Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

“The remarkable thing about fossil fuels,” says science writer Matt Ridley, “is that when we use them, no other animal is deprived of its livelihood.”

In a fascinating talk, Ridley, the author of The Rational Optimist and other brilliant, eye-opening books, calls our attention to what really should be an obvious fact: “No other animal [than us Homo sapiens sapiens] wants to eat coal, or oil, or gas.” But, he insists, when we fell a tree for our fuel, “we deprive a woodpecker of its life.”

This helps explain why, in so much of the world, animal species are coming back, their populations growing. They are renewing because of our use of non-renewable energy. (Renewable energy, he says, is quite bad for the ecosystem.)

But that’s just one reason burning fossil fuels is a good thing. Another is increased carbon dioxide (CO2).

“What?!?!” — I can hear the enviro-shrieks from here in my bunker. This weekend there were protests around the world about climate change.

But climate change may be a good thing.

Well, at least, the planet is getting greener. The Sahara’s getting greener. Much of the world’s landmasses are re-foresting — that’s even happening in Bangladesh.

I read about widespread reforestation in The Atlantic years ago. I’ve written about this and other greening before. But the reason isn’t simply because our fossil fuel reliance has made agriculture more efficient, thus requiring less land — that disused land can then grow wild, or cultivate non-agribiz plantlife. It’s also because CO2 feeds plants.

The Amazon, Ridley says, is greener than it was mere years ago.

Could later industrial civilization be saving the planet from the depredations of earlier industrial civilization?


This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. Rick says:

    I remember reading several years ago that flower growers in England used to pump CO2 into greenhouses in order to produce bigger blooms & bigger foliage. I don’t think they do that now because of cost but the point is the more CO2 available, the quicker & bigger the plant growth. So i have always thought the planet had a greater self-correcting mechanism than the “scientists” realized.

  2. Rick: Serious indoor marijuana growers do this routinely.

  3. Brian Wright says:

    Spoken like a true Randian smokestack-hugging fossil-fuels cartelbot. And I love how you throw in that burning trees is a strong example of renewable energy! You truly put some serious straw in the straw man, Paul. But not to tilt at dinosaur windmills, I think it’s best to examine and encourage so-called New Energy (or at least not to have the feds viciously suppress it)–per,, and whatever Dan Nocera is doing now (

    These new and conceivably quite imminent technologies can obviate the whole argument of whether we should all LOVE the smell of CO2 in the morning. 🙂

  4. Rick says:

    Mark, serioius BLUSH here! Used to be more up on that subject!

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