- - Tuesday, August 5, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Few Americans can imagine life without reliable, affordable
electricity – for lights, refrigerators, air conditioning, computers,
and countless other technologies that enhance and safeguard our lives.

But in Africa, India and other regions some 2.5 billion people still
lack electricity or must rely on little solar panels on their huts, a
wind turbine in their village or unreliable power grids. They must be
content with a cell phone, light bulb and tiny refrigerator.

These energy-deprived people do not merely suffer abject poverty. They
must burn wood and dung for heating and cooking, which results in
debilitating lung diseases that kill a million people every year.

They lack refrigeration, safe water and decent hospitals, resulting in
virulent intestinal diseases that send almost two million people a
year to their graves – mostly women and children.

The energy deprivation is due in large part to unrelenting
eco-activist campaigns against coal-fired power plants, natural
gas-fueled turbines, and nuclear and hydroelectric facilities. Even
President Obama told Africans in 2009 that they should leapfrog the
“dirtier phase” of economic development, ignore fossil fuels, and
instead use their “bountiful wind and solar power, geothermal energy
and biofuels.”

Citing climate change, his administration even joined Big Green
environmental groups in refusing to support loans for critically
needed coal and natural gas-fired generating plants in Ghana and South
Africa.

It’s thus a momentous development that the House of Representatives
has passed an “Electrify Africa” bill, the Senate will soon vote on
its companion “Energize Africa” measure, and the White House is
sponsoring a “Power Africa” initiative. All three will spur fossil
fuel, power plant and electrical grid development, improving access to
energy, jobs, higher living standards, better health and longer lives.

The measures speak of a “broad” power mix, including renewable energy,
but say little or nothing about oil, gas or coal. However, Africa has
abundant supplies of these fossil fuels and cannot afford to ignore
them. A huge power plant in Ghana takes advantage of otherwise
unneeded natural gas, while South Africa’s enormous Medupi plant burns
coal, using technologies that remove up to 90% of key air pollutants.

Environmentalist pressure groups will nevertheless probably oppose any
“Energize Africa” policy recommendations or project proposals that
involve fossil fuels or promote any large-scale power generation,
instead of reliance on what they and the United Nations like to call
“sustainable energy.”

Sierra Club, Greenpeace and UN activists would never agree to less
than 1% of the electricity that average Americans use. For them to
advocate such miserly levels for Third World families – instead of the
“high energy” levels they need and deserve – is hypocritical, callous
eco-imperialism.

India’s Intelligence Bureau recently called Greenpeace “a threat to
national economic security,” noting that it has been “spawning” and
funding internal campaigns that have delayed or blocked electricity
projects and other infrastructure programs needed to lift people out
of poverty and disease. The Bureau says anti-development NGOs are
costing India’s economy 2-3% in lost GDP every year.

The Indian government has now banned direct foreign funding of local
campaign groups by Greenpeace, WWF International and other foreign
NGOs. That’s an important step.

Big Green campaigners constantly demand “environmental justice” for
poor families. They insist that for-profit corporations be socially
responsible, honest, transparent, and liable for damages the NGOs
allege companies have inflicted, by supposedly altering Earth’s
climate and weather, for example.

However, they bristle when anyone says the same standards should apply
to them, as nonprofit corporations that wield enormous power and
influence. They oppose Golden Rice, for example, consigning millions
of children to malnutrition, blindness and death.

They incessantly battle pesticides and the powerful insect repellant
DDT, ensuring that half a billion people get malaria every year,
making them unable to work for weeks, leaving millions with permanent
brain damage, and killing 900,000 per year, mostly women and children.

In their view, anything they support is sustainable. Whatever they
oppose is unsustainable. Whatever they advocate also complies with the
“precautionary principle.” Whatever they disdain violates it.

Worse, their perverse guidelines always focus on alleged risks of
using technologies – but never on risks of not using them. They
spotlight risks that modern technologies might cause, but ignore risks
the technologies would reduce or prevent.

Profit-seeking companies certainly cause accidents, some of which have
killed hundreds of people or thousands of animals. However, the real
killers are governments and anti-technology nonprofit activist
corporations.

Their death tolls are in the millions – via wars and through misguided
or intentional policies that institute or prolong starvation and
disease from denial of electricity, food and life-saving technologies.

India, Uganda and other countries can fight back, by terminating the
NGOs’ tax-exempt status, as Canada did with Greenpeace. They could
hold pressure groups to the same standards they demand of for-profit
corporations: honesty, transparency, social responsibility,
accountability and personal liability.

They could excoriate the Big Green groups for their crimes against
humanity – and penalize them for the malnutrition, disease, economic
stagnation and death they perpetrate or perpetuate.

Actions like these would improve billions of lives, ensure true
environmental justice for millions of families, and bring at least a
measure of accountability to Big Green.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A
Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of Eco-Imperialism:
Green power - Black death.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide