Skeptical UN IPCC Scientist: ‘The use of fossil fuels has done more to benefit human kind than anything else since the invention of agriculture’

By: - Climate DepotOctober 28, 2009 8:09 AM

UN IPCC Scientist Richard Courtney, a UN IPCC expert reviewer and a UK based atmospheric science consultant, is featured on page 224 of the U.S. Senate Report of More Than 700 Dissenting Scientists Over Man-Made Global Warming. Below is a guest essay by Courtney.

Certainty and Not DoubtBy Richard Courtney

I have certainty and not doubt.

I am certain that constraining the use of fossil fuels would kill billions of people. Holding the use of fossil fuels at its present level would kill at least 2 billion people, mostly children. And reducing the use of fossil fuels below present levels would kill more millions, possibly billions.

That is not an opinion. It is not a prediction. It is not a projection. It is a certain and undeniable fact, and I explain it as follows.

The use of fossil fuels has done more to benefit human kind than anything else since the invention of agriculture.

Most of us would not be here if it were not for the use of fossil fuels because all human activity is enabled by energy supply and limited by material science.

Energy supply enables the growing of crops, the making of tools and their use to mine for minerals, and to build, and to provide goods, and to provide services.

Material Science limits what can be done with the energy. A steel plough share is better than a wooden one. Ability to etch silica permits the making of acceptably reliable computers. etc.

People die without energy and the ability to use it. They die because they lack food, or housing, or clothing to protect from the elements, or heating to survive cold, or cooling to survive heat, or medical provisions, or transport to move goods and services from where they are produced to where they are needed.

And people who lack energy are poor so they die from pollution, too.

For example, traffic pollution has been dramatically reduced by adoption of fossil fuels. On average each day in 1855 more than 50 tons of horse excrement was removed from only one street, Oxford Street in London. The mess, smell, insects and disease were awful everywhere. By 1900 every ceiling of every room in Britain had sticky paper hanging from it to catch the flies. Old buildings still have scrapers by their doors to remove some of the pollution from shoes before entering

Affluence reduces pollution. Rich people can afford sewers, toilets, clean drinking water and clean air. Poor people have more important things they must spend all they have to get. So, people with wealth can afford to reduce pollution but others cannot. Pollution in North America and Europe was greater in 1900 than in 2000 despite much larger populations in 2000. And the pollution now experienced every day by billions who do not have the wealth of Americans and Europeans includes cooking in a mud hut using wood and dung as fuel when they cannot afford a chimney.

The use of fossil fuels has provided that affluence for the developed world. The developing world needs the affluence provided by the development which is only possible at present by using fossil fuels.

We gained our wealth and our population by means of that use.

The energy supply increased immensely when the greater energy intensity in fossil fuels became available by use of the steam engine. Animal power, wind power and solar power were abandoned because the laws of physics do not allow them to provide as much energy as can be easily obtained from using fossil fuels.

The greater energy supply enabled more people to live and the human population exploded. Our population has now reached about 6.6 billion and it is still rising. All estimates are that the human population will peak at about 9 billion people near the middle of this century.

That additional more than 2 billion people in the next few decades needs additional energy supply to survive. The only methods to provide that additional energy supply at present are nuclear power and fossil fuels. And the use of nuclear power is limited because some activities are difficult to achieve by getting energy from the end of a wire. (If anybody doubts this then I tell them to ask a farmer what his production would be if he had to replace his tractor with a horse or a Sinclair C5).

So, holding the use of fossil fuels at its present level would kill at least 2 billion people, mostly children. And reducing the use of fossil fuels would kill more millions, possibly billions.

Improving energy efficiency will not solve that because it has been known since the nineteenth century that improved energy efficiency increases energy use: as many subsequent studies have confirmed.

Related Links:

Flashback 2002: U.S. Environmentalist Laments Introduction of Electricity in Africa

Flashback 2002: Jerry Brown says ‘it’s not viable’ for poverty stricken developing world to emulate prosperity of U.S.

Ugandan Activist: ‘African life span is lower than it was in U.S. and Europe 100 years ago. But Africans told we shouldn’t develop’ because wealthy Western nations are ‘worried about global warming’: Excerpt: ‘Telling Africans they can’t have electricity and economic development – is immoral’

Flashback 2003: S. African Activist: Poor countries should just say: ‘Go to hell’ to Wealthy Western Nations: ‘If you don’t want us to fill in our wetlands, then you bomb your big cities like Washington, a third of Holland and Rotterdam and so on, and restore them to being swamps’

Flashback 2002: UN Earth Summit’s Failure Called ‘Good Thing’ For Poor Nations: Excerpt: The first world became rich without the IMFs and World Banks, and the less of them that are around, the more likely the Third World is to do the same.”

It is a moral issue! – ‘People cannot cook’…Chad’s Global Warming Inspired Ban on Charcoal leads to ‘Desperate’ Families! – January 16, 2009

Poor Kenyans rebel as UK grocery store’s “carbon friendly” policies may stop food exports

India: ‘It is morally wrong for us to reduce emissions when 40% of Indians do not have access to electricity’

Report: ‘Green, UN, rich nation and African elites impose deadly anti-development colonialism’ – June 8, 2009

Greenpeace Leader: There is urgent need for the suppression of economic growth in U.S…’Lifestyle of the rich in the world is not a sustainable model’ – August 20, 2009

Flashback 2002: Average American Lifestyle Called “Total Bull—t” by Environmentalist – Excerpt: ‘If anyone in a developing country looks to the U.S. and wants a lifestyle like the average American–it’s total bull—t!’

Gore: U.S. Climate Bill Will Help Bring About ‘Global Governance’ – July 10, 2009

Former EU Environment Minister Margot Wallstrom: ‘Kyoto is about the economy, about leveling the playing field for big businesses worldwide’

‘Climate Justice…the underlying principle for global equity’

Canadian Prime Minster Stephen Harper once dismissed UN’s Kyoto Protocol as a ‘socialist scheme’

Flashback 2000: Actor Chevy Chase Says ‘Socialism Works’ — ‘Cuba might prove that’

Black clergymen protest Robert Redford ‘link his environmentalism to racism’

Obama Advisor Warren Buffett ‘repeats criticism of cap and trade, saying it would be a huge, regressive tax’

Wash. Post’s Moment of Clarity: In Poorer Nations, Energy Needs Trump Climate Issues – September 9, 2009 – Excerpt: Millions of people are eager to buy their first washing machines, refrigerators and air conditioners…dearth of power hinders prosperity. […] Some environmentalists see a chance for Asian and African countries to take the lead in developing renewable energy technologies such as solar and wind power, bypassing Western energy models based largely on coal and oil. But many economic experts here are doubtful that will happen. “The United States and Europe have had the energy they needed to grow and develop,” said William Bissell, a prominent Indian entrepreneur and author of “Making India Work.” “But we haven’t had our 21st century yet.”