Moon]). Environmentalists would have us believe that a Beaver Dam is perfectly right and natural; whereas the Hoover Dam is an abomination against Nature.

      I feel sorry for people who are that confused.

  19. Well, Chuck, while I’m not an “environmentalist”, I do believe we should be better stewards of what is currently our only planet, although we may get an opportunity to mess up another planet (Mars) soon.

    Most of my “protect the environment” policy is along the lines of:

    “If you don’t want to eat where you poop, don’t poop everywhere.”

    Seems reasonable to me.

    • “mess up another planet (Mars) soon”

      OMG really? So a planet that cannot sustain life currently must be left in its “pristine” natural lifeless, deadly state? Pull the other one. just goes to show the thinking process behind this crap.

    • Defecation is a perfectly natural process shared by all animal life-forms, though I do agree that poop and food do not mix well (actually i do NOT know that from personal experience, but it seems like a perfectly reasonable assumption).

      Being good stewards of the planet is reasonable. Christians believe that God put the animals and the abundant resources on/in this planet so that they could be used by humans. That is basically what Genesis says…

      However, I agree that these things should be used RESPONSIBLY.

  20. All these things are indeed a matter of life and death for millions of people. You have several subjects here, each of which is the subject of many books. Neither you nor I can do any of them justice. Consider:

    1. Prior to the Warmist howling, the phrase “climate optimum” referred to a warm period. Of course, the alarmism then was about a coming ice age, so maybe we can’t count on that as objective, either. But photosynthesis is elementary science. CO2 is the basis of life. The warmists are NOT EXAGGERATING the dangers. They are calling black white and up down. Furthermore, a strong economy is closely associated with environmental improvements. So in advocating a crashed fossil fuel crashed economy, we are not going to get any improvement. It is all bad and very bad indeed. They will never learn now wrong they are. If you want to save human, plant, animal and bacterial life, then look into regenerative agriculture. You will like it. The greenies love it.

    2. The acid rain and ozone scares proved nonsense, as near as I can tell. You are not considering the farm worker sickness and death from pesticides, however. I can no longer enjoy doughnuts, bread, or anything else made from wheat. This is gluten sensitivity, now skyrocketing in this country. This seems to be due to the pesticide Roundup applied to increasing numbers of crops. It is used on a lot of grains to kill them before the harvest, resulting in a uniform crop and higher yield. Roundup seems to cause leaky gut, which then causes food sensitivity to whatever you are eating.

    3. I have been concerned about GMOs since 1976, when one of my colleagues in grad school got into the very beginnings of it. “Playing God” just sounds crazy to mindless religious types, but if there is no God, then we got here by evolution, which involves trial-and-error and keeping whatever survived. The numbers involved, such as Avogadro’s number and the weight of the sea, and the number of nanoseconds in a billion years, are beyond human comprehension. Still, there is certainly some hope that deliberate creation may produce awesome benefits. But the difference between the fluffy assurances read by the author of this article versus the little bit of actual research are staggering. Just as this site has repeatedly sneered at Nature and Scientific American and many other rags that were once at the top of the field, so it is possible to read summaries of GMO research in very highly respected journals that make it sound like these things have undergone a million times more scrutiny than is the case–with no real problems except from bad design. The truth is that only a handful of studies have ever been done that were up to normal publication standards, and those found numerous and very serious problems after as little as 10 days of feeding. These could be pooh-poohed with horrifying ease. For example, cancer-prone rats are normal strains to use in toxicology research. When the study found a couple dozen abnormalities in brain and kidney and liver, etc. and by the way more cancers–the whole thing was described as “flawed design, such as using cancer-prone rats.” That is hardly proof of safety. The first human consumption item was a sleep supplement called L-tryptophan associated with 80 deaths and the most agonizing disease doctors (!) had ever seen. Turned out to be one company that purified its supplement from genetically engineered bacteria. Strain 1 was wild-type, while strains 2-5 were successively engineered. Strain 5 killed 80 people and 1000s of disability. Ah, but strain 4 killed 2 people, too and higher purification meant fewer problems. To those overweening egos who wanted “the US to be the world leader in biotechnology,” that proved it was just a purification problem, not genetic engineering at all.

    As to cancer–who would ever notice 80 or even thousands of added deaths? I say the cancer rate would have to triple at a minimum for people to figure out what was going on, especially if GMOs remain unlabeled.

    The biggest difference in claims is in nuclear– a million-fold difference and I am tired now, so you will have to wait on that one.

    • Indeed, or on a “has not been proven” that it is not safe
      Seems quite a bit different than, has been proven to be safe.

      • What has ever really been “proven to be safe”?

        You are ignoring cost/benefit analysis. The downside is composed of assertions, with no real evidence that GMOs are harmful for human consumption.

        But the upside is huge. Humans have always genetically engineered plants. You think corncobs were always 8 inches long? GMO crops are the same result, only we have learned how to greatly speed up the process.

        By opposing these crops you are effectively consigning the world’s poor to more poverty. To me, that is the central evil in the green/eco movement. Enviros do not care that their narrative causes starvation and misery. They are the world’s top hypocrites in that regard.

        Don’t be those guys. Any group that insists that carbon dioxide — a tiny trace gas as essential to life as H2O — is a “pollutant”, is deliberately cauing misery for their own self-serving reasons. How are they any different from Judas and his 30 pieces of silver?

      • Dihydrogen Monoxide is one of the most lethal substances to man when used improperly, yet nearly everyone is perfectly convinced that it is completely safe when used properly.

      • @dbstealey, I am 100% a non CO2 “its a big problem” type of guy, I am a coolista. But also a bit worried about the oceans becoming less basic than they were.

        We put GMOs in our bodies. Now 20% of our countries GDP goes to health care. It does seem rational to question why we have had a massive increase in health problems. Serious scientists, including those at FDA, have serious negative issues with GMO’s, just waving the hands and saying progress is necessary, its all good— is a foolhardy trust in science.

        And that was before you played the “poor card” AND the “Judas 30 silver” card

      • stock says:

        It does seem rational to question why we have had a massive increase in health problems.

        Then explain why people are living much longer, healthier lives than ever before.

        Fact, is, the gov’t has been shoveling money into the health sector for years. Doctors and scientists are recipients of that taxpayer loot — and you can be sure that they are being paid to find problems wherever they can, whether they are real problems or a hangnail caused by ‘climate change’.

        It’s like education. The gov’t funnels ever more money into student loans. That easy money makes it possible for universities to raise tuition costs — which then requires more student loan money.

        It’s a racket.

      • We are living longer, but not healthier…..20% of GDP to healthcare, that is beyond absurd, if it was 5% I would be saying far too much. There is disease everywhere you look.

        How many people do you know who have cancer?

      • There’s no evidence that GMOs are not safe. There’s no correlation with human pathology or disease.

      • Stock,

        The main reason 20% of the population will eventually, at some point in their lifetimes, get some form of cancer is simply BECAUSE WE ARE NOW LIVING SO MUCH LONGER! When people had a life expectancy of 35 or 40 years, their bodies didn’t have time to develop cancer – they died of something else first. Now that people are living to 80 (and in many cases well beyond), age and cellular breakdown cause a lot of the population to get some form of cancer or other. Certainly, environmental factors can be involved in carcenogenisis, but overall, I prefer people living to 80 and having a higher cancer risk compared to people only living to 35 or 40, which is what life expectancy was 200 years ago.

  21. “President Obama’s plan to cut U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions from electricity plants by 32% (from 2005 levels) by 2030 would cut global emissions by about 2%.”

    This should read:

    “President Obama’s plan to cut U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions from electricity plants by 32% (from 2005 levels) by 2030 would cut global ANTHROPOGENIC emissions by about 2%.” TOTAL Global CO2 emissions (Natural+Anthropogenic) will only be reduced by ~0.125% by his plan.

  22. What does a community organizer know about climate? He also doesn’t know much about most aspects of his job, but he has only 6 years training for the most important role on earth. Mistakes should not be unexpected. He is well on his way toward replacing Jimmy “The Peanut” Carter as the most ignorant politician ever to have shat between two feet. I’d say I’m concerned about that but don’t want to appear to be a concern troll and draw the wrath of the Courtney clown.

  23. “environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.”
    Yep, there’s even a version of Original Sin, man is by nature evil. Every out-breath adds more CO2 to the atmosphere helping destroy the planet. So if you want to be virtuous stop breathing out. If you refuse to do that, then feel guilty and fund Greenpeace to assuage your guilt (The Vatican does the same psychological manipulation with sex – find something people can’t NOT do and make them feel guilty and give you money/power.).
    What message are we teaching children – that breathing is sinful and we’re evil?
    Of course no one explicitly says that, it’s too stupid, but it’s an inevitable logical consequence of those beliefs.

  24. On a very mundane note – this religion of reducing CO2 is making electricity, here in the UK, VERY expensive which is changing the population’s habits. A minority now cook with raw produce to make a meal but now buy ready-made meals to heat, just to save energy. This is not as nutritious nor as tasty. Our energy bills are going through the roof !

  25. Another fine piece from Lord Ridley which completely exposes environmentalists for the accuracy-free hysterical buffoons they are. In the interests of balance it may be an idea to list the major predictions of environmentalist doom that actually DID come true, but I suspect it would be a very short list.

  26. Fracking is not new. It was patented by a retired Civil War officer in 1865 as a way to improve water flow from wells. Then, they used gunpowder to blast and fracture the formation. When oil and gas was discovered, they developed “torpedos” which were nitro-glycerine bombs to do the same thing. These were used until the late 1960s – by then, over a century of use and the practice was used worldwide. In 1947, a new method, hydraulic fracturing, which can be used with considerably more precision than torpedoing, which had killed a number of workers over the years. This was in a conventional but low yielding gas field near Hugoton, Kansas. The new practice grew, nearly all with conventional O and G at first until success with hydrocarbon bearing shales began to be successful in the 1980s and 90s.

    That’s when environmentalists and the public became aware of this 150yr old evolving technique. Anti-fossil fuel nuts saw this as the undoing of all their ‘good’ work. They had virtuously been using peak oil as a strong case for renewables – then the sheeps clothing came off. Technology and humankind’s ingenuity, the number one principal component, is never taken into consideration by linear-thinking Malthusians. They have raised a big fuss about the dangers of dirty fracking water and have coerced restrictive regulations. But guess what? Researchers using liquid nitrogen as a fracking fluid have been successful and it is now offered for sale for the purpose! This is an example why those who would put us in an economic straight jacket will always be miles behind.

  27. Speaking from personal experience – while driving on a highway, in the old days before air conditioning in vehicles became a standard, I rolled down my window on a misty morning. I could taste the acid in the air. Literally. When I first came to this city. The air over one of our highways was blue from exhaust. So I can say that cleaning up REAL pollution does have an effect on air quality. The thing is that Carbon Dioxide is NOT a pollutant and anybody who says so should go back to chemistry class (before they rewrite all of the books.)

  28. In England when the train was introduced there were warnings that if you traveled faster than a horse could run (since that is “natural”) then it would kill you. Some people were against electricity 100 yrs ago. Of course automobiles were “unnatural” and were opposed. Probably there was a cave man (the original hipster) who did not want to adopt clothing.

  29. The acid rain ‘scare’ led to the clean-up of many SO2 emitting sources to the extent that farmers in the UK now have to apply additional sulphur in their fertlisers especially for brassicas, wheat and multi-cut grass.

  30. Stop confusing them with facts! We know much of the green screed is based upon emotion, believing reality should be based upon what they feel rather than what is. It doesn’t matter one iota to them that they’re wrong as long as they feel good about it.

  31. Well, until we make green activists criminally and civilly liable for the damage from their false statements the games will continue.

  32. Modern nuclear, as evidenced by real numbers from Vogtle 3 and 4 in Georgia show a kWH cost around 15 cents. This is the generation cost, neglecting cost of transmission, overhead and profit, insurance, long term storage, and risk of accident.

    The people of Georgia have already been fleeced for $1B in fees, but their best choice is to just stop the plant, because it is going to double or triple the rate they pay.

  33. Wagen on August 17, 2015 at 4:50 pm
    100% hydro. Lines have been around a long time. Transport? Public transport (good connections). were responding to?

    Ahhhh. A Lotusland Vancouverite. Suzukiville. (With apologies to all my west coast friends.)

  34. Good sense risk prioritization, thy name is Matt Ridley. Would that the green blob could actually listen and understand you.

  35. I distinctly remember the lobbyist claim that changing Freon coolant gases in cooling equipment would only cost pennies from the policy change. That was before reality agents in the form of HVAC service companies explained how much more expensive the equipment to handle the new coolant was and how industry was slowly adapting with phases of model changes and higher prices. And that maintenance contracts on the new equipment are now much more necessary today for the higher failure rate of the coils. That was no mere sales job, it was explained in detail. Regardless of the merits of policy campaigns and reforms, fewer lies would help all around.

  36. We got a bit off topic with the trolls but an out of print book, NONE DARE CALL IT A CONSPIRACY made the point that often the ‘unintended consequence’ was actually the intended result. The Greens really want expensive energy and people to be dead or poor and ignorant, thus easy to control. They make no secret of their desire to eliminate the human virus from the earth. Obama has praised China vs the USA and enacts policies that favor China. He was the real Manchurian Candidate. Had the MSM done their job and voters bothered to think we would have avoided this mess. Now the favored candidate has failed at every job she has held.

  37. Clearly the biases of the author are distorting his objectivity vis-a-vis the very real concerns surrounding GMOs and herbicides. Such aspersions directed upon those who proffer reasonable criticisms of scientific and political debate only undermine the credible lines of debate established by this and other climate change focused platforms.

    Get your head out of the $$$ clouds and try again.

    • Every time I have looked for information about the ‘dangers’ of GMO’s, I find an endless cycle of hype websites and articles all citing each other. If I dig enough, I end up with ONE study, thoroughly debunked, that did their testing on ‘used’ lab rats.

      Do you have any hard evidence you can show me? Somthing that isn’t part of that mess?

      • From my (albeit modest) investigations, “thoroughly debunked” does not accurately represent the Séralini study. I shouldn’t yield to disparaging comments myself, however I get tired of money being the arbiter of fact.

        Certainly the state-of-the-art is progressing – I was in favour of GMOs until I learned what the process was. The technology isn’t there yet. There are hazards, whether we’re honest about them or not.

      • Nothing in your reply addresses anything I said.

        Can you point to ANY other hard evidence? Even assuming that one study was completely good, one study proves nothing. So, what else do you have? ANYTHING other than accusations and innuendo? ANY PROOF that there are dangers?

        Prove it, with real, measurable evidence – you’ve got a convert. I’ve been asking people this question for quite some time and still haven’t see any proof.

      • “Nothing in your reply addresses anything I said.”

        I addressed the study you blithely say means nothing.

        “ANYTHING other than accusations and innuendo?”

        As is true of any honest discussion here, I too rely on expert investigation and interpretation. I have not made accusations, other than directing scepticism toward certain dubious assertions on the part the author, for instance concerning GMOs.

        “ANY PROOF that there are dangers?”

        The burden of proof clearly and unambiguously lies upon the persons making claims of safety, not the other way around. There is an immense body of anecdotal evidence, as you point out, but how about the following:

        This ends my posting here because I will not allow this to discussion to be skewed into a defense of my person – make up your own mind.

    • GMOs and herbicides (and pesticides) increase crop yields, and in the VAST majority of cases increase the nutritional value of the crop. Those benefits FAR outweigh the extremely slight and highly over-exaggerated risks associated with them. Without such things, it would be impossible to feed the number of people that now inhabit the planet.

  38. Reblogged this on The Arts Mechanical and commented:
    It’s old crying wolf problem. If you do it too often you lose you credibility and nobody listens anymore. The ‘experts’ have been saying that doom is coming as long as I’ve been alive and yet somehow thing seem to not change very much. So where is their credibility and why does anybody still believe them?

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