- - Thursday, August 7, 2014


What Africa needs is industry, power and, most of all, something to eat. The necessities we take for granted are not easy to get in the developing world. Save the Children, an international charity, counts more than a dozen countries in Africa plagued by malnutrition. Nearly 30 percent of the world’s 842 million hungry live on the continent, and John Kerry wants to issue each of them a carbon credit.

This week’s summit of American and African heads of state in Washington would have been the perfect opportunity to discuss ways to invite prosperity to a region that badly needs it. Free-trade agreements and manufacturing deals would deliver the only known permanent cure for poverty: prosperity. Instead, the 50 African leaders were treated to a lecture from our secretary of state, who droned on about the mythical dangers of global warming. You could see heads nodding off all over the room.

Acknowledging the reality of child hunger in Africa, Mr. Kerry urged leaders not to undertake an enormous campaign to feed those whose every day is a struggle to stay alive, but to introduce inefficient farming that responds to the “impact of climate change.”

Mr. Kerry offered several bizarre claims, including the favorite of the warmists that carbon dioxide is “making some of the food that we do grow less nutritious than it used to be.” Basic biology suggests there’s more to this story. Carbon dioxide is what makes plants thrive. More CO2 means more growth. Without this essential substance, wheat, corn and every other crop will wither and die.

“Rising carbon-dioxide levels,” said Mr. Kerry, “translate into lower levels of zinc and iron in wheat and other cereal grains.” He leaves out the rest of the story. Carbon dioxide is responsible for higher crop yields, so there’s more wheat sharing the minerals drawn from the soil. The choice between more food and more vitamins isn’t a hard one to make when millions are starving. But we suppose the children dying, literally, for a carrot or an ear of corn should be grateful for a transcript of Mr. Kerry’s remarks.

The only time wealthy liberals like Mr. Kerry feel a hunger pang is when their chefs forget to order a favorite French cheese. They have the luxury of pushing on others “creative solutions” and “climate-smart agriculture” — whatever those may be. They imagine that starving children would rather get a solar panel than a decent meal.

When President Obama visited Africa last year, he expressed this sentiment in his warning against upward mobility. “Here in Africa,” the president said, “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.”

Lecturing the planet’s poorest on the need for them to be satisfied with what they’ve got is the height of arrogance. Despite its vast resources, Africa has been held back for generations by mercantilism, socialism, corruption and plunder.

Africans deserve to enjoy the benefits of a modern society — a house, a car, air conditioning and even a Big Mac — just as much as anyone in Manhattan, Georgetown or the South Side of Chicago. They deserve the chance at the better life that Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry have.

Affluent liberals want to save the planet with Western-style environmentalism, government planning and the latest incarnation of socialism. Encouraging the investment and free trade that would raise the standard of living for all just doesn’t fit into the “progressive” worldview.

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