The Greentrashing* Of Matt Ridley

  • Date: 22/10/16
  • Geoff Chambers, Climate Scepticims

The press reaction to the annual GWPF lecture delivered by Matt Ridley at the Royal Society illustrates perfectly the insanity of the current state of discussion of climate change and all things environmental.

The rationally optimistic anti-green message transmitted by Ridley’s paper is derived entirely from the research conducted by Professor Ranga Myneni of Boston University, who has been publishing papers on detection of global vegetation cover since 1985. Matt Ridley has been writing about his work for two or three years. Four years after Professor Myneni first announced (in an informal presentation) that the world was greening due to anthropogenic causes (mainly directly attributed to increased CO2, but also to warming and increased precipitation) his results finally appeared in the scientific press in the form of aletter to Nature Climate Change (Zhu et al 2016) in April this year.

This is obviously hugely important news if true, and in the past four years, only one scientifically qualified journalist in the world seems to have noticed it – Matt Ridley. With hundreds of journals employing specialist environment correspondents, and thousands of green blogs run by activists, think tanks, political parties, renewable energy companies, charities, energy consultants, public relations experts, conscence-stricken millionaires and whatnot, you’d think someone would be interested in the unexpected appearance of a blob of greenery twice the size of the USA. Apparently not. All recent press interest has focussed, not on the state of the environment, but the state of mind of Matt Ridley.

I turned to Google to test world reaction to the scientific bombshell represented by Zhu et al 2016. Unfortunately there are many many Dr Zhus and Professor Zhus, so I tried googling “Professor Myneni” instead, and turned up just one hit in news outlets: an article attacking a different paper from the GWPF by the Guardian’s Dana Nuccitelli from a year ago which quotes Professor Myneni as saying:

If one were to interpret the greening of the Earth as a good or a positive development then one must also accept that the accompanying climate changes (global warming, for example) and its physical (sea level rise) and biotic impacts (polar bears) as bad or negative developments. Again, in my opinion, this benefit of greening is not worth price of all the negative changes.

You get the gist. Too much greenery is bad for polar bears.

Googling “Ranga Myneni” turns up 67 mentions in news outlets in the past four years, thirty of them in English (and some of those from Chinese, or German media.) An analysis of them all shouldn’t be too difficult, and I may have a go. To give a flavour, the top mention this morning was an article entitled: “We’re Fertilizing the Heck Out of Our Planet and That’s a Bad Thing”, but there are supportive articles too, by Delingpole at Breitbart, and Ridley himself at the Spectator.

However, on a quick scan, most of the articles seem to be devoted either to attacking Ridley or to warning us that a flourishing green environment is not necessarily good for the environment.

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