A Free-Market Energy Blog

Perverse Environmental Justice (Part I)

By -- June 10, 2015

“Climate-change prevention schemes threaten human welfare and promote environmental injustice. Thus it is imperative that the case of manmade greenhouse-gas prevention be based on science and not pseudo-science.”

Climate change has been “real” throughout Earth and human history. Thankfully, modern housing, energy and other technologies help us cope with climate and weather events much better than ever before.

With biotechnology we could even handle another Little Ice Age, despite the shorter growing seasons and reduced arable land that would result – unless anti-technology activists erect more obstacles to this, too. About the only thing that would really give us trouble is another Pleistocene ice age that buries lands and cities under mile-thick glaciers, and sends global temperatures and plant growth plummeting.

For 18 years though, contrary to computer models and White House proclamations, average planetary temperatures have barely budged, even as carbon dioxide levels “soared” from 0.03 percent of Earth’s atmosphere to 0.04 percent. No category 3-5 hurricane has hit the United States for a record 9-1/2 years. Tornadoes, polar bears, polar ice, sea levels and wildfires are all in line with historic patterns and trends.

About the only thing that seems unusual is that the Sahel is green again, thanks to that extra CO2.

However, despite all that good news, the same ideologically driven activists and politicians continue to call for carbon capture, carbon taxes, “clean power” plans, more restrictions on using coal and hydrocarbons, expanded ethanol and other renewable energy mandates, and a new climate treaty. About the only thing that’s different is how the old horror stories have been replaced with new ones.

Now, they claim, climate change is responsible for asthma, allergies, and new national security threats, like ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and Boko Haram in Nigeria. They say we must modernize developing countries “sustainably,” and use the “climate crisis” to “move the world in a greener, more equitable direction.” Climate alarmists simply cannot embrace reality, admit they were wrong about “dangerous manmade climate change,” let go of their hidebound hatred of hydrocarbons, or recognize that their false solutions to this exaggerated and fabricated crisis are inequitable and inhumane.

They refuse to acknowledge the irrefutable fact that the real danger is not climate change – which will always be with us. The real danger is policies, regulations, energy restrictions and wealth redistribution schemes imposed in the name of controlling Earth’s perpetually fickle climate.

Impairing Third World Welfare & Human Rights  

Those polices severely impact human health and welfare, environmental justice, and the unalienable right of people everywhere to have affordable, reliable energy, rise up out of poverty, and enjoy modern living standards. Denying people these basic human rights is perverse and immoral.

Over the past three decades, fossil fuels helped 1.3 billion people get electricity and escape debilitating energy and economic poverty. Over 830 million enjoy these benefits because of coal. China connected 99% of its population to the grid, also mostly with coal, analysts Robert Bryce and Roger Bezdek note.

Abundant, reliable, affordable motor fuels and electricity empower people and support mobility, modern agriculture, homes and hospitals, computers and communications, lights and refrigerators, job creation, life and study after sundown, indoor plumbing, safe drinking water, less disease and longer lives.

Fossil fuels make plastics, pharmaceuticals and clothing. They make fertilizers and pesticides, to improve crop yields, reduce food prices and improve nutrition.

In conjunction with property rights and entrepreneurship, protected by laws enforced by limited, responsive, responsible governments, fossil fuels will continue transforming lives and nations the world over. They will also enable people to respond and adapt to future climate changes and extreme weather events, floods and droughts, heat waves, new “little ice ages” and other disasters, natural or manmade. More plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere enhances wildlife habitats and food production.

However, 1.3 billion people (the population of the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe combined) still do not have electricity. Billions are impoverished and hungry.

In India alone, more people than live in the USA still lack electricity, and a third of the Sub Continent’s wealthiest families still do not have refrigerators. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 730 million people (the population of Europe) still cook and heat with wood, charcoal and animal dung.

Every year, hundreds of millions get horribly sick – and four million die, mostly women and children – from lung and intestinal diseases, due to breathing smoke from open cooking and heating fires, and not having clean water, proper sanitation, or refrigerators to keep food fresh and bacteria-free.

Imposing fossil fuel restrictions and renewable energy mandates – in the name of stabilizing planetary climate that has never been stable – would perpetuate this Third World poverty, disease and death. It would be the highest irony, a needless tragedy, an unconscionable crime against humanity, if the world implemented policies to protect these energy-deprived masses from hypothetical manmade climate dangers decades from now, by perpetuating poverty and disease that kill them tomorrow.

And yet, President Obama’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation has refused to lend money for coal-fired power plants in developing countries, and even some gas-fueled generators and hydroelectric facilities. The World Bank has done likewise – leaving the new China Development Bank to fill the gap.

African Development Bank’s president Donald Kaberuka says poor nations will no longer tolerate these hypocritical, lethal policies. His bank will also continue loaning money for coal-fired generating units. But the absence of World Bank and OPIC money means those projects will not have sufficient funding to install modern, readily available pollution controls. That means millions of families will finally have electricity and won’t be sickened by wood and dung fires, but now will face new classes of pollutants.

Impacting rich country health, welfare and environmental justice

In developed nations, climate-related fossil fuel restrictions kill jobs, reduce living standards, and affect everything we make, grow, ship, eat and do.

EPA is using numerous diktats to force more coal-fired generating plants to close and restrict methane emissions from landfills and natural gas production sites – while it funnels millions of dollars to activist groups that promote its policies and employs sue-and-settle lawsuits to impose even tighter restrictions. FEMA plans to tell states they must use CO2-based computer models to determine how manmade climate change allegedly threatens communities, if they want disaster preparedness funding.

The Council on Environmental Quality wants all applicants for federal project permits to “fully evaluate” greenhouse gas emissions and potential impacts on climate change. The Department of Energy is issuing new efficiency standards that will double the cost of pickup trucks and appliances, while spending more taxpayer billions on wind, solar and biofuel loans, grants and subsidies.

The Interior Department is closing more federal lands to drilling, while it exempts wind and solar projects from endangered species and other environmental laws, allowing wind turbines to continue slaughtering millions of birds and bats every year, virtually exterminating raptors in many areas and leaving larger hordes of insects to devour food crops.

Ethanol programs mean 40 percent of America’s corn crop, from land the size of Iowa, is being turned into fuel, even as fracking produces record amounts of domestic oil and natural gas. As a result, grain, meat and fish prices have climbed dramatically; food aid costs have soared, leaving more people malnourished longer in countries stricken by drought or ravaged by war; and small engine parts corrode, requiring costly repairs. In fact, in 2012 the United States converted enough corn into ethanol to feed 412 million people, more than half the world’s hungry masses, analyst H. Sterling Burnett reports.

To top it off, because ethanol has less energy content than gasoline, and producing the corn-based product requires so much fossil fuel power, burning ethanol fuels emits 33 percent more greenhouse gases than pure gasoline.

Two-thirds of Florida’s endangered manatees survive cold winters by huddling in warm waters that flow from coal-fired power plants. EPA’s plant closures could cause hundreds of them to die, while Interior shuts down oil and gas operations that it claims could affect sage grouse.

The Heritage Foundation, NERA economic consultants and other experts estimate that EPA’s anti-fossil fuel actions alone will cost hundreds of thousands of American jobs and a $100-billion loss in gross domestic product – for little or no health, environmental or climate benefit.

By 2030, analysts say, America’s electricity output will drop by nearly 10 percent even as the United States adds 54 million people to its population. Brownouts and blackouts could become a regular occurrence, and we will be told we must get used to having much more expensive electricity when it’s available, instead of when we need it, for homes, offices, hospitals and assembly lines.

Poor, minority and blue-collar families will have to find thousands of dollars a year for soaring electricity, vehicle and appliance costs. Small businesses will have to find thousands more dollars to keep the heat and lights on. Factories, malls, school districts, hospitals and cities will have to pay millions more.

Millions of middle class workers will get laid off – in coal mines, power plants, factories, shops and other businesses. Entire families and communities will be impoverished. Bread winners lucky enough to find work will be forced to work multiple jobs, commute longer distances, and suffer severe sleep deprivation.

Families will have to cope with more stress, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, spousal and child abuse. Nutrition and medical care will suffer. More people will have strokes and heart attacks. More will die.

In the Four Corners region, coal and electricity generation have provided enormous economic, employment, health and welfare benefits for Navajo and other local families. Children had good schools and were able to stay in the area, learn their language and heritage, and have good jobs and salaries when they graduated. The EPA war on coal is putting all this at risk. This is concern for minorities?

Climate-change prevention schemes, in conclusion, threaten human welfare and promote environmental injustice. Thus it is imperative that the case of manmade greenhouse-gas prevention be based on science and not pseudo-science.


Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow; author of Eco-Imperialism: Green Power – Black Death; and coauthor of Cracking Big Green: Saving the World from the Save-the-Earth Money Machine.

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