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Welcome to Matt Ridley's Blog
Matt Ridley is the author of provocative books on evolution, genetics and society. His books have sold over a million copies, been translated into thirty languages, and have won several awards.

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Sucking the oxygen from the room

Has the climate change obsession harmed conservation?

For some time now I have been aware of environmentalists who dislike the way their agendas have been hijacked by climate change. The orthodox view is that climate change is raising the profile of all environmental issues, but is it?

Can it really be easier to raise money for a wildlife conservation project in Madagascar or Galapagos when everybody is saying that the major threat is not habitat loss or invasive species, but slow warming?

Can it really be helpful for bird conservation when green groups take money from wind companies which kill golden eagles?

Can it really be helpful for rainforests when pressure groups support biofuels that then destroy orang utan habitat?

Can it really be helpful for fish and coral conservation when so much money gets spent on ocean acidification instead of overfishing?

I would like to hear from some conservationists who feel this way, even secretly.

Here's a fine essay from the Globe and Mail by Margaret Wente that makes the same point. An extract:

Before they were sucked into the giant vortex of global warming, environmentalists did useful things. They protested against massive Third World dams that would ruin both natural and human habitats. They warned about invasive species and diseases that could tear through our forests and wreck our water systems. They fought for national parks and greenbelts and protected areas. They talked about the big things too - such as how the world could feed another three billion people without destroying all the rain forests and running out of water. They believed in conservation - conserving this beautiful planet of ours from the worst of human despoliation - rather than false claims to scientific certainty about the future, unenforceable treaties and radical utopian social reform.