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De Omnibus Dubitandum - Lux Veritas

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Eco-colonialism degrades Africa

Green, UN, rich nation and African elites impose deadly anti-development colonialism

by Willie Soon and Paul Driessen

Sub-Saharan Africa remains one of Earth’s most impoverished regions. Over 90% of its people still lack electricity, running water, proper sanitation and decent housing. Malaria, malnutrition, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and intestinal diseases kill millions every year. Life expectancy is appalling, and falling.

And yet UN officials, European politicians, environmentalist groups and even African authorities insist that global warming is the gravest threat facing the continent. They claim there is no longer any debate over human-caused global warming – but ignore thousands of scientists who say human CO2 emissions are not the primary cause of climate changes, there is no evidence that future warming will be catastrophic, and computer models do not provide valid projections or “scenarios” for the future.

Warming alarmists use the “specter of climate change” to justify inhumane policies and shift the blame for problems that could be solved with the very technologies they oppose.

Past colonialism sought to develop mining, forestry and agriculture, and bring better government and healthcare practices to Africa . Eco-colonialism keeps Africans “traditional” and “indigenous,” by insisting that modern technologies are harmful and not “sustainable” in Africa .

Abundant, reliable, affordable electricity could power homes, offices, factories, schools and hospitals, create jobs, bring clean running water, and generate health and prosperity. But Rainforest Action Network and other pressure groups oppose coal and natural gas electricity generation on the grounds of climate change, and hydroelectric and nuclear power for other ideological reasons. They promote wind turbines and solar panels that provide electricity unreliably and in amounts too small to meet any but the most rudimentary needs.

Biotechnology could produce bumper crops that overcome droughts, floods, insects, viruses, and even global warming and cooling. But Greenpeace and Sierra Club oppose this precision hybrid-making technology, and instead promote land and labor-intensive subsistence farming.

DDT and insecticides could slash malaria rates that Al Gore and other climate alarmists falsely claim are rising because of global warming. But Pesticide Action Network and other activists stridently oppose their use, and the European Parliament recently imposed new pesticide restrictions that will further restrict African access to life-saving chemicals.

Recent incidents dramatize how depraved and deadly global warming politics have become.

In Gambia , a UN-subsidized “national ministerial dialogue” promoted extremist views on “catastrophic climate change” and “sustainable development.” A Forestry and Environment department representative asserted that it would be “nearly impossible to adapt to … impacts such as the loss of the West Antarctic ice sheet … and [resultant] 5-15 meter sea level rise.”

There was no mention of the near-zero probability of such an event happening. Average annual temperatures in Antarctica hover around minus 50 Centigrade (-58 F), while average temperatures for the two-month summer in its Western Peninsula are barely four degrees above freezing.

Scary tales of runaway temperature spikes melting 200,000 cubic miles of peninsular ice might be expected from Al Gore and James Hansen. But when Gambian ministers engage in such unscrupulous propaganda, they further degrade the health and welfare of their people.

Cameroon hosted a “fact-finding” visit from seven senior British Members of Parliament, who declaimed that climate change is “a jinx that threatens humanity more than HIV/AIDS.” They were joined by Cameroon ’s Minister of Forestry and Wildlife in urging that forests be managed to increase absorption of planetary carbon dioxide and “reduce global warming.”

Few climate actions, however, come close to the travesty being played out in nearby Chad . There the government has banned the manufacture, importation and use of charcoal – the sole source of fuel for 99% of Chadians.

“Cooking is a fundamental necessity for every household,” its Environment Minister pronounced. But “with climate change every citizen must protect his environment.”

The edict has sent women and children scavenging for dead branches, cow dung, grass and anything else that burns. “People cannot cook,” said human rights activist Merlin Totinon Nguebetan. “Women giving birth cannot even find a bit of charcoal to heat water for washing,” said another.

The government admitted it had failed to prepare the public for its sudden decree, but announced no change in plans – saying only that scarce propane might be an alternative for some. When citizens protested, they were violently dispersed by police.

“We will not give up,” a women’s group leader said. “Better to die swiftly than continue dying slowly.”

So this is where radical climate change alarmism has taken us. When the health of Planet Earth is at stake, human life means little – even if the “disasters” are nothing more than worst-case scenarios conjured up by computer models, headline writers, Hollywood , and professional doomsayers like Gore, Hansen and NOAA alarmist-in-chief Susan Solomon.

“Every time someone dies as a result of floods in Bangladesh , an airline executive should be dragged out of his office and drowned,” British arch-environmentalist George Monbiot hectored readers of The Guardian, in a typically hysteria-laced column.

One has to wonder if he would apply the same standard to eco-colonialist executives who continue to perpetuate poverty, disease, malnutrition and death in the name of preventing “global warming disasters” that fewer and fewer respectable scientists still believe are caused by human greenhouse gas emissions.

As economist Indur Goklany and even the UN climate panel acknowledge, future generations will be far richer than today’s. Poor families today should not be asked to bear the burden for richer families tomorrow, especially to guard against speculative climate and sustainability “disasters” whose “solutions” are worse than the purported problems.

The United Nations, European Union and United States need to address Africa ’s real problems and replace lethal eco-colonialism with fact-based science and humane public policies. And African countries need to take command of their future.

Africa needs to curb corruption. Adopt property rights and free enterprise principles. Promote sustained development. Utilize disease-preventing insecticides and modern agricultural biotechnology.

Rely less on foreign aid that is shriveling in the global recession and often comes with conditions and prohibitions that keep communities and nations deprived of energy and mired in poverty. Work with companies that want to develop natural resources, to get help building hospitals, schools and large-scale power plants that provide dependable, affordable electricity.

In short, Africa needs to remember Milton Friedman’s sage advice: “Poor countries should not do what rich countries did once they became rich. They should do what rich countries did to become rich.”

Soon is chief science adviser for the Science and Public Policy Institute and author of numerous papers on climate change. Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Congress of Racial Equality and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green Power Black Death.

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