A really sensible and balanced note is sounded by a leading alarmist blogger. Is some common sense emerging after all the name-calling?
Mark Lynas writes yesterday:
Climate campaigners 350.org recently had an ‘India Beyond Coal’ day of action, supported by assertions such as this:
Our excessive dependence on coal threatens a future where we can pull millions of Indians out of poverty. Rising costs of coal, reduced availability, excessive deforestation, negative health impacts and the climate crisis are strong reasons to begin the transition towards renewable energy and energy efficiency.
I really don’t think this is true. The costs of poverty – which includes millions of preventable deaths of young children, lack of access to water and sanitation, reduced livelihood prospects, large-scale hunger and malnutrition, and so on… are clearly much greater than the direct costs of coal burning, and this equation probably still holds even when the future damages from climate change are factored in.
The proof of this is right on India’s border in the shape of China’s coal-based development miracle. China has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty in recent decades, and made such immense strides in its development index that it alone has helped the world achieve most Millennium Development Goals – all based on a manufacturing boom almost entirely fuelled by coal.
Indeed, I would go so far as to suggest that the best way for poorer countries to protect themselves against future climate change might not be to reduce their emissions, but to use as much energy as possible – including from coal – in order to develop richer and more resilient societies. There is a very good reason why hurricanes of an equivalent ferocity kill thousands in a country like Myanmar or Haiti, but only a few dozen at most in the US or Australia. To be poor is to be vulnerable, even in today’s climate. The fact that only ‘climate sceptics’ tend [to] make this point currently is somewhat shameful.
Climate realists have been making the point for years that prosperity is the best safeguard for the environment, and Lynas has latched on to an associated truth, that prosperity makes it easier to deal with climate change.