Six-and-a-half billion reasons to be cheerful
Arvamus 06 Jun 2010  EWR
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Matt Ridley, author of The Rational Optimist, tells spiked why eco-catastrophists are so wrong about humans and our impact on the planet.
Tim Black, Spiked


Never has catastrophe seemed so mundane. The end, we are told, is always approaching. No sooner has one super-resilient-flesh-eating-virus been forgotten than an imminent ecological collapse or a new strain of influenza takes it place. All of which makes Matt Ridley – journalist, businessman and author of several books on genetics and biology – such a refreshing person to talk to. ‘Yes, we are too gloomy about the future’, he says, cheerily.

That’s the thing about Ridley: whatever else he is – diffident, humorous, engaging – he is also resolutely optimistic. And it is this, his optimism, which he has sought to justify, to rationalise, in his new book The Rational Optimist. Given today’s readiness to imagine the apocalypse, especially in environmental terms, being an optimist is a very unfashionable position to take.

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