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Prof. Roger Pielke Jr. in Financial Times: Climate activists ‘promote green imperialism that helps lock in poverty’ – ‘Climate policy robs the world’s poor of their hopes’

February 26, 2014 6:59 pm
Climate policy robs the world’s poor of their hopes
By Roger Pielke and Daniel Sarewitz
We need technologies that work in the US and in Pakistan, say Roger Pielke and Daniel Sarewitz

Selected Excerpts:

In Nigeria, the UN Development Programme is spending $10m to help “improve the energy efficiency of a series of end-use equipment . . .in residential and public buildings”. As a way of lifting people out of poverty, this is fanciful at best. Nigeria is the world’s sixth-largest oil exporter, with vast reserves of natural gas as well. Yet 80m of its people lack access to electricity.

Or consider Pakistan, where energy shortages in a rapidly growing nation of 180m have led to civil unrest – as well as rampant destruction of forests, mostly to provide firewood for cooking and heating. Western development agencies have refused to finance a project to use Pakistan’s Thar coal deposits for low-carbon natural gas production and electricity generation because of concerns over carbon emissions.

Half a world away, Germany is building 10 new coal plants over the next two years. These examples emerge from a larger, uglier background: a widely shared assumption that poor nations need not aspire to the sort of energy consumption seen in North America, western Europe and other wealthy regions. For example, the World Bank’s action plan for energy access fails to foresee that residents of a poor nation such as Chad might eventually aspire to use more than, say, a 10th of the energy consumption enjoyed by a middle-income nation such as Bulgaria.

Aspirations are critical here. If two lightbulbs, a fan and a radio are the goal – a standard measure of “energy access” used by the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative – then a couple of solar panels or windmills might do the job. But if the rapidly urbanising poor are to have any chance of prosperity, they need access to energy on the same scale as all modern economies. Climate activists warn that the inhabitants of poor countries are especially vulnerable to the future climate changes that our greenhouse gas emissions will cause. Why then, do they simultaneously promote the green imperialism that helps lock in the poverty that makes these countries so vulnerable?

If, in coming decades, Africa was to achieve rapid economic growth of the kind that China has experienced, it would lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. But as the rich world can attest, economic growth both requires energy consumption and leads to more of it – most of which must be provided by fossil fuels.

Last year China’s 1.4bn people were responsible for more than 10bn tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, while the 1bn people on the entire African continent emitted just a 10th of that amount. Africa’s population could exceed China’s within a decade; it could be double China’s by the middle of the century. The prospects of these billions of people depend in large part on growth in their energy production and consumption.

Nations such as China and Brazil have big aspirations. They have not accepted a future without fossil fuels. If we are to reduce emissions without condemning vast swaths of humanity to unending poverty, we will have to develop inexpensive, low-carbon energy technologies that are as appropriate for the US and Bulgaria as they are for Nigeria and Pakistan. Even this will involve sacrifice; it will require an investment of significant resources over many decades.

Until these technologies are brought to fruition, we must work with what we have. We in the rich world have chosen economic growth over emissions reductions. It is cruelly hypocritical of us to prevent poor countries from growing, too. If we are forced to adapt to life on a planet with a less hospitable climate, the poor should at least confront the challenge with the same advantages that are enjoyed by the rich.

The writers are, respectively, professors at the University of Colorado and Arizona State University


Related Links: 

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

World Bank denies electricity to energy poor: Abandons coal plant financing except for ‘rare circumstances’

S. African activist slams UN’s ‘Green Climate Fund’: ‘Government to govt aid is a reward for being better than anyone else at causing poverty’ — ‘It enriches the people who cause poverty’ – ‘The UN is saying to poor countries: ‘Those of you who adopt more anti-prosperity, anti- jobs, and anti-growth policies — under the pretense of environmentalism — we will enrich you”

Bjorn Lomborg in NYT: ‘The Poor Need Cheap Fossil Fuels’ – More than 1.2 billion people around the world have no access to electricity, according to the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook for 2012. Most of them live in sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia. That is nearly four times the number of people who live in the United States. – Today, 81 percent of the planet’s energy needs are met by fossil fuels, and according to the International Energy Agency, that percentage will be almost as high in 2035 under current policies, when consumption will be much greater. – 

Obama supports denying energy to poor Africans! ‘The Obama administration announced recently, for instance, that it would no longer contribute to the construction of coal-fired power plants financed by the World Bank and other international development banks.’ 

‘1.2 billion people rely on wood, dung & crop waste to cook and heat. 3.5 million die from indoor air pollution each year’

UN IPCC lead author Dr. Richard Tol: ‘We’re now learning that the climate problem may not be as bad as we thought’

Tol also mocks climate ‘reparations’: ‘Poor countries are responsible for bulk of future emissions — will [they] pay climate reparations to rich countries?’

Climatologist Dr. Patrick Michaels: ‘The fossil-fuel powered industrial democracies have seen a 100% increase in life expectancy since 1900.  Doubling the lifetime of, say, a billion people is equivalent to saving 500 million lives. Our opponents ignore this VERY inconvenient truth.’ – Michaels is Director, Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute

Graph of the Day: Africa Power Needs: ‘The demand for electricity is going to be significantly greater than the modest targets currently envisioned by the international community’

Graph of the Day: Africa Power Needs: ‘The demand for electricity is going to be significantly greater than the modest targets currently envisioned by the international community’

Obama anti-coal policy to keep global poor in dark: ‘The world’s richest nations, moving to combat global warming, are cutting government support for new coal-burning power plants in developing countries, dealing a blow to the world’s dominant source of electricity’

Analysis: ‘NO… Poor countries can’t bypass fossil fuels like they bypassed land lines for cell phone’ – ‘But unless poor people don’t need electricity at night or when the wind isn’t blowing, and unless they can afford high-priced electricity sources like wind and solar (which only exist in developed countries where they are significantly subsidized), then fossil fuels are not bypassable like land lines were.’

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Alex Epstein on Fox with John Stossel: Epstein is president of the Center for Industrial Progress: ‘The fossil fuel industry is not taking a safe climate and making it dangerous. They are taking a dangerous climate and making it safe. Anyone who contradicts me should try to go outside right now (in brutal cold) and live naturally in harmony with nature.’ 

‘It’s not noble to use less energy, that is like saying its noble to have less money. No. You might misuse energy, you might be inefficient — but more is always better because energy has the capacity to be productive.’

‘I admire the natural gas industry, and I admire the oil industry and the coal industry because this is the only industry in the world that produces cheap plentiful reliable energy on a global scale. So these are the guys that are allowing us to be comfortable in a studio when its freezing outside, they make it possible for us to have clean water, to do what we want in life, to have time to do scientific research. Its amazing. So that is why i have a pin here that says ‘I Love Fossil Fuels.’

Obama Proposes Poverty As A Way To Keep The Planet From ‘Boiling Over’ – Obama: ‘Ultimately, if you think about all the youth that everybody has mentioned here in Africa, if everybody is raising living standards to the point where everybody has got a car and everybody has got air conditioning, and everybody has got a big house, well, the planet will boil over — unless we find new ways of producing energy’

In an insane attempt to prevent CO2-induced bad weather, World Bank acts to make poor people’s energy more expensive – World Bank plans to limit financing of coal-fired power plants: ‘The World Bank plans to limit the financing it provides for coal-fired power plants to “rare circumstances” as part of the global financial body’s efforts to address the impact of climate change’

Obama ban on foreign aid for coal plants would leave poor without energy

On the Royal Society Publishing website: ‘Dangerous climate change can only be avoided if economic growth is exchanged for a period of planned austerity’

Flashback 2009 — Other warmists proposed same ideas! ‘Planned recession’ could avoid catastrophic climate change 

Warmist David Appell: ‘Carbon Bubbles — Who’s Kidding Who?’: ‘No renewables are anywhere near providing the lifestyle we want, and it’s far from clear than any can’ – ‘So Bill McKibben can organize all he wants — while, of course, flying anywhere he needs to fly to at a moment’s notice — and there’s no point pretending otherwise’

‘Sinister’ Technology: Big brother to switch off your fridge ‘without warning or consent’ — ‘Computer chips will take control of home appliances when energy is low’

Flashback 2009: NYT: California Seeks Home Thermostat Control – Excerpt: The conceit in the 1960s show “The Outer Limits” was that outside forces had taken control of your television set. California, state regulators are likely to have the emergency power to control individual thermostats, sending temperatures up or down through a radio-controlled device.

Flashback 2009: Eco-Nanny Pelosi: ‘Every aspect of our lives must be subjected to an inventory’

Carbon based energy saves kids! ‘Half of children perish in pre-industrial societies. Take your pick: a bucolic, green fantasy world – or one that’s safe for kids’ – ‘What we modern, pampered, technologically blessed, First World inhabitants have forgotten is that child deaths were once commonplace…n 1762, Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Emile appeared. It contained these lines: ‘ One half of the children who are born die before their eighth year…This is nature’s law; why contradict it?’

Warmist Bill McKibben endorses this statement: ‘The reason that you want another coal terminal is that you are f*cking greedy.’ — McKibben: ‘Um, seems about right’

Climate Depot Response: ‘Coal and other carbon based forms of energy have been one of the greatest liberators of mankind in the history of our planet. Is it greedy to want heat, A/C, lower infant mortality, longer life expectancy? Coal is the moral choice.’

Prof. Piekle Jr.: How Fast Does Energy Access Occur? ‘In 1920, only 35% of Americans had electricity access. This total reached 100% by the mid-1950s’

‘China went from 35% in 1970 to 100% by about 2005-a similar rate to that of the U.S. a half-century earlier’

‘Mexico was at about 35% electricity access in 1930, and has yet to get all the way to the 100% mark’

‘India is following a much shallower trajectory of electricity access, going from about 25% in 1980 to 65% in 2010’

6 in 10 people worldwide lack access to flush toilets or other adequate sanitation – ‘The research, published in ACS’ journal Environmental Science & Technology, says the number of people without access to improved sanitation is almost double the previous estimate…2010 UN estimates concluded 4.3 billion people had access to improved sanitation and 2.6 billion did not’ — ‘About 60% of the world’s population does not have access to improved sanitation, up from the previous estimate of 38%’

Global map of planned coal fired capacity tells a story: ‘This Map tells us pretty clearly where economies are going to be expanding’

Climate morality: ‘I am totally unwilling to trade inexpensive energy today, which is the real actual salvation of poor today, for some imagined possible slight reduction in temps 50 years from now’ — Climate Change Morality — Willis Eschenbach

CO2 Emissions, Life Expectancy, Per Capita GDP: The Real Hockey Stick: ‘How Fossil Fuels Saved Humanity from Nature and Nature from Humanity’ – ‘From 1750 to 2009, global life expectancy more than doubled, from 26 years to 69 years; global population increased 8-fold, from 760 million to 6.8 billion; and incomes increased 11-fold, from $640 to $7,300. Never before had the indicators of the success of the human species advanced as rapidly as in the past quarter millennium’ — ‘Fossil fuels are the chief energy source of modern civilization’

New paper posits ‘that humanity’s pressure will not overwhelm nature’

NY Times: Scientists See Promise for People and Nature as ‘Peak Farmland’ Looms: Study finds ‘an impending stabilization of the amount of land required for food as humanity’s growth spurt plays out’

‘Time warmist Bryan Walsh channels Marc Morano’: ‘I’m very conscious that industrialization and globalization have largely been forces for good…’‘…expanding human access to wealth, health and longevity. There’s no better time in history to be human being’

Indian Greens: ‘Electric grid will accelerate climate change’ — ‘Poor people should forgo access to electricity because of climate change’

Flashback: World’s poor need carbon based energy

Flashback: ‘Failure here [at UN Earth Summit] is good for the world’s poor people. We need to redefine sustainable development as oil, gas, coal’

Poor in India to be denied energy due to climate fears?! ‘Electric grid will accelerate climate change in Sundarbans’– Warned electricity ‘will also accelerate the process of climate change’ – ‘The ongoing extension of the electric grid to the remote islands of Sundarbans will not only adversely affect the viability of existing renewable energy projects, but will also accelerate the process of climate change, experts say’

NOOOOOOOO! Warmist Bill McKibben’s Open letter to UN climate talks in Qatar demands: ‘You’ve got to leave carbon underground’

Climate Depot Response: ‘Get the carbon out of the ground for humanity’s benefit!’ Flashback 2012 at UN Earth Summit in Rio: Climate Depot’s Morano: ‘We need to redefine sustainable development as oil, gas, coal’ — ‘Failure is only option for this summit if you care about environment & poor people. Carbon based energy has been one of greatest liberators of mankind in history of our planet’

Celebrate! Coal is the moral choice for world’s poor! 1,200 new coal plants planned worldwide ‘across 59 countries, with about three-quarters in China and India’ – ‘The huge planned expansion comes despite warnings from politicians, scientists that fast-rising carbon emissions must peak…if runaway climate change is to be avoided’

Climate Depot Response: ‘Let’s all laugh at ‘runaway climate change’. Energy poverty is a death sentence. Coal and carbon based energies are one of the greatest liberators of mankind in world history.’

World Bank: ‘Only 1 in 3 Africans has access to electricity on the continent’

Flashback: S. African activist slams UN’s ‘Green Climate Fund’: ‘Government to govt aid is a reward for being better than anyone else at causing poverty’ — ‘It enriches the people who cause poverty’

Super-rich Hollywood directer Chuck Lorre fantasizes about how great life allegedly was before fossil fuels: ‘It was relatively stable. Peace on Earth, if you will’ – ‘Then, with the advent of large-scale agriculture and the need for ever larger swathes of land to accommodate it, the tribal system collapsed and people began to live huddled together in towns, villages and cities. In short order, the priceless wisdom that taught us who we were and how we could live a happy life was forever lost to mankind’

If CO2 really does cause increased violence: ‘Violence is 1/500th of what it used to be’ – ‘Germany in the 20th century, wracked by two world wars, had 144 war deaths per 100,000 per year. Russia had 135. Japan had 27. The US in the 20th century had 5.7. In this 21st century the whole world has a war death rate of 0.3 per 100,000 people per year. In primitive societies 15 percent of people died violently; now 0.03 percent do. Violence is 1/500th of what it used to be.’

Warmist Kevin Anderson on his personal efforts to prevent CO2-induced bad weather: ‘I’ve done without a fridge for 12 years, but recently relented…I’ve cut back on washing and showering’

The Environmental Case for Fossil Fuels: ‘Fossil fuels have made our environment amazingly good’ – ‘The difference between a healthy environment and an unhealthy environment can be summed up in one word, and it’s not ‘CO2’ or ‘climate’ or ‘temperature.’ It’s ‘development.’

Climatologist Dr. John Christy: ‘Oil & other carbon-based energies are simply the affordable means by which we satisfy our true addictions – long life, good health, plentiful food…’‘…internet services, freedom of mobility, comfortable homes with heating, cooling, lighting and even colossal entertainment systems, and so on. Carbon energy has made these possible’

Coal is the Moral Choice! ‘In many African countries building a coal-fired power station will reduce CO2 emissions’ – ‘How? Because there are millions of families who have no electricity, and so cook on wood or dung fires. These fires burn inefficiently and produce not just carbon dioxide, but many airborne pollutants that harm or even kill people. If thousands of these fires are replaced by a modern coal-fired power plant, the net effect would be to lead to improved air quality and less CO2 per unit of energy’