Live Earth Remedy Deadly for Africans

Commentary, Environment, Paul Driessen

Promoters claim the Live Earth concerts drew two billion fans — a number equal to people worldwide who still don’t have access to electricity. Others say the actual audience was a few tens of millions, including via television and webcasts.

However, the concerts might be deemed successful if measured by cash raked in by promoters; fuel burned to get to the events; watts consumed and greenhouse gases emitted to power televisions and air conditioners for stay-at-home fans. Or overheated fears of global warming catastrophe. Al Gore demanded immediate action, but ignored his own profligate consumption: a thousand flights (mostly first class or private jets) to warn of a “climate crisis” and a house that uses 20 times more electricity than the average American home.

Prince Charles’s three mansions produce 500 times the CO2 emissions of an average British home, and he and his entourages routinely burn thousands of gallons of aviation gas on globe-trotting flights.

Actor Ed Begley, Jr. uses alternative energy to supplement enormous amounts of non-alternative electricity that make his lifestyle and career possible. He believes Africans, by contrast, should have electricity only where they need it: little solar panels “on their huts.”

These alarmists attempt to justify their extravagant lifestyles by grandstanding at Live Earth concerts and purchasing energy efficient light bulbs or “carbon offsets” (i.e. having trees planted somewhere). Then they say other people’s energy consumption could cause catastrophic global warming.

But if the concerts cause more people to demand that poor countries not develop the energy they so desperately need, these false global warming “solutions” could be disastrous for the world’s most impoverished citizens.

Some 95 per cent of sub-Saharan Africans still do not have electricity, lights or refrigeration, or have them only a few hours a week. As a result, millions die every year from lung infections caused by pollution from wood and dung fires, and acute intestinal diseases caused by tainted water and spoiled food.

Millions more die from diseases that would be largely eradicated by the improved living standards, health-care systems and agriculture that come with prosperity, modern technology and abundant energy. Other parts of the world face similar threats.

But Gore, Live Earth rock stars and radical pressure groups such as Rainforest Action and Greenpeace constantly battle energy projects in poor countries. They oppose coal and gas-fired power plants because of speculative global warming, hydroelectric projects because they dam up rivers, nuclear power because it generates radioactive wastes.

They even oppose jetliners that bring tourists to Africa and African produce to Europe. In their view, African and other poor nations must base their future on insufficient, expensive, unreliable wind and solar energy. That’s a virtual guarantor of perpetual poverty.

Environmentalists simply don’t want the world’s poor to emerge from poverty and become middle class, because they would then become consumers, use more resources and demand more electricity.

Green activists gladly demand more aid and debt relief, but they strive to prevent energy, mineral and economic development, modern agriculture and meaningful opportunities for the world’s poor to take their rightful places among the Earth’s healthy and prosperous people.

Poor countries should worry not about climate change, but about whether they will have electricity for refrigerators, lights and modern homes, hospitals, schools, offices and factories.

They should be concerned not about the supposed risks of development and technology but about real, immediate, life-threatening dangers that development and technology would prevent.

Poor nations need — and deserve — abundant, reliable, affordable energy to power modern, industrialized, healthy, prosperous communities. Their governments must help facilitate this and challenge anti-energy pressure groups whenever necessary.

Poor countries don’t need to depend on the World Bank or foreign aid any more than Britain and the United States needed them to develop and prosper. If their institutions and policies are sound, poor countries can get plentiful investment money and technology from private sources.

African, Asian, Latin American and Eastern European countries have abundant oil, gas, coal, nuclear and hydroelectric resources. They also have the ultimate resource: the brain power, creativity and proud work ethic of their people.

If they can harness these resources, and unleash the power of free enterprise with modern legal, regulatory, economic and property rights systems, they will generate previously unimaginable opportunity, health and prosperity for their people.