Yesterday we were delighted to host innovation speaker Matt Ridley for lunch at our offices. As well as filling us in on his plans for 2016, Matt also shared his experiences from his fascinating recent visit to South Georgia, courtesy of the island’s government.
Matt explained that during summer months, South Georgia is a haven for wildlife; millions of seals and penguins scramble for real-estate on its beaches, the hills and cliffs come alive with over 50 million albatross visitors, and whales can be seen once again circling the coastlines. These sights are a result of years of tinkering with economic incentives and regulating sealing, whaling and fishing.
A few years ago the outlook was very different. An infestation of rats and reindeer – introduced by sailors over a century ago – was threatening the whole ecosystem. With a combination of private and public enterprise, South Georgia set about removing every single rat and reindeer from their island. Using an innovative combination of poison, helicopters and specially trained pilots, they were able to remove all signs of the rats in just a few of years.
This episode, Matt explained, is a reminder that wild life preservation is not just a matter of providing legal protection. As well as economic incentives and regulation, intervention is also required to remove unwanted intruders – “we have a duty to undo what we have done wrong in the past”. To read Matt’s recent article on his South Georgian adventure, CLICK HERE
Last year Matt was also invited to speak at Canada’s prestigious Munk Debates. Here is a clip of Matt alongside Stephen Pinker taking on Malcolm Gladwell and Alain de Button in an enthralling debate on progress. To watch the full debate, CLICK HERE