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.
- Ethanol subsidies
- Biodiesel programs
- Promotion of diesel cars
- Burning pellets derived from wood products
- Wind power
- Solar farms
- Only renewables policies
- Fuel poverty
- High energy costs
- 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.