The Matt Ridley Prize for Environmental Heresy

I should start this post with my usual boilerplate disclaimer when discussing environmental issues: I live in Cambridge, I ride my bike everywhere, I am concerned about global warming, but more concerned about issues to do with water (both drinking, and the kind that is losing all of its fish).

But I find most of the things people like to propose as ways of solving our problems, like high-speed trains, wind generators, and electric cars, are kind of...silly. There is no way a dollar spent on any of those things generates anything like a dollar's worth of value. They have a vaguely cargo cultish feel to them: useless rituals performed by people who do not understand the real means of production. Wind towers are really just fancy statues of John Frum. These things will bring us Green Cargo.

Well, I started to tell you about how, really, I was one of the great and the good, and now I've gotten all Copenhagen Consensus on you, which just demonstrates my unreliability. You now suspect I am in the pocket of the Heartland Institute.

So, with that preparation, via Knowledge Problem, a notice that the U.K. magazine Spectator has announced the Matt Ridley Prize for Environmental Heresy: a  £8500 prize for the best 1,000 to 2,000 word essay the makes

the most brilliant and rational argument — that uses reason and evidence — to gore a sacred cow of the environmental movement. There are many to choose from: the idea that wind power is good for the climate, or that biofuels are good for the rain forest, or that organic farming is good for the planet, or that climate change is a bigger extinction threat than invasive species, or that the most sustainable thing we can do is de-industrialise.

Over $13,000 by today's exchange rate. That's midlist novel advance-level money!

BTW, now you know why midlist authors are pathetic.

I like Matt Ridley's science journalism, and it's a challenge worth taking up. Entries close June 30, 2012.