Pragmatic Environmentalist of New York Principle 9: Ridley’s Paradox

For pragmatic environmentalists Riley’s Paradox describes a fundamental concern relative to climate change policy: Economic damage from man-made ‘climate change’ is illusory whereas damage from man-made ‘policies’ to fight the said change is real.

I ran across this principle at Climate Scepticism where Paul Matthews posted a summary of former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott speech at the Global Warming Policy Foundation.  Prime Minister Abbott’s speech “Daring to Doubt” described climate science with a skeptical viewpoint then went on to talk about climate policy with an emphasis on Australia. He said:

In what might be described as Ridley’s paradox, after the distinguished British commentator: at least so far, it’s climate change policy that’s doing harm; climate change itself is probably doing good; or at least, more good than harm.

Matt Ridley is a British scientist, columnist, and author of several award winning books, including the Rational Optimist. I have admired his writings for a long time. He recently posted on this issue noting that climate policies are doing more harm than good and that is a moral issue. Please read his post because he explains the problem better than I can. He lists ten climate policies that are doing more harm than good.

  1. Ethanol subsidies
  2. Biodiesel programs
  3. Promotion of diesel cars
  4. Burning pellets derived from wood products
  5. Wind power
  6. Solar farms
  7. Only renewables policies
  8. Fuel poverty
  9. High energy costs
  10. The neglect of more serious environmental problems

Richard Tol also has written about this paradox. He notes that “Politically correct climate change orthodoxy has completely destroyed our ability to think rationally about the environment.”

Finally, I want to acknowledge Shub Niggurath for the definition I used of Riley’s Paradox.


Author: rogercaiazza

I am a meteorologist (BS and MS degrees), was certified as a consulting meteorologist and have worked in the air quality industry for over 40 years. Originally I worked for consultants doing air quality modeling work for EPA and then went to work with electric utilities where I was responsible for compliance reporting and analyzed the impact and efficacy of air quality regulations. I retired from working for one utility company full-time in 2010 and then worked part-time for most of the New York utility companies as the Director of an environmental trade association until my full retirement at the end of 2016. Environmental staff in any industry have to be pragmatic balancing risks and benefits and I hope my blog ( reflects that outlook. Jokingly our job description is to bring the companies we represent to the table so that they are not on the menu. Any of my comments on the web or posts on my blog are my opinion only. In no way do they reflect the position of any of my past employers or any company I was associated with.

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