Matt Ridley: Green Zealots are Threatening Real Conservation


By Paul Homewood

Obsession with climate change is now actively harming the environment
Environmentalists are increasingly finding themselves at odds with conservationists. Last week the head of the National Grid said the planning process will need to change because net zero requires the building of many new lines of pylons across the country. People in East Anglia are objecting to 110 miles of pylons scarring rural landscapes and ancient woodland to connect North Sea wind farms to the grid.
“We had to destroy the village to save it,” a probably apocryphal American general said in Vietnam. It is now clear that we are destroying the planet to save it from climate change. Many of the policies being pursued in the service of decarbonisation are not just economically damaging, but ecologically harmful too.
Wind farms kill hundreds of birds every year; so do cats, but these are rare species like golden eagles on land and red-throated divers offshore. They also kill bats by the thousand. If you or I killed an eagle or a bat we would go to jail. They spoil landscapes and require vast quantities of steel, concrete and rare earth metals, the mining of which is a source of pollution.
Then there’s the burning of wood by Drax power station in Yorkshire to generate electricity. Not only does wood produce more emissions than coal per unit of energy, this reverses a centuries-long trend of moving away from stealing the lunch of beetles and woodpeckers for our energy needs (nothing eats coal or gas). Much of Drax’s wood is imported from North Carolina because we don’t grow nearly enough timber in Britain. There, locals are horrified by the devastation to their woods. Yet it’s subsidised by you.
All over Wales, Scotland and northern England biodiversity-rich hills are disappearing under ecologically sterile monocultures of alien Sitka spruce thanks to government incentives to plant more trees to soak up carbon dioxide. Not only do grasslands and blanket bogs on moorland soak up CO2 almost as well, and sometimes better, they also hold back flood water and support rare birds like curlews.
In the south more and more fields are covered in futile solar “farms”, generating trickles of power when least needed – mostly on June afternoons. Sheep graze on the grass that grows under them, say their fans. Er, grass needs sunlight: the panels cut down the productivity of the land by around 90 per cent. They also displace food crops to other land elsewhere at the expense of natural habitats.
Biofuels, grown instead of food, put upward pressure on food prices and on the amount of land we need to grow food, while saving little or no emissions. On my local river, a new hydro plant generates a tiny quantity of power but threatens the migration of salmon smolts. The refusal to incinerate trash has led to it being fly-tipped in the countryside, or shipped to Asia for “recycling”, where it gets dumped in rivers or the sea. And don’t forget the diesel scandal, a worsening of urban air pollution as a direct result of a policy to reduce CO2 emissions by subsidising diesel cars.
Money available to save the red squirrel, the white clawed crayfish, or the water vole, is negligible; it all goes on decarbonisation. I once asked an ecological consultant why Natural England appeared to have lost interest in improving plant biodiversity on moorland. “You don’t understand,” she replied: “Carbon emissions are the only thing that count now.”
Climate change has become a convenient excuse for doing nothing about real conservation problem.
Where’s the outrage from environmentalists about the rape of the planet by the lucrative crony capitalists in the renewable industry? Silence. Real conservation can go hang, so long as we are seen to fight climate change.

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Bill Toland
November 8, 2022 2:18 am

Most people who call themselves environmentalists today are not environmentalists at all. They are merely climate alarmists. I am one of the few environmentalists who comes from a scientific background who actually reads the scientific literature. Most environmentalists don’t realise that the theory of catastrophic man-made global warming has no credible scientific support. They simply lack the scientific knowledge to know any better, which explains their support for environmentally damaging projects proposed by climate alarmists.

Reply to  Bill Toland
November 8, 2022 2:33 am

I have an undergraduate degree in Environmental Science and a Masters degree in Conservation (Ecology). The current rape of the Earth by so-called green energy is beyond sanity. It is just simply an evil being used to destroy us.

Allan MacRae
Reply to  Philip Mulholland
November 10, 2022 3:59 am

I agree Philip – the green energy debacle has caused great harm to our environment because of intermittency and diffusivity (requires too much land).
My co-authors and I correctly called the Global-Warming-and-Green-Energy scam in 2002 and nothing has changed. In 2013 I predicted to within one year the exact energy shortage scenario that is unfolding this winter in Britain and Germany. Long ago I called the probable “big cull” there to happen this winter.
On 21March2020 I correctly called the Covid-19 Lockdown scam based on available data and the strong similarities of that false propaganda campaign to the Climate scam.
In an email dated 8Jan2021 I warned my governments that “The Covid-19 vaccine developments were rushed and are not proven safe or effective and should NOT be taken, especially by the low-risk population, those under-65 or recovered from Covid-19.” These toxic “vaccines” have added to the cull.
Our world leaders are wasting trillions of dollars and millions of lives based on false Climate and Covid propaganda.
We are led by scoundrels and imbeciles – the scoundrels know they are lying; the imbeciles believe them. See
It is reasonable to believe that much of this destructive stupidity is deliberate, because it is impossible to believe that any individual or group could be this wrong, this utterly obtuse, for this long. It looks like the elites are deliberately culling the elderly and the poor – other interpretations are less credible.
Tomorrow is November 11, Veteran’s Day in the USA, Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth, Armistice Day in France, etc, when we honour those who served and especially the tens of millions who were injured and died in our wars. I think we will see a similar number of deaths and injuries caused by the Climate-and-Covid scams – one estimate of worldwide Covid “vaccine” deaths to date is ~20 million, and it’s not over.
Safeguard you families.
Regards, Allan MacRae in Calgary

Michael in Dublin
Reply to  Bill Toland
November 8, 2022 2:40 am

In the early thirties the government of Southern Rhodesia was faced with the depression and many unemployed people. One of their food for work projects was the planting of thousands of trees near Fort Victoria. Fifty years later this forest was a valuable resource. It makes no sense that governments like in Ireland do not get healthy young men on the dole to plant millions of trees to cover their welfare payments.

Reply to  Michael in Dublin
November 8, 2022 3:46 am

As much as I disliked FDR’s economic programs, the Civilian Conservation Corps did just that. But it had the added benefit of taking hundreds of thousands if not millions of unemployed men and subjecting them to military style organization which came in handy in a few years when WW2 broke out. The CCC was organized by General George Marshall, the ultimate Joint Chief of Staff and eventual Secretary of State.

Reply to  Buckeyebob
November 8, 2022 5:23 am

A stopped clock is right twice a day….

Reply to  Buckeyebob
November 8, 2022 6:41 am

A much better plan would have been to get rid of all the taxes and regulations that caused and extended the Depression. That way those youths would have had real jobs, instead of being indoctrinated into the belief that it was government’s job to provide for their needs.

Reply to  Buckeyebob
November 8, 2022 7:01 am

The most important part of the CCC was getting the idle youth OUT OF THE CITIES so they could not cause trouble.

Just look at what the vagrants (homeless to the left) are doing to the cities today.

A “program” to relocate them away from civil society would be the best way to handle vagrants. That would be mass incarceration in newly created towns away from any major population center, with limited ability to travel from their new “homes”. AND the ability to greatly reduce the use of mind altering drugs and provide mental health care.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Drake
November 8, 2022 9:40 am

I suppose we could use the Japanese interment camps as a template since they were so popular with the Americans that were sent to live in them. Because these “vagrants” aren’t really human and so don’t deserve the dignity of basic human rights; at least that’s what you seem to be implying.

Citizen Smith
Reply to  Paul Penrose
November 8, 2022 10:32 am

Paul, don’t fool yourself. Homeless people don’t much value dignity or spend a lot of time thinking about basic human rights. Some are mentally ill but most just want to get high.

Reply to  Drake
November 8, 2022 10:45 am

A “program” to relocate them away from civil society would be the best way to handle vagrants. That would be mass incarceration in newly created towns away from any major population center, with limited ability to travel from their new “homes”.


The way to get people off the streets is to recognise why they are on the streets, which is most likely due to addiction. Addiction to drinking, drugs, porn, gambling or any other addiction is rooted in mental health issues.

Get people off their drugs, get them into treatment for whatever mental health issue afflicts them, and you’ll cure the homeless problem.

Call me a leftie if you want, but I know from personal experience the root cause of homelessness.

Reply to  Redge
November 9, 2022 10:26 am

What about being addicted to WUWT?

Reply to  MarkW
November 9, 2022 10:58 am

🤣 🤣

Reply to  Buckeyebob
November 9, 2022 11:18 am

Civilian Conservation Corps did just that. But it had the added benefit of taking hundreds of thousands if not millions of unemployed men”

Those were the unskilled laborers.

Skilled carpenters, stone masons, electricians built many government buildings.
I worked in one such stone building that had magnificent carvings on the facade, upper walls in corridors and rooms. Walls and floors were solid stone, even the roof was stone (slate).

Compared to the modern era’s ugly cinderblock flat tar roofs construction, it was amazing to work within.

Reply to  Michael in Dublin
November 9, 2022 11:09 am

healthy young men on the dole to plant millions of trees”

Unfortunately, modern efforts to plant trees mostly plant trees that do not provide sustenance to either humans or wildlife.

Instead, for example, Arbor Day Foundation focuses on easy to propagate trees.

Their lists of available trees frequently include non-fruiting cherries, redbud, various cheap evergreens, dogwood and other trees favored by suburbanites to beautify their yards.
Instead of beach plum, apple trees, walnuts, pecans, hickories, white oaks, beech and a host of other wildlife supporting trees and shrubbery.

Lately, on the television there is a commercial highlighting debutante silliness regarding planting trees.

  • It starts off with a guy spotting a sick looking seedling growing from a crack in pavement concrete.
  • He carefully removes the seedling and heads for his car. The guy drives unexplained /untold miles to a wooded area where he plants the trees among other seedlings and saplings.
  • Commercial ends on the beatific.
  • Never explains if the character owns the land or simply trespassing.
  • Or worse, the character introduces an invasive possibly diseased species into a government maintained forest.
  • Never explains why someone needs to buy expensive fuel to drive an unneeded seedling to where the forest is already successfully replacing itself.

Actions that exemplify ignorance and extreme waste to unnecessarily transplant a seedling.
Especially since the city environment would benefit far more from a tree.

Reply to  Bill Toland
November 8, 2022 7:52 am

They simply lack the scientific knowledge to know any better

And the curiosity to try to learn.

Reply to  Bill Toland
November 8, 2022 12:50 pm

Welcome to world of the climate industrial complex.

We have had the English East India Company, the Railroads Barons, Oil barons and now have Renewable Energy Barons. The current lot are probably the most dangerous as they disguise their profit motive behind a religious like zeal that they are saving the planet, and all other environmental consequences be dammed.

Reply to  Bill Toland
November 9, 2022 10:45 am

Agreed, Bill Toland!

Unfortunately, conservation was corrupted back in the 1970s with the massive investment of people and green organizations that were completely ignorant of wildlife needs.

These activists, people and organizations have grown so distant from wildlife, that they happily sacrifice Earth, wildlife and civilization to support the construction of ever unreliable inefficient inconsistent extremely expensive green energy.

November 8, 2022 2:40 am

Look, we know they’re pushing collectivism by excuse of an imaginary climate crisis. And they know that we know – and that we know that they know that we know…

“Obsession with climate change is now actively harming the environment”

They appear to rely heavily on the greater good fallacy in order to make the individual conform. Thus, for example, the deaths of birds are an unfortunate result of the need to go renewable.

“Birdwatchers see rare white-throated needletail fly into turbine on Harris”  

An enthusiast who travelled to the Western Isles to view a rare bird has told of his “dismay” after watching it fly into a wind turbine and die.

Amazingly, there was no outrage whatsoever. But then, the narrative demands acceptance of the cost which results in ‘dismay’.  

This winter we’re being told to cook with gas with windows open and to eschew log burners (which by law must be fitted with an external flue). But that doesn’t stop media garbage like this:

“ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners are calling on Britons to “protect your neighbours” and stop using log burners as using them is like having 750 diesel trucks pumping their exhaust into your living room – including those marketed as “eco-friendly”.”

Utter bolleaux.

For the most likely outcome of their planned dystopia look at some old footage of East Germany.

Reply to  strativarius
November 8, 2022 5:21 am

strativarious:For the most likely outcome of their planned dystopia look at some old footage of East Germany.”

Great reminder! I remember seeing footage of East Germany shortly after the wall came down. Talk about your dystopian landscape!

There were a few articles at the time discussing the clean-up costs that West Germany would have to cover. I can’t recall the numbers, but they were in the $billions.

I do recall an article a few years after Germany reunited and it mentioned that a lot of the mess had been cleaned up. I haven’t seen anything recently in the way of how well the mess has been dealt with. Are they done? Is there much to go? I dunno.

Reply to  H.R.
November 8, 2022 6:02 am

As I understand things, there is a divide of sorts to this day between the people of the GDR and the FRG

Last edited 2 months ago by strativarius
Pillage Idiot
Reply to  strativarius
November 8, 2022 6:33 am

Greta talking about the evils of capitalism is yet another example of her appalling lack of education.

The world has run two “economic freedom” experiments that were fairly well designed. West Germany/East Germany and South Korea/North Korea.

In both cases, the environmental degradation of the free market society was at least an order of magnitude LESS than the “enlightened” authoritarian regime.

(Not to mention, the better living conditions, better treatment of the politically disfavored, etc.)

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  strativarius
November 8, 2022 5:54 am

Having lived in rural France where virtually everyone uses woodburners of various ages and specifications and in Derby East Midlands where I’ve done a lot of cycling I can assure the writer in the rag that is the Daily Express that no living room in France came anywhere close to being behind a single bus or HGV stopped at traffic lights.
Although the diesel powered STOR may be approaching having 750 diesel trucks running in a car lorry park

November 8, 2022 2:59 am

Irrespective of anyones politics, Michael Shellenberger appears to say the same thing in “Apocalypse Never”.

Gordon Raboud
November 8, 2022 3:01 am

“We have to stop destroying the environment while trying to save the planet” – Gordon Raboud

November 8, 2022 3:21 am

Matt Ridley always writes sensible articles. Just as Neil Oliver does on youtube:

November 8, 2022 3:40 am

Wood imported from North Carolina???? Wouldn’t make more sense to import coal from West Virginia?

Reply to  Buckeyebob
November 8, 2022 4:06 am

It would make even better sense for us to use the coal under our feet, of which we have several hundred years’ worth, but “they” won’t let us dig it up.

Rod Evans
Reply to  Buckeyebob
November 8, 2022 4:09 am

They could literally just dig down under the DRAX facilities and extract the coal on site, it is that available.
The only problem would be a reduction in CO2 emissions….go figure as they say in the USA

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Rod Evans
November 8, 2022 7:25 am

DRAX is sitting on a coal mine, isn’t it?

R G Heath
November 8, 2022 4:07 am

The UK’s National Trust are just as bad. A recent article in their magazine was one of the most scientifically illiterate I have ever read. All about saving the planet, not the landscape they are entrusted to.

November 8, 2022 5:04 am

If windmills and solar panels actually solved a problem …

The vast expenditure on wind and solar has gone on long enough that we have data. The data says that wind and solar do nothing to reduce CO2 emissions. example

If the purpose were actually to reduce CO2 emissions, the only actual solution would be nuclear.

lee riffee
November 8, 2022 5:20 am

IMO it’s been like this for a long time. I used to actually support many environmental groups when I was a teen and well up into my 20’s. But then I noticed that the focus of these orgs all shifted to (back then as it was known) global warming. I actually used to believe in AGW but then I stepped back and took a hard look and realized that the rat I kept smelling was quite real!
At that point I could no longer put my money and support on these orgs.
They had become like ER doctors obsessing on a patient’s broken ankle while ignoring the open wounds in the patient’s chest while said patient gasps for breath and blood pours out.
Yes, there are pressing environmental issues, but chasing after a trace gas and trying to stop progress like a Luddite isn’t the way to deal with those!

John Bell
November 8, 2022 5:44 am

I would think that instead of massive demonstrations about “climate” all the greenies would band together and have HUGE tree planting conventions, but no, that must be for the little peasants.

November 8, 2022 6:39 am

Once they get rid of 90% of the population, all those problems will go away.

November 8, 2022 9:30 am

I just ran across this. The world’s most potent greenhouse gas, sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), sometimes leaks from wind turbines where it’s used as an insulating gas:

November 8, 2022 9:35 am

The Green Blight.

Dave Andrews
November 8, 2022 9:52 am

Monday. Plant more trees to save the planet say the climate alarmists.

Friday. Cut down 13.9 million trees to make way for wind farms in Scotland and save the planet say the climate alarmists.

Reply to  Dave Andrews
November 8, 2022 2:29 pm

Thursday: Glue yourself to a busy road so a thousand or so cars can sit idling and emitting ‘caaahbon’. Bonus! Surplus population will be reduced if an ambulance or two are caught in the jam and the person being transported dies.

David Hoopman
November 8, 2022 10:50 am

As V. I. Lenin supposedly said, “You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.” The great shame is that it’s considered taboo to ask what’s inside the climate “omelet” being made at such terrible cost. 
Still, it’s not as if the truth has been hidden. The following paragraph is copied verbatim from The Washington Post Magazine, July 10, 2019. Quoted are the then-chief of staff for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (Chakrabarti) and the energy advisor to then-Washington Governor Jay Inslee (Ricketts), who was seeking the Democratic presidential nomination on the premise that he was just the man we needed to forestall impending climate doom:
 “Chakrabarti had an unexpected disclosure. ‘The interesting thing about the Green New Deal,’ he said, ‘is it wasn’t originally a climate thing at all.’ Ricketts greeted this startling notion with an attentive poker face. ‘Do you guys think of it as a climate thing?’ Chakrabarti continued. ‘Because we really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.’”
Once you realize the issue is not and never was Earth’s “climate” (which of the many climates  is never identified,) it’s easier to comprehend how the whole crusade is producing nothing except an environmental and economic train wreck. Those who lead the crusade don’t care (see Lenin,) and those who follow are simply ignorant ninnies who think they’ve found their path to virtue on the cheap.
All of this will eventually end, but not before the crusaders have inflicted godawful destruction.

November 8, 2022 11:57 am

“Environmentalists” are ALL from countries that minimize pollution from economic activity. Every time “Environmentalists” kill a project in the West… it gets moved to the 3rd world where the Environmental impacts are 10 times more devastating and many times longer lasting.

Environmentalists should put themselves in jail and freeze all their assets and impose total censorship on themselves (all the things they would joyfully do and are doing to their opponents) to do the most possible good for the environment.

They are just Power gulping Marxist Globalists pretending to be human beings.

Janice Moore
November 9, 2022 9:59 am

1. Hydropower is an excellent, pro-conservation, power source and the salmon migration is currently well-managed and has been for many years in Washington State, USA (whose methods could be replicated anywhere in the world).

2. Good points are made in this article. See also, Peter Huber’s excellent book, Hard Green.

Last edited 2 months ago by Janice Moore
November 9, 2022 10:37 am

“We had to destroy the village to save it,” a probably apocryphal American general said in Vietnam.”

I doubt that very much.

My understanding is that the Viet Cong regularly destroyed small communities to prevent their interaction with Americans.

November 10, 2022 8:16 pm


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