Greening the planet with fossil fuels

It’s widely agreed that burning petroleum and other hydrocarbons is steadily increasing the atmospheric level of carbon dioxide. There are suspicions there could be other causes, because the rise in CO2 doesn’t reflect the hydrocarbon usage curve, which shows a lot more variability. But, still, the conventional opinion deprecates the use of “fossil” fuels because increased CO2 will cause dangerous climatic changes (global warming). However one also reads that more CO2 is making the Earth greener — more CO2 means plants are growing faster and larger. This article by Matt Ridley in the WSJ a week ago (rerun at GWPF) mentions two further reasons to thank the use of hydrocarbons — it saves trees and gentle warming boosts plant growth. — Richard Treadgold

How Fossil Fuels Have Greened The Planet

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This is an adopted article.

Did you know that the Earth is getting greener, quite literally? Satellites are now confirming that the amount of green vegetation on the planet has been increasing for three decades. This will be news to those accustomed to alarming tales about deforestation, over-development and ecosystem destruction.

This possibility was first suspected in 1985 by Charles Keeling, the scientist whose meticulous record of the content of the air atop Mauna Loa in Hawaii first alerted the world to the increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Continue Reading →

Ridley warms heretical hearts

Everyone loves well-crafted prose, even when the author of it opposes their point of view. So it is with Matt Ridley, well-known author of The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves, in less than a week earning nearly 9000 Google hits on his “Scientific heresy” address to the Royal Society of the Arts in Edinburgh on 31 October, posted at Bishop Hill. Even alarmist Gareth Renowden appreciates Ridley’s wordcraft before scorning his so-called climate science.

Ridley’s given us an admirable piece of work on several levels. His writing is a pleasure to read, he gives good information and clearly sets out his thinking on a tour of the weaknesses in the current alarmist view of the global climate. In doing so he warms the cockles of sceptical hearts everywhere while enraging the alarmists with his “well-known sceptic tropes”. That’s the view according to Renowden. Poor things; claiming emptiness for Ridley’s contentions is a flaccid stand-in for a cogent rebuttal.

Ridley concludes that science “needs heretics” and one can appreciate the radical point that even heretics should be heard. But he leaves unstated his crucial implication that evidence elevates the climate “heretic” above all the cereologists, astrologers and eugenicists in history, while true heretics need no evidence.

Here’s his address, copied from Bishop Hill with appreciation and thanks. I also repost the document Mr Montford prepared, with its helpful diagrams (pdf, 1865KB).


Matt Ridley

Scientific heresy

by Matt Ridley

It is a great honour to be asked to deliver the Angus Millar lecture.

I have no idea whether Angus Millar ever saw himself as a heretic, but I have a soft spot for heresy. One of my ancestral relations, Nicholas Ridley* the Oxford martyr, was burned at the stake for heresy.

My topic today is scientific heresy. When are scientific heretics right and when are they mad? How do you tell the difference between science and pseudoscience?

Let us run through some issues, starting with the easy ones.

Astronomy is a science; astrology is a pseudoscience.

Evolution is science; creationism is pseudoscience.

Molecular biology is science; homeopathy is pseudoscience.

Vaccination is science; the MMR scare is pseudoscience.

Oxygen is science; phlogiston was pseudoscience.

Chemistry is science; alchemy was pseudoscience.

Are you with me so far? Continue Reading →

Climate panel must be purged

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by Matt Ridley of The Times
September 04, 2010, 12:00 noon

After years of darkness, there are signs of light returning both to climate science and the mainstream media! What is instinctively unacceptable in one (uncontaminated) scientific realm is at last observed as being practically the rule in the (deeply flawed) realm of climate science. (How NZ climate scientists can continue to pretend that the practice of their science has not been besmirched and remains beyond reproach is a mystery.) In this story we hear that a scientific inquiry actually does its job properly, The Times begins to stir and a real journalist concludes we don’t need a neck tourniquet for a nose bleed. Fascinating!
    – Richard Treadgold

Here’s the full story: Continue Reading →