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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Here's a version of the article I published in the Financial Post this
week with added links:
The debate over climate change is horribly polarized. From the
way it is conducted, you would think that only two positions are
possible: that the whole thing is a hoax or that catastrophe is
inevitable. In fact there is room for lots of intermediate
positions, including the view I hold, which is that man-made
climate change is real but not likely to do much harm, let alone
prove to be the greatest crisis facing humankind this century.
My Times column was on when property rights are too strong; though in other cases they are too weak.
The government is consulting on whether to amend the law so that you cannot stop a gas or geothermal company from drilling a horizontal well a mile beneath your house, though you can get paid for it. Lord Jenkin of Roding last week pointed out that, under the common law, ownership of your plot reaches “up to Heaven and down to Hades”. Is the government justified in weakening this aspect of your property rights below a depth of 300 metres?
My Times column on inequality:
There was a row last week between the “rock star economist” Thomas Piketty and Chris Giles of theFinancial Times over statistics on inequalities in wealth — in this country in particular. When the dust settled, the upshot seemed to be that in Britain wealth inequality probably did inch up between 1980 and 2010, but not by as much as Piketty had claimed, though it depends on which data sets you trust.
Well, knock me down with a feather. You mean to say that during three decades when the government encouraged asset bubbles in house prices; gave tax breaks to pensions; lightly taxed wealthy non-doms; poured money into farm subsidies; and severely restricted the supply of land for housing, pushing up the premium earned by planning permission for development, the wealthy owners of capital saw their relative wealth increase slightly? Well, I’ll be damned.
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