DeBunked: Matt Ridley on Nature and Climate Change

We correct the Global Warming Policy Foundation advisor’s claims about walruses and arctic sea ice.
Matt Ridley. Credit: Augustas Didžgalvis, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

First posted on Twitter on 12 January 2023

Author Matt Ridley made several misleading claims in The Times and Daily Mail about climate change impacts. Here’s the evidence for why he’s wrong – and more on his record of downplaying climate change.

Matt Ridley claimed in The Times that walruses are “thriving” and dismissed as “nonsense” the idea climate change affects walrus migration. In fact walruses are classed “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list of threatened species due to melting sea ice.

Matt Ridley also cherry picked data to make the misleading claim that “arctic sea ice has declined hardly at all in winter since 2002” and by “20 percent in late summer”. In fact, analysis shows a downward trend since 1979 for all months of the year.

In the Daily Mail, Ridley claimed nature and wildlife are doing well despite “doom and gloom” about climate change In fact, climate change and extreme weather are “drastically impacting nature”, according to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). And 2C warming is predicted to put 18 percent of land species at risk of extinction by 2100.

Matt Ridley has a record of making misleading claims about climate change. Last year he wrote that global warming is “mostly beneficial” and “climate change is creating a greener, safer planet”. In another article he called the UK’s net zero target “madness”.

Matt Ridley is an advisor to the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF). The GWPF and its Net Zero Watch campaign reject climate science, call for more fossil fuels (including coal), work with MPs to oppose net zero, and call for a wind and solar energy phase-out.

Matt Ridley’s record of climate science denial and links to GWPF are not mentioned to readers when he contributes to mainstream media outlets in print or broadcast, which he does quite a lot. We hope this thread helps redress this. For more see Ridley’s DeSmog profile.

This blog is part of our DeBunk pilot project. You can read more about the project here.