I have long enjoyed the writing of Matt Ridley. He has a science background, but despite that, can actually write well – in a clear, concise and, yet engaging, not dry, fashion. As importantly, he cover’s topics that I’ve been interested in, science topics, including, sociobiology (and its more recent variant evolutionary psychology), genes and evolution. Recently he’s turned his critical eye toward the topic of human caused climate change. Ridley stresses that he is not a denier but rather, in his own words:
“The problem is that you can accept all the basic tenets of greenhouse physics and still conclude that the threat of a dangerously large warming is so improbable as to be negligible, while the threat of real harm from climate-mitigation policies is already so high as to be worrying, that the cure is proving far worse than the disease is ever likely to be. Or as I put it once, we may be putting a tourniquet round our necks to stop a nosebleed.”
In a couple of columns in recent weekend editions of the Wall Street Journal, Ridley has examined a couple of interesting topics in the climate change field: the acidification of the Oceans and the death of corals; whence the next ice age.
In one article, Ridley examines mounting evidence that present trends in ocean alkalinity, a slow reduction well within range of natural variability – historically not a harmful variation — is a modest threat to the world’s coral reefs. Rather than human caused climate change, overfishing – and the technologies used to fish – along with pollution, are the chief and most pressing causes in the decline of corals and associated species.
In the second article, Ridley examines a recent paper from researchers at Universities in Cambridge, London and Florida. That paper argued that human greenhouse gas emissions may avert the next expected ice age – which would be unmitigated good news – however, according to the paper, maybe not. Indeed, they expect the next ice age to come, regardless of human actions, within about 1,500 years. Interesting stuff – policy implications anyone?