“I am inevitable” – Earth Day means the whole earth, growing energy consumption and all
Ah, Earth Day. I think I was supposed to turn out the lights or something. Oops. On the plus side, I didn’t dump a load of chemicals in a river or start an energy-sucking crpyto-currency. But on the other hand, the words of Thanos seemed more appropriate than anything, with respect to the rise of energy demand.
But of course I did think about the environment, and what 7.8 billion people are doing to it. Earth Day is cool in concept, well worth supporting, if the focus was as it used to be – cleaning up pollution, picking up garbage, reforesting, or doing anything that helps restore natural habitats where possible. It’s a balancing act though. All those people are striving for a better life, one like we in the west enjoy. So the political haranguing tone that Earth Day has taken on needs to be put in context.
So this year, here’s an Earth Day idea. Here’s some voices from around the world that don’t get heard properly.
Setting the backdrop for Earth Day, the International Energy Agency issued a report stating that global emissions were expected to rise, largely a result of more coal being burned. The IEA called it a ‘dire warning’ – that is, a dire warning that the UN won’t meet its emissions/temperature goals.
Dire? Well, here’s some other perspectives from around the Earth. The word ‘dire’ has different meaning depending on the quality of shoes you happen to be standing in (and the word is quite profound when you have none).
Here is one perspective from Reuters (via BOE Report), an oddly sensible commentary from a site (Reuters) that has gone full-tilt climate alarm: “…the rhetorical priority on reducing emissions can often sound like a call to put climate change ahead of other development goals, postponing solutions to other problems until climate change has been tackled…In reality, that sounds selfish, unfair, and politically impractical to many policymakers from developing countries, who must be sensitive to other objectives as well.” The author, John Kemp, continues, “Residents of advanced economies enjoy more heating, cooling and lighting services; travel further and more frequently, for pleasure as well as work; and consume more energy embedded in goods and services…If they are to achieve the other 16 sustainable development goals and increase their incomes and living standards, residents of developing economies will also need to consume more energy.”
Here’s another, and this also from what is normally a climate-activist source (Nature). In an article entitled “Blanket bans on fossil-fuel funds will entrench poverty”, author Vijaya Ramachandran says, with respect to Africa, “Natural gas also offers the best way to modernize food production and transport…It would be the height of climate injustice to impose restrictions on the nations most in need of modern infrastructure and least responsible for the world’s climate challenges.”
Let’s pop over to India for a second for this valuable earthly viewpoint. In “An Open Letter to John Kerry from People living in Energy Poverty”, author Vijay Jayaraj states: “Thankfully, India, like China, and a few other developing nations, understood that energy poverty can only be alleviated through embracing abundant and affordable energy resources—both domestically and from foreign shores. Hence, India muscled its way through in its fight against energy poverty. Coal, oil, and gas together alleviated energy poverty…much of the success that you enjoy in the U.S was made possible only because of coal and oil. And in recent years, natural gas has helped your economy reduce dependency on energy imports. We’re every bit as human as you and your fellow Americans. So, why should we be starved of the same energy sources you have enjoyed for two centuries—and still do?…You are asking poor Indian families to forgo oil and gas, but you don’t embrace the climate gospel you are preaching. How is it okay for my people to go back into an era of power blackouts when you can fly your oil-guzzling private jet to Iceland to accept an award—and call it “only choice for somebody like me.” Please, Mr. Kerry, leave the developing countries alone. If you cannot help us, do not hurt us by preaching the climate gospel.”
There you go, everyone. Some food for thought around Earth Day. To be sure: Cleaning it up is critical. Let’s get rid of pollution where we can, let’s clean up rivers and oceans, let’s fight like hell against contamination, wasteful habitat destruction, and unnecessary/unwise uses of our precious resources.
The development is inevitable. Earth Day is about minimizing our footprint, but not denying that reality.
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