The best Christmas present to humanity, ever: We’ve Just Had The Best Decade In Human History

by Matt Ridley

Let nobody tell you that the second decade of the 21st century has been a bad time. We are living through the greatest improvement in human living standards in history. Extreme poverty has fallen below 10 per cent of the world’s population for the first time. It was 60 per cent when I was born. Global inequality has been plunging as Africa and Asia experience faster economic growth than Europe and North America; child mortality has fallen to record low levels; famine virtually went extinct; malaria, polio and heart disease are all in decline.

Little of this made the news, because good news is no news. But I’ve been watching it all closely. Ever since I wrote The Rational Optimist in 2010, I’ve been faced with ‘what about…’ questions: what about the great recession, the euro crisis, Syria, Ukraine, Donald Trump? How can I possibly say that things are getting better, given all that? The answer is: because bad things happen while the world still gets better. Yet get better it does, and it has done so over the course of this decade at a rate that has astonished even starry-eyed me.

Perhaps one of the least fashionable predictions I made nine years ago was that ‘the ecological footprint of human activity is probably shrinking’ and ‘we are getting more sustainable, not less, in the way we use the planet’. That is to say: our population and economy would grow, but we’d learn how to reduce what we take from the planet. And so it has proved. An MIT scientist, Andrew McAfee, recently documented this in a book called More from Less, showing how some nations are beginning to use less stuff: less metal, less water, less land. Not just in proportion to productivity: less stuff overall.

This does not quite fit with what the Extinction Rebellion lot are telling us. But the next time you hear Sir David Attenborough say: ‘Anyone who thinks that you can have infinite growth on a planet with finite resources is either a madman or an economist’, ask him this: ‘But what if economic growth means using less stuff, not more?’ For example, a normal drink can today contains 13 grams of aluminium, much of it recycled. In 1959, it contained 85 grams. Substituting the former for the latter is a contribution to economic growth, but it reduces the resources consumed per drink.

As for Britain, our consumption of ‘stuff’ probably peaked around the turn of the century — an achievement that has gone almost entirely unnoticed. But the evidence is there. In 2011 Chris Goodall, an investor in electric vehicles, published research showing that the UK was now using not just relatively less ‘stuff’ every year, but absolutely less. Events have since vindicated his thesis. The quantity of all resources consumed per person in Britain (domestic extraction of biomass, metals, minerals and fossil fuels, plus imports minus exports) fell by a third between 2000 and 2017, from 12.5 tonnes to 8.5 tonnes. That’s a faster decline than the increase in the number of people, so it means fewer resources consumed overall.

If this doesn’t seem to make sense, then think about your own home. Mobile phones have the computing power of room-sized computers of the 1970s. I use mine instead of a camera, radio, torch, compass, map, calendar, watch, CD player, newspaper and pack of cards. LED light bulbs consume about a quarter as much electricity as incandescent bulbs for the same light. Modern buildings generally contain less steel and more of it is recycled. Offices are not yet paperless, but they use much less paper.

Even in cases when the use of stuff is not falling, it is rising more slowly than expected. For instance, experts in the 1970s forecast how much water the world would consume in the year 2000. In fact, the total usage that year was half as much as predicted. Not because there were fewer humans, but because human inventiveness allowed more efficient irrigation for agriculture, the biggest user of water.

Until recently, most economists assumed that these improvements were almost always in vain, because of rebound effects: if you cut the cost of something, people would just use more of it. Make lights less energy-hungry and people leave them on for longer. This is known as the Jevons paradox, after the 19th-century economist William Stanley Jevons, who first described it. But Andrew McAfee argues that the Jevons paradox doesn’t hold up. Suppose you switch from incandescent to LED bulbs in your house and save about three-quarters of your electricity bill for lighting. You might leave more lights on for longer, but surely not four times as long.

Efficiencies in agriculture mean the world is now approaching ‘peak farmland’ — despite the growing number of people and their demand for more and better food, the productivity of agriculture is rising so fast that human needs can be supplied by a shrinking amount of land. In 2012, Jesse Ausubel of Rockefeller University and his colleagues argued that, thanks to modern technology, we use 65 per cent less land to produce a given quantity of food compared with 50 years ago. By 2050, it’s estimated that an area the size of India will have been released from the plough and the cow.

Land-sparing is the reason that forests are expanding, especially in rich countries. In 2006 Ausubel worked out that no reasonably wealthy country had a falling stock of forest, in terms of both tree density and acreage. Large animals are returning in abundance in rich countries; populations of wolves, deer, beavers, lynx, seals, sea eagles and bald eagles are all increasing; and now even tiger numbers are slowly climbing.

Perhaps the most surprising statistic is that Britain is using steadily less energy. John Constable of the Global Warming Policy Forum points out that although the UK’s economy has almost trebled in size since 1970, and our population is up by 20 per cent, total primary inland energy consumption has actually fallen by almost 10 per cent. Much of that decline has happened in recent years. This is not necessarily good news, Constable argues: although the improving energy efficiency of light bulbs, aeroplanes and cars is part of the story, it also means we are importing more embedded energy in products, having driven much of our steel, aluminium and chemical industries abroad with some of the highest energy prices for industry in the world.

In fact, all this energy-saving might cause problems. Innovation requires experiments (most of which fail). Experiments require energy. So cheap energy is crucial — as shown by the industrial revolution. Thus, energy may be the one resource that a prospering population should be using more of. Fortunately, it is now possible that nuclear fusion will one day deliver energy in minimalist form, using very little fuel and land.

Since its inception, the environmental movement has been obsessed by finite resources. The two books that kicked off the green industry in the early 1970s, The Limits to Growth in America and Blueprint for Survival in Britain, both lamented the imminent exhaustion of metals, minerals and fuels. The Limits to Growth predicted that if growth continued, the world would run out of gold, mercury, silver, tin, zinc, copper and lead well before 2000. School textbooks soon echoed these claims.

This caused the economist Julian Simon to challenge the ecologist Paul Ehrlich to a bet that a basket of five metals (chosen by Ehrlich) would cost less in 1990 than in 1980. The Stone Age did not end for lack of stone, Simon said, arguing that we would find substitutes if metals grew scarce. Simon won the bet easily, although Ehrlich wrote the cheque with reluctance, sniping that ‘the one thing we’ll never run out of is imbeciles’. To this day none of those metals has significantly risen in price or fallen in volume of reserves, let alone run out. (One of my treasured possessions is the Julian Simon award I won in 2012, made from the five metals.)

A modern irony is that many green policies advocated now would actually reverse the trend towards using less stuff.

Full story here

Originally published 12/19/19 by Matt Ridley, in The Spectator

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Eugene Lynx
December 25, 2019 2:25 am

Brilliant! Even though I am aware of most of this stuff and dubious of the “Not-Free” countries %, I still like to be reminded. I especially like to be reminded of how good humans are at “MoreWithLessing”.

Reply to  Eugene Lynx
December 25, 2019 4:23 am

Yes, the spirit of reminding us of the real progress is good, though the claims and figures probably don’t bear much scrutiny.

28% of all wealth ?

Just remind yourself that nowadays “wealth is debt” and that debt is indentured slavery and it does not sound quite so optimistic.

Most of the metrics of “wealth” point to the electronic wealth of the banks, which in reality own the homes folks delude themselves that they own.

banks create “wealth” out of thin air every time they issue credit, sucking hypothetical future wealth into the present accounting year.

That kind of wealth can evaporate over night, as we saw in 2008.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Greg
December 25, 2019 5:37 am

Banks loan out depositors money. That isn’t creating wealth out of thin air. When a debtor refuses to repay his loan that is destruction of wealth. The Great Recession was caused by debtors refusing to repay their loans resulting in the destruction of a huge amount of wealth. The wealth that was destroyed has been recouped *plus* more during the last decade.

Reply to  Tim Gorman
December 25, 2019 7:03 am

”Banks loan out depositors money”

They ditched that model centuries ago, check out the concept of fractional reserve banking. 🙂

Reply to  Fanakapan
December 25, 2019 9:44 am

Different words, same thing.
Fractional reserve banking is the “financial” term for lending out depositors money.

Reply to  Fanakapan
December 25, 2019 2:29 pm

Different words, same thing.
Fractional reserve banking is the “financial” term for lending out depositors money.

Did you even bother to watch the video of search elsewhere for what the term means before replying with you ill-informed nonsense.

Try again , and this time work out what the “fractional” bit means. 😉

Banks loan out depositors money.

Yes, that’s what I thought when I was 16 y.o. , now find out how the banking system really works.

I can remember high-school economics lessons where we were told that on of the roles of banks was “creation of wealth”. At the time I did not understand what that really implied.
Now I do. You should too.

Thanks Fanakapan.

Reply to  Fanakapan
December 25, 2019 3:49 pm

I did watch, it’s nonsense on stilts.
Paranoia isn’t pretty.

Reply to  Fanakapan
December 25, 2019 6:26 pm

Thank you. Eyeopening.

Jim C
Reply to  Fanakapan
December 26, 2019 9:27 am

Fanakapan is right. Banks do create money (well, currency) out of thin air when they originate loans. When the loans are paid back, the money “vanishes”†.

But the interest on the loan is not created, and can only be paid back if monetary velocity is sufficiently high. This is why central bankers are worried about “deflation” – they’re not referring to prices dropping, they’re worried about a contraction of the money supply which leads to a spiral of NPLs and defaults.

At present, our economies are being sustained with ZIRP/NIRP central bank liquidity, which has created an “everything” bubble. Whenever interest rates rise, markets panic and one or other central bank opens the liquidity spigots via QE or repo.

Just admit you had no idea, Tim Gorman, and move on, rather than sling slurs like “paranoia” around, which isn’t even accurate; “paranoia” is when someone thinks everything is about them. Greg never suggested our current monetary regime was aimed at him personally.

† this does not apply to cash, which is printed by government agencies and sold to banks at face value, with the difference (“seigniorage”) going to the government as profit. But cash only makes up a small percentage of all monetary aggregates.

Jim C
Reply to  Fanakapan
December 26, 2019 9:35 am

Anyone who doubts that commercial banks create virtually all currency can to the horse’s mouth:

Jim C
Reply to  Fanakapan
December 26, 2019 1:05 pm

Oops, that comment re: “paranoia” should have been addressed to MarkW, not Tim Gorman. Apologies Tim.

Kenneth Hunter
Reply to  Fanakapan
December 30, 2019 8:19 pm

The principle still applies even though the actual wealth is fictitious.

Larry in Texas
Reply to  Tim Gorman
December 25, 2019 9:10 am

Some debtors during that period did not “refuse” to repay their loans; they were financially unable to pay those loans. Which is more damning, because it was further evidence that these loans should not have been made in the first instance. But when government regulators, in their zeal to create “affordable” housing, lowered underwriting standards, you got the housing bubble and the resulting financial crisis.

Reply to  Larry in Texas
December 25, 2019 2:32 pm

Don’t blame governmenmt regulators when PLOTICIANS are the ones who forced the bad loans. See Bill Clinton’s actions.

This is why TRUMP is so hated. He is trying to end the crony crap and all insiders, Democrat of Republican, hate that.

Kenneth Hunter
Reply to  Larry in Texas
December 30, 2019 8:20 pm

Which government ought have no role in investment.

Reply to  Tim Gorman
December 25, 2019 10:43 am

I can’t believe he didn’t take into account the Millions who were killed because of Net Neutrality!!!

Reply to  Greg
December 25, 2019 5:47 am

Be of good spirit, Master Greg.

Although many will share your resentment at those who are the largest beneficiaries of the progress we observe, and think them undeserving, all of us are getting better off, whether we realise it or not. And those most rapidly advancing are those in Asia and Africa who have at last embraced (and been allowed to embrace) western capitalism. It works.

Of course there are setbacks – ‘as we saw in 2008’ – but they can now be seen as mere bumps in the road.

Reply to  mothcatcher
December 25, 2019 7:29 am

The mistake is to believe that the world’s wealth is zero-sum; the childlike idea that if one person is gaining in wealth, it’s because others are losing theirs. No, Virginia, Mr. Bloomberg’s billions are not impoverishing hordes of poor people. Wealth is the creation of value, such as when new technologies and products appear that people didn’t even know they “needed.” Think iPhone, Microsoft, Netflix, Uber, Hulu, Instagram, FB and all the rest. No one was impoverished in the creation of whole new categories of wealth-generators.

The simple truth is that when formerly impoverished populations, living at subsistence level, attain middle-class status, damage to the environment is reduced or eliminated and ultimately, because it’s a major determinant of quality of life, cleaned up. In the NEXT 10 years, watch as this hits Africa and India in addition to other former backwaters. As infant mortality plunges, the birth rate slows to barely replacement if not below. We are seeing that all across the entire developed world now.

Things are working out in their own way and in their own time for “sustainability.” The UN won’t need to inflict fuel poverty or pea burgers on us to “save the Planet” which is actually, demonstrably, vibrantly healthy. Resolve for 2020 to push back against the foolishness.

Merry Christmas, everybody! 😉

Paul S
Reply to  Goldrider
December 25, 2019 8:25 am

Wealth is not created by reallocating the slices of the pie, it is made by making a larger pie.

Reply to  Goldrider
December 25, 2019 8:48 am

All of progressivism and collectivism is based on a foundation of belief that all wealth and resources are zero sum.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Las Vegas
Reply to  Goldrider
December 25, 2019 10:30 am


You are mostly correct. As for the billionaires, hoarding wealth is nothing like creating it. Some billionaires created wealth, others accumulated it is a zero-sum fashion.

Some people who create a large amount of wealth accumulated little of it for themselves. People have different interests and goals.

Dr St Barbe Baker is someone who contributed (modestly) at least 4 billion Pounds to global economy while taking nearly none of it. Some people’s behavior is worthy of imitation.

Kevin kilty
Reply to  Goldrider
December 25, 2019 3:23 pm

… No, Virginia, Mr. Bloomberg’s billions are not impoverishing hordes of poor people. …

Although if spent in a concerted effort to propagandize the electorate and elect nincompoops and enact thoughtless laws and regulations, it could end up impoverishing folks.

John Culhane
Reply to  Greg
December 25, 2019 8:57 am

In my opinion the bursting of debt bubbles is going to be one of the defining issues of the next decade of the 21st century. The caveat being I have no way to know the timing of the event but it seems obvious to me the day of reckoning has not been resolved by the actions taken in the aftermath of the 2008 North Atlantic banking crisis, such reform has merely been deferred. My fear is such an event as a wave of sovereign defaults could be the opportunity the green new dealers (i.e. Maoists and their ilk) in the West gain purchase with electorates to make their aspirations of seizing power a reality.

Farmer Ch E retired
Reply to  Greg
December 25, 2019 8:58 am

Greg – Here’s a concept: run from debt! It’s taken me a bit of living to learn that lesson.

Merry Christmas!

Reply to  Farmer Ch E retired
December 25, 2019 9:46 am

If what you buy with debt can earn you more money than the cost of the debt, then run towards debt.

Farmer Ch E retired
Reply to  MarkW
December 25, 2019 10:56 am

Using OPM is popular but debt doesn’t show up on the “asset” column on your balance sheet. Being debt free puts the wind at your back so to speak. Aren’t subject to bankruptcy, become the lender rather than the borrower, have peace of mind, etc.

Reply to  MarkW
December 25, 2019 11:37 am

Income is what puts the wind at your back, so to speak.
Debt is not a problem so long as it is properly managed.
Of course debt doesn’t show up in the asset column, it shows up in the debit column. However what you buy with that debt shows up in the asset column.

Fear of debt keeps many poor.

Farmer Ch E retired
Reply to  MarkW
December 25, 2019 1:10 pm

MarkW – good points – debt can also keep one poor when you can’t manage your “wanter” and don’t use the debt to produce wealth. Debt has a tenancy to keeps the bank building large compared to the size of your house. Usually, the bigger your house, the longer until you actually own it (check out “The Millionaire Mind” or “The Millionaire Next Door”). I’m talking personal finance here – businesses mostly manage debt in a more purposeful and structured way.


Reply to  MarkW
December 25, 2019 2:13 pm

Just about every business building I have ever seen is bigger than my house. No business buys a building bigger than they need now or the near future.
It has nothing to do with it being a bank.

Reply to  Greg
December 25, 2019 9:43 am

Wealth is not and never has been “debt”.
Debt is not indentured slavery.

It is possible to use borrowed money to create wealth, but only if you invest it responsibly.

Banks do not and never have “created” money.
Banks lend out the money that has been deposited, this money gets deposited in a new account and this may look like extra money, but at the same time a debt is created in an equal amount. No new money is created.

john pearson
Reply to  MarkW
December 25, 2019 10:46 am

sorry but its one of the stupidest comments ive read on here.

Reply to  MarkW
December 25, 2019 10:47 am

“Fractional reserve banking is a system in which only a fraction of bank deposits are backed by actual cash on hand and available for withdrawal. This is done to theoretically expand the economy by freeing capital for lending”. Investopedia.

Reply to  Vincent
December 25, 2019 11:39 am

Nothing theoretical about it. If banks couldn’t lend out a portion of their deposits, lending would all but grind to a halt, as would the economy.

Kyle in Upstate NY
Reply to  MarkW
December 26, 2019 6:32 am

Banks create money through lending which expands the money supply. A major crisis can cause banks to call in their loans, which causes a decrease in the money supply, which can be very dangerous. The Federal Reserve’s job in such a situation is to step in and create money to counter this. This is what the Fed did in 2008: flooded the economy with money to counter the severe deflation (money supply collapse) that was occurring. Not doing this in the wake of the 1929 crash and allowing the money supply to collapse caused the Great Depression.

Money is not the same thing as wealth in the economy. Money is how we exchange our wealth and labor, but the supply of money in the economy doesn’t directly track the supply of wealth.

Jim C
Reply to  MarkW
December 26, 2019 9:32 am

Mark, you have no idea what you’re talking about. Banks have increasing been the main source of currency creation since the end of the classical gold standard back in 1914. Now they create something like 97% of all currency.

Reply to  Eugene Lynx
December 25, 2019 3:18 pm

Nice to be reminded of this positive global perspective. Pity theres not an equal balance of this +ve view in opposition to the dominant -ve ‘catastrophic’ global perspective promoted by school & tertiary institution curriculums.

Reply to  Eugene Lynx
December 26, 2019 3:44 pm

Maybe I missed it … but did the article mention that the current climate is the best it has been for humans in 800 to 1,000 years, since before the relatively cold centuries called the Little Ice Age.

I think it is worth mentioning that we’d have to travel back in time at least 5,000 years, to the Holocene Optimum, for a slightly warmer climate, although the CO2 level back then was too low for plants.

So, if you consider humans, animals that live outdoors AND plants, the climate on our planet does not get much better than it is today.

The only improvement I can think of would be to double or triple the CO2 level for optimum C3 plant growth — at that CO2 level the climate would be great for humans, animals, AND plants too.

Of course we would still have trouble enjoying a wonderful climate, with all the hysterical bellowing from leftists … STILL predicting a coming climate crisis, that never shows up … which they started doing in the late 1950s !

Joe Soap
Reply to  Richard Greene
December 27, 2019 5:51 pm

Good post but if I was being picky it might be more accurate to say CO2 level was dangerously low for plants not too low.

December 25, 2019 2:38 am

Another fact that could be added to the list that in turn effects pretty much effects all the others. We are living in the most peaceful time in modern history.

Reply to  rah
December 25, 2019 7:40 am

Obesity has been wiped out in Venezuela. Children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo don’t spend all their time on smartphones or playing computer games, Minecraft is different there.

Homelessness of Uighurs is virtually unknown in China. All those tragic weather events and temperature records of the past are being eliminated. Sweden is becoming the Mecca of…oh I could go on and on.

Reply to  Scissor
December 25, 2019 9:29 am

And 75 years ago today American and Germans were blowing each other to smithereens in a desperate struggle during the coldest winter to hit Europe in 40+ years that took an even heavier toll than the enemy. The heaviest attacks of the siege of Bastogne occurred on this day. Meanwhile further south the heavy fighting continued as the Colmar pocket was nearly reduced. On the Eastern front millions had already died in their death struggle that was wasting human lives on an almost unimaginable rate and scale. During WW I it was common across the whole long front for unofficial cease fires on Christmas. During the Christmas 1944 on the Western front there was very little of that and none of it on the eastern front. And at this time Hitler’s death camps had already ramped up the killing as they started trying to hide the evidence of what they had done. Meanwhile in the Pacific heavy Kamikaze attacks continued against the US invasion fleet off Mindoro, Philippines. The Japanese made the last raid of the war on the B-29 bases in the Marianas when the one at Saipan was attacked.
WW II would take about 53 million lives, over 1/2 of which were noncombatants.
We live in the most peaceful time in modern history. Wars now occur in local or regional scales’ The armed conflicts occurring now are very small potatoes compared to many that came before. Too bad you apparently can’t see that.

Reply to  rah
December 25, 2019 2:55 pm

I meant no disrespect. I can see your point.

I was trying to illustrate the irony that leftists have to lie, cheat, steal to claim something they have achieved is good. Like, one can schedule an organ transplant in China but generally not in the U.S. That is because in China they would “select” an appropriate “donor” from their prisoner population or list of political enemies.

We do live in peaceful times, but I worry that the potential for destruction with nuclear weapons is worrisome.

Reply to  Scissor
December 25, 2019 4:41 pm

Ah, what the heck Scissor! Merry Christmas to you and yours. Peace on earth and good will to all.

Reply to  Scissor
December 25, 2019 5:31 pm

Merry Christmas to you and a Happy New Year too!

John McClure
Reply to  rah
December 25, 2019 12:12 pm

Peace is King for humanity.

Every child knows the thanks from family and learns Love.

The “List” is nearly endless; Love.

Best to You this Holiday,

Reply to  John McClure
December 25, 2019 4:46 pm

Thank you John and Merry Christmas.

December 25, 2019 2:46 am

Below is the remainder of Matt Ridley’s very good article from The Spectator.

I was just about to wrote something like Matt’s first paragraph below. Green energy is an enormous failure due to intermittency and diffusivity. We’ve known this since forever, and stated this in 2002 in one of our first articles. We wrote in 2002:

“The ultimate agenda of pro-Kyoto advocates is to eliminate fossil fuels, but this would result in a catastrophic shortfall in global energy supply – the wasteful, inefficient energy solutions proposed by Kyoto advocates simply cannot replace fossil fuels.”

The above statement is demonstrably correct-to-date.

I also wrote recently:

“Fossil fuels comprise fully 85% of global primary energy, unchanged in decades, and unlikely to change in future decades.”

Green energy does not even reduce CO2 emissions significantly – all it does is greatly increase power costs and reduce grid reliability – and uses up a lot of land, kills countless birds and bats, wastes enormous amounts of scarce global resources and blights the landscape.

Even our most imbecilic politicians could not be this stupid for this long – those that continue to support green energy nonsense are probably “on the take” – time to do a detailed forensic audit of their finances.

“A modern irony is that many green policies advocated now would actually reverse the trend towards using less stuff. A wind farm requires far more concrete and steel than an equivalent system based on gas. Environmental opposition to nuclear power has hindered the generating system that needs the least land, least fuel and least steel or concrete per megawatt. Burning wood instead of coal in power stations means the exploitation of more land, the eviction of more woodpeckers — and even higher emissions. Organic farming uses more land than conventional. Technology has put us on a path to a cleaner, greener planet. We don’t need to veer off in a new direction. If we do, we risk retarding progress.

As we enter the third decade of this century, I’ll make a prediction: by the end of it, we will see less poverty, less child mortality, less land devoted to agriculture in the world. There will be more tigers, whales, forests and nature reserves. Britons will be richer, and each of us will use fewer resources. The global political future may be uncertain, but the environmental and technological trends are pretty clear — and pointing in the right direction.”

December 25, 2019 4:32 am

“time to do a detailed forensic audit of their finances.”

No, they are not on the take from renewable manufacturers more than from fossil fuel companies, that is just silly, if you look at what they are worth.

They are simply profitting from the surge in naive “green” reclamations of voters. OK, you want green, we’ll provide it. “Let be clear, the policies I’m proscribing will make energy prices skyrocket” … but if that’s what you really want, vote for me.

Reply to  Greg
December 25, 2019 5:45 am

No. It isn’t “OK, you want green, we’ll provide it.”

It’s “Ok, you need green, we’ll provide it.” The key word in your statement is “naive”. Maybe that needs to be “mislead”

Reply to  Greg
December 25, 2019 8:37 am

Green politicians have been 100% wrong on energy policy for decades. Intermittent green energy is extremely destructive to society – green energy makes economies uncompetitive, destroys jobs, drives up Winter Mortality, impoverishes many and makes a few people rich. Bill Gates, who is intelligent, ultimately accepted this reality. Why don’t/can’t green politicians get it?

“Green energy does not even reduce CO2 emissions significantly – all it does is greatly increase power costs and reduce grid reliability – and uses up a lot of land, kills countless birds and bats, wastes enormous amounts of scarce global resources and blights the landscape.”

There are several alternative explanations for the refusal by politicians to accept the obvious fatal flaws of intermittent green energy::
1. They are “on the take”;
2. They are incredibly stupid – that is, they must inhabit the lower reaches of human incompetence;
3. They have a covert agenda – they really do want to destroy the economy and cause human hardship;
4. Some or all of the above.

Joel O’Bryan
December 25, 2019 2:48 am

”A modern irony is that many green policies advocated now would actually reverse the trend towards using less stuff.

Which is exactly why we must fear climate change policy, not climate change itself.
Everything in CC policy will bring about the very things the Greentards claim it is to avert/avoid.
The Greentards stalwart resistance to nuclear power informs one of what they are really up to.

December 25, 2019 3:11 am

Happy Christmas to all here at WUWT.


Bob boder
Reply to  Bob Tisdale
December 25, 2019 3:57 am

Merry Xmas to you Bob and thank you for all your work

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Bob Tisdale
December 25, 2019 4:51 am

Merry Christmas to you too, Bob!

Luc Ozade
Reply to  Bob Tisdale
December 25, 2019 6:45 am

Happy Christmas to you too, Bob.

And a very happy Christmas and prosperous New Year to Anthony, Charles, Eric and all the team at WUWT. You’ve all had an outstanding year.

Plus all the season’s greetings also to all my friends/colleagues and fellow readers and commenters.

Reply to  Bob Tisdale
December 25, 2019 8:34 am

Back at you Bob and for all of you here.

We get two here. Christmas eve with celebrate with our kids and Grandkids and on Christmas day go to Dads where the whole family will celebrate the day.
Best Christmas song video I have seen this year. Really brings forth the reason for the season.

Reply to  Bob Tisdale
December 25, 2019 10:04 am

Happy Christmas Bob, and thank you for all your good work.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Bob Tisdale
December 25, 2019 10:46 am

Thanks, Bob. And to you as well.

Everyone should visit Bob’s site, Climate Observations. It is a treasure trove of information, including free climate related books.

Ron Long
December 25, 2019 3:23 am

Great, upbeat posting by Matt Ridley, who is smart, educated, and successful. I have a similar positive view of us humans potential, with one large reservation; the numbers of low-achievers is increasing dramatically and they want what you have. The on-going destructive demonstrations in Chile are to achieve “economic equality”. Not equal opportunity, not a reasonable standard of living, actual economic equality. It is similar to the liberals in the USA demanding equal results, not equal opportunity. The accumulating masses are the source for support for climate change nonsense, socialism, no borders, and, yes, impeach the President. I need a drink, even if it is Christmas morning.

Reply to  Ron Long
December 25, 2019 4:26 am

I think you know very little about life in Chilli to make such a crass parallel with the woke left in the US.

Ron Long
Reply to  Greg
December 25, 2019 6:48 am

I have lived and worked in Chile, starting in 1980. I visit Chile at least twice a year now as I live next to the border with Chile (in Argentina). Chile was widely considered as the most advanced culture in the Americas south of the USA border, even by me. Now we are seeing the result of an avowed “Ultra Socialist” (ex-President Bachelot, currently United Nations Human Rights Investigator) allowing Indigenous groups to burn at least 200 log trucks, around 100 houses and business, and murder several persons, all without a single prosecution. The “woke left” in the USA wants what? Equal Results, Socialist agenda, universal healthcare, open borders, restoration of indigenous lands, reparations for slave descendants, damnation of Israel, etc. So, Greg, what part is not the crass parallel?

Reply to  Ron Long
December 25, 2019 2:53 pm

We have universal health care, and suboptimal financial instruments (e.g. Medicare, Medicaid., Obamacare). What we need is a functional market to determine and optimize prices and availability. The evidence supports that the overwhelming first-order forcing is not progressive costs, but rather progressive prices.

Reply to  Ron Long
December 26, 2019 4:12 am

Thank you Ron Long – I believe you.

I spent some time in Chile in the mid-1990’s, when we co-funded (50-50 with INCO) the discovery of the Loma Blanca sodium borate mine in Jujuy Province, Northern Argentina.

Chile was the most prosperous country in South America, with the best economy and rule-of-law. It was not perfect, but it was miles ahead of any other country in that continent. Of course it was vilified by the leftist world press.

I also witnessed the last gasps of the dreaded Honecker regime when I went through Checkpoint Charlie into East Germany in July of 1989, a few months before the Berlin Wall fell. It was a vicious police state – not at all the “workers’ paradise” described by Western leftists.

In the 1990’s I ran an oil project in Kazakstan that was sold to the Chinese by my successors for US$4.2 billion, and I spent some time in Russia.

It is not a coincidence that everything the Marxists touch turns to crap – because that is their primary objective – as in Venezuela, Zimbabwe, and so many other countries around the world.

They destroy the economy and live like kings atop a ruined state – because you cannot be kings without lots of peasants.

Marxism made simple! For examples, consider current political cesspools Zimbabwe and Venezuela – and there are almost 100 similar failing leftist states.

The fearless leaders are Groucho Marxists – they want power for its own sake at any cost, and typically are sociopaths or psychopaths. The great killers of the 20th Century, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, etc. were of this odious ilk – first they get power, then they implement their crazy schemes that do not work and too often kill everyone who opposes them.

The followers are Harpo Marxists – the “sheeple” – these are people of less-than-average intelligence who are easily duped and follow the Groucho’s until it is too late, their rights are lost and their society destroyed. They are attracted to simplistic concepts that “feel good” but rarely “do good”, and politicians’ promises of “lots of free stuff”.

One can easily identify crypto-Marxists – they are Democrats, Liberals, Greens, Socialists, Labourites, and today’s self-styled “Progressives”.

Almost 100 countries are now descending into the Marxist cesspool. Apparently, the untimely deaths of over 200 million innocents in the 20th Century were not enough. Do we really have to do this all again?

The great American statistician and philosopher George Carlin explained the appeal of leftist politics as follows:

Carlin said: “Think of how stupid the average person is; and then realize half of them are stupider than that!”

Reply to  Ron Long
December 26, 2019 4:17 am

Radical-green extremism was never about the environment – it was always a false crisis, a smokescreen for their true objective, the totalitarian control of our society.

Many “green” politicians covertly or openly favour a Chinese-style dictatorship. They continue to sabotage our energy systems with deeply-flawed intermittent energy schemes that destabilize the electrical grid and could lead to major catastrophes, especially if grids fail in winter. They fully understand what they are doing – nobody could be this stupid for this long.

The true radical-green objective is to create an economic disaster, like Venezuela or Zimbabwe, as a means of gaining total political control. The radical greens have already gained control of most of our educational and professional institutions as a means to achieve their objectives – that strategy originated in the 1930’s and is now called “The Long March through the Institutions”.
“There’s little debate that modern-day American universities, public education, mainstream media, Hollywood and political advocacy groups are dominated by Leftists. This is no accident, but part of a deliberate strategy to pave the way for communist revolution developed more than eight decades ago by an Italian political theorist named Antonio Gramsci.
Described as one of the world’s most important and influential Marxist theorists since Marx himself, if you are not familiar with Gramsci, you should be.
The Italian communist (1891 – 1937) is credited with the blueprint that has served as the foundation for the Cultural Marxist movement in modern America.
Later dubbed by 1960s German student activist Rudi Dutschke as “the long march through the institutions,” Gramsci wrote in the 1930s of a “war of position” for socialists and communists to subvert Western culture from the inside in an attempt to compel it to redefine itself.
Gramsci used war metaphors to distinguish between a political “war of position” – which he compared to trench warfare – and the “war of movement (or maneuver)” which would be a sudden full-frontal assault resulting in complete social upheaval.”

When I wrote the following papers earlier this year, my views were considered excessive – but it took only months for the radical greens to prove me correct.

Told you so.

Regards, Allan

“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” – Yogi Berra
“Not so much.” – Borat Sagdiyev 🙂


Hypothesis: Radical Greens Are The Great Killers Of Our Age
By Allan M.R. MacRae, B.A.Sc., M.Eng., April 14, 2019

Science’s Untold Scandal: The Lockstep March Of Professional Societies To Promote Climate Change
By Tom Harris and Dr. Jay Lehr, May 24, 2019

CO2, Global Warming, Climate And Energy
by Allan M.R. MacRae, B.A.Sc., M.Eng., June 15, 2019

The Cost To Society Of Radical Environmentalism
By Allan M.R. MacRae, B.A.Sc., M.Eng., July 4, 2019

What The Green New Deal Is Really About — And It’s Not The Climate
By Allan M.R. MacRae, B.A.Sc., M.Eng., July 19, 2019

The Next Great Extinction Event Will Not Be Global Warming – It Will Be Global Cooling
By Allan M.R. MacRae, B.A.Sc., M.Eng., September 1, 2019

The Liberals’ Covert Green Plan for Canada – Poverty and Dictatorship
by Allan M.R. MacRae, B.A.Sc., M.Eng., October 1, 2019

The Real Climate Crisis Is Not Global Warming, It Is Cooling, And It May Have Already Started
By Allan M.R. MacRae and Joseph D’Aleo, October 27, 2019

Summary Of Recent Posts
By Allan M.R. MacRae, B.A.Sc., M.Eng., Nov 24, 2019

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Greg
December 25, 2019 9:14 am

“Chile”, the other thing is hot pepperish (OK, in my old age, I do make these kind of errors too often!🤗 )

Larry in Texas
Reply to  Greg
December 25, 2019 9:14 am

The “woke Left in the US” are actually asleep in their ignorance of the facts that Matt Ridley, Allan McRae, and others have pointed out.

Reply to  Greg
December 25, 2019 9:38 am

The only thing I know about life in “Chilli” is that it’s hot, damn hot, and don’t scratch anywhere precious after you’ve been in contact with “Chilli”

Merry Christmas, Greg.

Reply to  Greg
December 25, 2019 11:27 am

Chile was once the shining exception to the ruie of economic and social failure in Latin America. Unfortunately, the country is regressing fast under the Leftists.

john cooknell
December 25, 2019 4:05 am

But we are at the start of the 3rd mass extinction, I heard it on the BBC so it must be true!

The teachers have filled our children’s heads with rubbish, just as they filled ours with Paul Ehrlichs rubbish. Education is very valuable? In 10 years time these children will become really cynical, but I would imagine they will still blame their parents, that is what children do!

Merry Xmas

Reply to  john cooknell
December 25, 2019 5:43 am

Mass Extinction based on another 1.0 to 1.5 C Global Average Temperature is on shaky ground.

Every single species alive today (excluding a few possible new ones) lived through the entirety of the last 20,000 years. During which time it was both 5 C warmer and 5 C colder than now. So one must assume that the required adaptability to Climate changes exists amongst the species. The rate of warming is not unprecedented so that factor is excluded until that changes.

John Tillman
Reply to  DocSiders
December 25, 2019 1:12 pm

The Holocene Optimum probably wasn’t five degrees C warmer globally than now, but might have been even more than that in polar regions. OTOH, the Last Glacial Maximum was probably more than five degrees C colder on global average.

There were however extinctions above background during the past 20,000 years, largely due to H. sapiens’ invasions of new environments rather than climate change. Some human subspecies and species were among the victims.

Eugene Lynx
Reply to  John Tillman
December 25, 2019 3:45 pm

Yes, we killed all the cute little woolly mammoths, and then we killed the cute little dodos. C’est la vie c’est la mort.

Reply to  john cooknell
December 25, 2019 9:52 am

I thought it was the 6th mass extinction. BBC must have missed at least 3 of them.

December 25, 2019 4:23 am

I am constantly pleased that my electric and gas bills are far lower than I had thought they would be when I bought my little house. Efficiency is wonderful.

Merry Christmas to everyone!

Reply to  Sara
December 25, 2019 6:25 am

You, evidently, are not served by PG&E … who are seeking a (nother) rate increase to pay for maintenance and repairs of their neglected infrastructure. Huh? You’re telling me that the CPUC has been allowing PG&E to charge all those rates, for all those years, without set-asides for continual maintenance and repair of their infrastructure? Who’s allowed them to get away with this misallocation of funds for all these years?

The very same people who instituted new gasoline taxes … for road maintenance, repairs, and improvements … because the old taxes were, uh, well, erm … “used for something else”. Uh … but weren’t gasoline taxes supposed to be used FOR just those things?

The one area of life that is not getting more efficient, streamlined, and economical? The one area that doesn’t NEED TO … your “government”. They’re grabbing the wealth and prosperity dividend you’ve all created and WASTING IT like Drunken (stoned) Sailers on a 10-year long shore leave bender. Their FREE lunch that they’re now making ME pay-for … will … with 100% certainty … come crashing down around their soft, pointy, heads. And then ? They’ll simply raise your taxes … again … to “stimulate” THEIR own personal economies (and unfunded pensions).

And thus … another sunspot cycle hits bottom.

But … Happy Christmas to all. There is Good News! Trump is still in the White House, we are spending record amounts of our increasing incomes, our 401k’s have never been fatter, and except for Islam … and Communism in Hong Kong … there’s Peace on Earth and Goodwill toward Men (Women, and 367 in-betweens). Merry Christmas!

Reply to  Kenji
December 25, 2019 1:57 pm

..another problem

As things…appliances, cars, etc…get more efficient..they use less power…power company collects less money….while their overhead increases

…rates have to go up

December 25, 2019 5:11 am

Rising wealth and consumption in poor third world countries is alarming to some

Reply to  chaamjamal
December 25, 2019 11:04 am

Diversity (i.e. color judgment) and exclusion, has undergone a semantic mutation and evolved.

Carl Friis-Hansen
December 25, 2019 5:13 am

The alarmists preach Amish lifestyle, but strive to live like the Hollywood dream.

Complaining about the weather goes as human nature, but it is bound to make you happier wearing the right clothes and enjoy the dynamic opportunities.
As O’Brien says: “Always look at the bright side of life 🙂 ” Although sarcastic punchline, it is the whole basis of progress.
As statement from article says:

Since its inception, the environmental movement has been obsessed by finite resources.

A sole focus on negative possibilities is not helping improve overall happiness and satisfaction.
If the obsession instead has been: “… obsessed by new effective, practical and economic resources.” That would be the mental power enhancing quality of life and happiness.

The article is going a long way towards such a positive view on life. The Al Gore and Greta attitude is counter productive in general, hampering the US constitutional idea of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Let’s focus more in the new year on all the positive possibilities to strive towards, without going into utopian dreaming and thereby eventually destroying the great achievements pointed out in this article.

Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
December 25, 2019 7:35 am

I’m convinced a great deal of the negativity is born of most of the population walking around with low-grade clinical depression due to the Standard American Diet’s not providing essential nutrients while overloading everyone with inflammatory glutens, industrial seed oils and refined sugars. Not realizing the depression is chemical, people seek a real-world cause to justify their perpetual bummer.


Anna Keppa
Reply to  Goldrider
December 25, 2019 10:50 am

Then explain why Greta and so many of the Extinction Rebellion are from outside the dietetically-benighted United States.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
January 7, 2020 1:28 am
December 25, 2019 5:31 am

Even better, there’s one more year in this 202nd decade. (Curse you, Roman Numerals.)

Merry Christmas, fellow pedants!

Reply to  Ric Werme
December 25, 2019 9:35 am

If the first decade started at “0”, isn’t the end of the decade at the end of “9”?

0000-0009 0010-0019 … 2000-2009 2010-2019

Inquiring minds want to know.

old engineer
Reply to  rbabcock
December 25, 2019 9:57 am


To ease the inquiring mind – there was no year zero. AD ( or Current Era, if that’s your fancy) began with the year 1. So yes, there is one more year in the second decade of the 21st century.

Reply to  old engineer
December 25, 2019 2:16 pm

Old Engineer is correct. The year before 1AD was 1BC.
[I refuse to use modern abominations like CE and BP]

Reply to  Mike Jonas
December 25, 2019 3:53 pm

A fair number of people consider CE to be insulting.
It’s just a relabeling of the Christian/European calendar, there is nothing Common about it.

The only people offended by “AD” and “BC” are those progressives who spend their lives being offended by everything.

December 25, 2019 5:41 am

A very informative and uplifting essay by Matt Ridley. Great start for Christmas day! I will try to leave it on the laptop of a certain family member later on and watch for the response!

old white guy
December 25, 2019 5:43 am

None of the words alter the truth or the reality of Attenborough’s statement. There really is a limit, when or how long is anyone’s guess.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  old white guy
December 25, 2019 9:22 am

Old white: There is no limit to resources. Human ingenuity IS the resource. An electrical engineer friend of about 50 years ago said we could make a radio out of non metallic raw materials.

Reply to  old white guy
December 25, 2019 11:45 am

As the article pointed out, our economies continue to grow, even as we use less resources.
There is no reason to believe that wealth can’t grow forever.

Reply to  old white guy
December 25, 2019 11:50 am

For a couple of examples:
Compare a modern computer to one built 20 years ago. The modern computer is a thousand times more powerful, is smaller and uses less power.
Compare modern cars to those built 20 years ago. The modern care is better built, uses less gas and probably weighs less.

Reply to  MarkW
December 26, 2019 9:39 am

I forgot about TV’s. Anyone else out there old enough to remember the old projection TVs?

Patrick MJD
Reply to  MarkW
December 26, 2019 8:56 pm

“MarkW December 25, 2019 at 11:50 am

Compare modern cars to those built 20 years ago. The modern care is better built, uses less gas and probably weighs less.”

Not always true. Compare, for instance, the weight of a Mk1 VW Golf and a Mk6. You will find the Mk6 is quite a bit heavier, albeit safer, more features, more comfort and more economical.

Robert MacLellan
December 25, 2019 5:53 am

An upbeat optimistic post for Christmas, Thank you and Merry Christmas to all. Remember that spending time with family is the greatest wealth of all.

December 25, 2019 6:02 am

Very good summary of the recent progress of mankind. Not only that all is not lost, contrary to the climate alarmists, but mankind is enjoying the very best times in all human history and pre-history, and the times they are a gettin’ better.

When I was a teenager in the 1960s/early 1970s, I remember well Paul Ehrlich and his fellow doomsayers describing the imminent disappearance of the world’s forests, and songs by Joni Mitchell wailing that we were paving over paradise. Yet as I grew older and began flying commercially for busness trips and saw firsthand the vast areas of the eastern woodlands from the air … and learned that the US has seen a significant increase in woodland area since the end of the 19th century … and began to realize that merely extrapolating past performance is a terrible predictor of the future.

It really hit me a few months ago when I watched a TV news reporter interviewing a roomful of African women about their trials and tribulations living in and raising families in an impoverished third world nation … and at one point the interviewer asked how many of the women in the room had smart phones … and nearly every woman raised up their hand proudly holding a smart phone!!

Could anyone have imagined that 20 years ago?!

December 25, 2019 6:08 am

Environmentalists = Luddites =Irrational Fear=Violence=Doomed to Fail

December 25, 2019 6:10 am

Emotional Stimulation sells…good or bad.

But the good stuff has to be really good stuff…exceptionally good stuff…like Ridley’s article here.

Reply to  DocSiders
December 25, 2019 10:48 am

Here is a great 4 minute visualization of world progress made since the industrial revolution: B I

Reply to  Ty
December 25, 2019 2:07 pm


December 25, 2019 6:15 am

This was predicted by Buckminster Fuller a long time ago. He called it ephemeralization. He said that Malthus was wrong. When a material starts to become expensive, we find a way to use less and we find a way to substitute different materials.

Our good buddy, Al Gore, also noted the phenomenon.

Between 1977 and 2001, the amount of material required to meet all needs of Americans fell from 1.18 trillion pounds to 1.08 trillion pounds, even though the country’s population increased by 55 million people. Al Gore similarly noted in 1999 that since 1949, while the economy tripled, the weight of goods produced did not change.[2] link

We do have a tiger by the tail though. If stupid green/Marxist policies slow the development of technology, we could slide into the abyss. Thank goodness we have people like Steven Pinker and Matt Ridley educating the masses.

May the spirit of Christmas – peace, brotherhood, love and forgiveness – bless you all.

Bob Vislocky
December 25, 2019 6:46 am

Enjoy the the last few days of the 2010s while you can, because in about 12 years it’ll all come crashing to an end, LOL.

Reply to  Bob Vislocky
December 25, 2019 7:46 am

I’ll stock up on wine and cheese for that.

Greg Woods
Reply to  Sara
December 25, 2019 9:19 am

and single malt whisky

Luc Ozade
Reply to  Greg Woods
December 26, 2019 11:57 am

Don’t forget the popcorn 😉

Steinar Midtskogen
December 25, 2019 6:58 am

Not that 2020 is likely to change the decade much, but note that the second decade of the 21st century ends on 31st December 2020 – in little over a year.

Reply to  Steinar Midtskogen
December 25, 2019 1:06 pm

Only if you accept that the Millennium began on 1 January 2001, and the world didn’t seem to think so. Most people world consider that the 1930s began in 1930, etc.

Reply to  RobH
December 25, 2019 3:51 pm

You are right RobH, most people were too lazy or uncaring to think it through. This is why we need WUWT, It is one of our best hopes in getting people to think things through.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to the entire WUWT family.

Flight Level
December 25, 2019 6:59 am

Therefore the opportunities for some to bring down the “Not-Free” countries number to one: The world, seen by the Club Of Rome as an unique homogenous source of income to the happy few ones.

The Third Reich had similar ambitions and, forget we shall not, coined the first “ecological segregation”, the difference between those who deserve bio-dynamic food and the rest who merely pollute the lands.

Next time you board a plane have a taught for all those who at their best age flew west so that you, dear passengers, can freely board, cross the lands and oceans of a free world.

Freedom and those willing to take it away. The choice is yours. Happy holiday tours, productive biz-trips or guarded boxcars ? Should be a no-brainer for most.

Learn from the mistakes of others. You won’t live long enough to make all of them yourself.

Tailwind and merry Xmas each and everyone !

December 25, 2019 7:07 am

#2, #3, #6 & #7. Glad to see improvement in all but those are the ones that I feel are the best indicators of true progress.

Have a safe and fun / relaxing holiday everyone.

December 25, 2019 7:13 am

Glad to see confirmation of the fact that the UK is using less energy.

It could well be the reason for the Green/CC bunco scam ?

Think about it, you’re a energy supplier, and the product you supply is needed by everybody, a veritable captive market. Then, progress enables your captive market to use less of your product, Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa !

Obviously the rentier businessman could just jack up rates to keep his income the same, but there’s a big chance that such action would get peoples backs up, and ornery customers are not whats wanted.

Inventing a Planetary Emergency in such circumstances could well be a smart move. 🙂

Tom Abbott
December 25, 2019 7:55 am

And to add to the good news, it appears that with economic opportunity, the human population self-regulates itself, and afluent nations are now experiencing a natural population decrease.

Once all of humanity reaches affluence, the population of the Earth should stablize and perhaps even decline a little.

Affordable, available electricity is what leads nations to affluence.

Merry Christmans to All. Let us treat others as we would want to be treated.

December 25, 2019 9:35 am

how does one measure wealth?? ..
a 25 grand house (1945) goes for 1 million now(2019)..
or as gold bars per capita??
the rise in life span is a better approximation of a better lifestyle..

December 25, 2019 10:33 am

Here is a great 4 minute visualization of world progress made since the industrial revolution:

Reply to  Ty
December 25, 2019 1:03 pm

Here is the pessimistic/socialist/communist response video response to the above.

Reply to  Scissor
December 26, 2019 5:02 am

I notice he has comments disabled on YT so no one can criticize his approach.

December 25, 2019 10:42 am

Is the rational optimist right to be so optimistic? He states it is ironic that policies advocated by groups like XR will result in more consumption and more land use. It would not be merely ironic but tragic. If governments of the West meet these targets even half way, it would lead to an environmental catastrophe of the highest order.

The whole trend of reversing land use and material consumed would be thrown into reverse. The vast carpets of wind farms would ensure that high flying migratory birds would disappear from the skies. Forests would recede as more and more countries resort to cannibalising the only “renewable” fuel available to meet their emission targets.

And nor would this madness be stopped even when the damage became apparent to the dimmest politicians, for once set into motion, these laws develop an entire industry devoted to their continuing.

December 25, 2019 11:00 am

3. Planned parenthood (e.g. selective-child or wicked solution, clinical cannibalism)?

5. Trans/homosexual, yes, is politically congruent (“=”), but why stop there?

6. Protecting women, men, children, and babies, too, throughout our evolution, right?

10. “Free” is measured on a relative scale.

The Twilight faith or conflation of logical domains. The science of plausible. Inference (i.e. created knowledge) in lieu of the scientific method. Empathetic appeals. Deference to mortal gods.

The Pro-Choice, selective, opportunistic quasi-religion (“ethics”) is a progressive condition. One step forward, two steps backward.

December 25, 2019 11:40 am

But, but, but Trump is a bad orange man.

mario lento
December 25, 2019 11:45 am

Wonderfully positive Christmas greeting! Thank you. Would I be wrong to add Polar Bears to the list of large animals on the increase?


December 25, 2019 11:49 am

Hi there across the Atlantic
Has Potus annonced any economic measures in his Xmas address, since the $US lost 2 cents (1.11 to 1.13) to EU’s Euro?
Merry Xmas to all

Reply to  Vuk
December 25, 2019 12:30 pm

link GMT (UK time)

Reply to  Vuk
December 25, 2019 1:40 pm

panic over, looks like computers glitch

Mike Dubrasich
December 25, 2019 1:33 pm

Merry Christmas to All, Peace on Earth, and Joy to the World!

Great essay, Mr. Ridley, but you missed a big blessing. According to Dr. Spencer at UAH the global average lower tropospheric temperature (LT) anomaly has risen 0.6° C since 2009 (running centered 13-month average).

That’s 1.08°F for you old-schoolers. The troposphere is an entire degree warmer!

While you may not have noticed it where you live, the planet is marginally warmer. That means growing seasons are just a tiny bit longer, with just a fraction more rain, and agricultural productivity has increased ever so slightly.

Plants and animals are gaining net biomass. Threatened species are a little less threatened. No years in the last decade lacked summer. Continental ice sheets did not initiate. Warmth spread and cold retreated, just a little bit.

Those are Good Tidings. Thank the Lord and praise Him on this wonderful day.

December 25, 2019 4:32 pm

I think it would be great to live in some of those countries where Freedom of the Press is increasing; child poverty is falling; poverty in general is falling; prison populations are falling; homelessness is falling; income disparity is falling; the health of the population is getting better; educational standards are rising; housing stock is increasing; bombs are not blowing up your wedding celebrations; your country hasn’t (yet) been bombed into the stone-age; a country that doesn’t base it’s energy policies on, of all things, windmills; a country whose wealth doesn’t disappear into Panamanian bank accounts.
Perhaps I could live in a country whose technological advances in electronics are not based on child exploitation in the Congo or low paid workers in China. Or one who doesn’t sell weapons of mass destruction to be used on Yemeni children.
Sadly, I live in the UK. A country whose next monarch was best friends with Jimmy Savile.

Mike Maguire
December 25, 2019 11:04 pm

Ask any scientist 50 years ago what the ideal temperature of the planet might be and 97% would have said warmer.

Then climate science was hijacked to use to impose global socialism by making up a climate crisis to target the life blood of the economies of developed/rich countries……, reliable, robust and abundant fossil fuels.
The beneficial gas, CO2 was redefined as carbon pollution and warmer became a bad thing for humans, even as the rest of life on earth has been telling humans “thanks for rescuing us from near CO2 starvation”.

The current climate optimum can continue with benefits outweighing negatives until we are at least 2 degrees C warmer.

Climate science and scientists had it right 50 years ago……….but this field has been corrupted by political agenda and gone backwards with regards to applying our understanding of how this current climate optima is affecting life on this greening planet.

Best weather and climate in the last 1,000 years……when it was this warm during the Medieval Warm Period. Add in the wonderful increase in CO2 and its the best for life since humans have walked this greening planet.

Doug Coombes
December 26, 2019 1:07 am

This is the mentality of meth addicts who think their high is going to last forever.

Our economy will not exist without the stable base that is provided by a diverse and robust biosphere of which we are just a tiny part. All the evidence indicates that biosphere is in rapid decline and will not provide a stable base for anything much longer. Let alone a way of life by billions of humans that uses up natural resources as if there were no negative impacts.

Those negative impacts are incredible already, research shows that we’ve killed half the life on Earth already and what is left is in rapid decline.

Almost a half of insect species are threatened with extinction, the global biomass of insects is decreasing at a horrific 2.5% a year. A decade now 25% of what is left will be gone and at current rates by 2100 there will be almost no insects left. That is the base of many ecosystems. Avian species are under similar threats and mammals not much better.

The oceans are heating up so fast that much of the life currently there now won’t be much longer when you add in industrial level fishing and pollution on a massive scale.

Things are only rosy here on Earth if you only think of your next high from your money addiction which is what this piece and this entire site is devoted to. And like addicts you panic at the mere thought of losing your drug of choice. Even if it kills us all in what is in relative terms a blink of an eye.

Life has been on earth for almost 4 billion years, but at the rate we are killing it off, much of it from fossil fuels forced climate change, most will be gone in decades at this rate. Something you seem oblivious to in your drug fueled delusions.

In immediate terms, tell the people being killed by massive wildfires in places like California or Australia how much better their lives are. Or those who in the thousands are now losing their homes and way of life from the extreme consequences of climate change already.

Can you really pretend that massive and frequent hurricane and cyclonic disasters aren’t real like Rush Limbaugh attempted before fleeing from one in his private jet. Or the massive wildfires that are now common globally or all the other weather “extremes” that are in fact the new catastrophic norm.

In even limited economic terms climate change is already a disaster with billions of dollars externalized by the fossil fuels sector that could reach tens of trillions in loses by mid century according to the banks, not activists. That’s something that all of the rest of us are being forced to pay to sustain an unsustainable energy model.

Go ahead and print this or not, it probably won’t make difference to people who even after all this time are still denying a reality that is has become so obvious to most of us.

Reply to  Doug Coombes
December 27, 2019 10:26 pm

Australian Wildfires – not unprecedented – nothing to do with “Climate Change” – 103 arsonists and firebugs arrested in 2 months in QLD, 74 in NSW – directly linked to the reduction in fuel load management in recent decades.
“those who in the thousands are now losing their homes and way of life from the extreme consequences of climate change already.” – are you for real? Evidence please.
“massive and frequent hurricane and cyclonic disasters” – have been steadily declining over recent decades.
“climate change is already a disaster with billions of dollars externalized by the fossil fuels sector” – the “Climate Change” industry is diverting billions and seeks to divert trillions which could otherwise be spent on ecodiversity, habitat preservation and rehabilitation, anti-pollution measures, dister prevention, disease and malnutrition prevention and treatment etc, etc.

In fact:

Rod Evans
December 26, 2019 2:03 am

I have been unhappy when cold, and I have been unhappy when warm. Given the choice I will take unhappy but warm every time.

Alasdair Fairbairn
December 26, 2019 5:14 am

It’s an odd thing in life that happiness appears to be inversely proportional to prosperity.

edward bergonzi
December 26, 2019 8:10 am

“Extreme poverty has fallen to 10%” What about run-of-the-mill, ubiquitous, mundane poverty. Regarding life expectancy … why has it fallen in the United States? Yes, there is the opioid epidemic, but what is its cause? Granted, great strides have taken place in medicine and in other fields, and there are emerging economies in what was once termed the “Third world”. But, at the risk of posing as a “Cassandra” to your “Pollyanna”, you are painting to rosy a picture.

Reply to  edward bergonzi
December 26, 2019 9:50 am

Most run of the mill poverty is self-inflicted.
Beyond that, the poverty level in the US is defined as a certain fraction of the median income. So no matter how wealthy the country, poverty will always be with us.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  MarkW
December 26, 2019 8:53 pm

Sounds like to me you haven’t experienced “poverty”.

December 26, 2019 11:57 am

The headline misses the entire point of Christmas.


Johann Wundersamer
January 6, 2020 9:48 am

“For example, a normal drink can today contains 13 grams of aluminium, much of it recycled. In 1959, it contained 85 grams. Substituting the former for the latter is a contribution to economic growth, but it reduces the resources consumed per drink” :

“tin can”, “drink can” sheets don’t mandatory include aluminium:

Johann Wundersamer
January 7, 2020 1:14 am

“The Stone Age did not end for lack of stone,

Simon said, arguing that we would find substitutes if metals grew scarce.” Simon said.

Wait a minute; the battle isn’t yet won:

Johann Wundersamer
January 7, 2020 2:21 am


All of progressivism and collectivism is based on a foundation of belief that all wealth and resources are zero sum.

I tend to agree with you, rah.

– Wealthy people can buy und collect any / everything, e.g.

– Wealthy people can buy people, staff, even companies.


– unsophisticated investors – everyday people, collectors, can buy stuff too – in their limits.

+ everyday people can make friends, meet comrades, watching TV the never ending world of sports…


What’s happening meantime – wealth, currency, money, financial properties no more show real, undistorted relations to “the world outside”.

A risky, giddy path of inch-by-inch tapping. Ahead.

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