Professor Matt Ridley explains some basics about just why we should not be in fear of "man-made" climate change. Speech was at the Royal Society, UK on the 17th October, 2016.
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Listening to the news or hyperlinking our way through blog posts, it might seem like the end is nigh. Whether the coming crisis is environmental, economic or some intoxicating mix of the two, the message is always basically the same: humanity is about to screw everything up…forever!
As Matt Ridley reveals in his 2010 prize-winning, bestseller The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves this eternal pessimism has more to do with human psychology than it does with the facts of the situation. Throughout history, there have always been professional harbingers of doom. In the old days, doomsdayers predicted man’s greed and lust would bring about divine retribution. These days, we’re treated to the idea that we might bring about our own destruction because of our relentless pursuit of wealth. In our desire for more food, bigger cars and a more comfortable lifestyle, we will use up all the oil, overheat the planet, pollute the oceans and wipe out all the polar bears. Notice any similarities? Man gratifies his desires…and is punished.
While the apocalyptic scenarios on the nightly news might feel plausible, the facts say something very different: the future has never looked more promising. More and more people are being lifted out of poverty. The environment is improving. And all of this is due to the very technologies we’re supposed to fear: pesticides, fertilizers, fracking and genetic engineering. Pessimism may feel reasonable, but optimism is what’s rational. The Rational Optimist is a tour de force that not only restores your faith in the future, its overview of man’s relentless ability to solve problems makes you proud to be human. Perhaps that’s why Michael Callen references it all the time.
In this episode, Matt, Bryan and Hunter discuss everything from why organic farming is bad for the environment to how the 2008 financial crisis refined Matt’s view on the proper role of government in the economy. (Note: Matt Ridley was Chairman of Northern Rock, one of Britain’s largest banks at the time.)
Before writing The Rational Optimist, Matt Ridley got a doctorate in Zoology from Oxford and wrote five books on biology: The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature, The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation, Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters, Nature via Nurture: Genes, Experience, & What Makes Us Human and Francis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Code. In case you’re wondering, these were all bestsellers and also won lots of prizes.
Our planet’s biodiversity comes from the adaptation of sexual reproduction — the ability to recombine the DNA of two parents into a wholly unique organism. Science writer Matt Ridley says that ideas reproduce just like the humans who think them up.
Award-winning zoologist, science writer and author Dr Matt Ridley (UK) delivers the keynote address at the University of Melbourne’s Festival of Ideas 2011. In it he explains how genes, culture and technology evolve to drive human innovation. Ridley has published articles and reviews in The Times, Guardian, Times Literary Supplement, Literary Review, New Scientist, Prospect, New Statesman, Time, Newsweek, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Atlantic Monthly and The Economist, and written more than 10 books.
Presented by University of Melbourne, July 2011
Everything’s going to Hell in a handbasket! Or is it?
Not according to Matt Ridley. Ridley takes a long-term view of humanity’s past to project a deeply optimistic view of our future. This program was recorded in collaboration with the Long Now Foundation, on March 22, 2011.
This program contains visual aids. A complete video version is available at: http://fora.tv/2011/03/22/Matt_Ridley_Deep_Optimism
Via trade and other cultural activities, "ideas have sex," and that drives human history in the direction of inconstant but accumulative improvement over time. The criers of havoc keep being proved wrong. A fundamental optimism about human affairs is deeply rational and can be reliably conjured with.
Trained at Oxford as a zoologist and an editor at The Economist for eight years, Matt Ridley’s newest book is The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves. His earlier works include Francis Crick; Nature via Nurture; Genome; and The Origins of Virtue.
Matt Ridley’s books have sold over 800,000 copies, been translated into 27 languages and been short-listed for six literary prizes. In 2004 he won the National Academies Book Award from the US National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine for Nature via Nurture.
He is married to the neuroscientist Professor Anya Hurlbert. They have two children and live at Blagdon near Newcastle upon Tyne.
With our economy a shambles and our environment threatened, is there any reason to be optimistic about the future? Matt Ridley says there’s scientific proof to say we should be.
Here’s an article from Matt Ridley on the same subject: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703691804575254533386933138.html#printMode