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Let Them Sow Dung

Updated: May 17

Oppressing the poor for sustainability's sake



Americans, especially those of the working class, have been hammered by Joe Biden's disastrous energy policies, which are chiefly driven by bogus concerns over climate.


When Biden took office in January 2021, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was $2.38. Today, it is $3.66 per gallon — almost 54% higher than it was at the end of Trump's tenure.


Over the course of a year, that amounts to hundreds — even thousands — of dollars more that Americans must spend just to cover existing transportation costs; this, of course, means hundreds — even thousands — of dollars less that they have available to spend on their families. It's little wonder, then, why so many Americans are falling behind.


But as bad as things are in the United States, they're even worse in parts of the developing world — especially in Africa, where environmentalists and their allies are impeding economic advancement in the name of sustainability.


The 'Sustainability' Chimera


Environmentalists — especially those of Western extraction — endlessly offer platitudes to the poor, lamenting in white papers and policy reports that climate change disproportionately affects the economically disadvantaged.


Let's suppose, for the sake of argument, that their contention is true — that manmade climate change is a real threat, and not a socialist scheme to spur top-down control and the global redistribution of wealth. Even then, their prescriptions for easing the plight of the poor are counterproductive.


Recognizing the inherent tension between pulling people out of poverty and furthering the climate agenda, their solution is "sustainable development," which largely involves upping investments in renewable energy at Western taxpayers' expense. Tapping fossil fuels, of course, is a non-starter — We can't let Africa make the same mistakes we did, the thinking goes. Viewed through that lens, renewable energy — wind, solar and the like — becomes the only way to go.


Typical is an excerpt from Pope Francis' 2015 encyclical, Laudato si':


"For poor countries, the priorities must be to eliminate extreme poverty and to promote the social development of their people. ... They are likewise bound to develop less polluting forms of energy production, but to do so they require the help of countries which have experienced great growth at the cost of the ongoing pollution of the planet. Taking advantage of abundant solar energy will require the establishment of mechanisms and subsidies which allow developing countries access to technology transfer, technical assistance and financial resources ... . The costs of this would be low, compared to the risks of climate change."

But how does this translate, on the ground, in developing countries? Does it reflect reality?


Many Africans insist, No.


If climate change disproportionately impacts the poor, they argue, then the poor are hurt more deeply by "solutions" devised by the United Nations and its partners. Ultimately, many contend, the "medicine" is far more bitter than the "malady."


'Climate Colonialism'


One such detractor is Kenyan agricultural engineer, Jusper Machogu.


In an eye-opening interview with The Epoch Times earlier this month, Machogu highlighted how Western policy prescriptions are sabotaging hopes for economic advancement in his country.


Bowing to the demands of the International Monetary Fund, in November 2023, Kenyan president William Ruto ordered subsidies to be cut for fertilizer, fuel and electricity — a move to curb Kenya's carbon dioxide emissions by curtailing its fossil fuel use.


As a direct result, Machogu explained, many Kenyan farmers were forced to abandon more expensive fertilizers and revert to using a far less effective means of nourishing their fields:


"The fertilizer prices went up by almost two times. We have very poor people around here. ... Most people have gone back to using cow dung, which is not a good nitrogenous fertilizer for their crop. ... So, we need access to fossil fuel fertilizer. That would change our lives in a big, big way. ... Without fossil fuels, we don't have energy. We must have fossil fuels. It's how the West beat poverty."

By coercing needy countries into renouncing fossil fuels, Machogu charged, Western governments are engaging in a type of "climate colonialism."


"They said that one of the problems is climate change," he noted. "It doesn't make sense to me because I come from Africa. We have far bigger problems — people sleeping hungry, very poor people around me. I'm more worried about that than I'll ever be worried about climate change."


The IMF's strong-arming of Kenya is not an isolated case. All-too-often, international development agencies force impoverished nations to adopt exceedingly painful measures to unlock access to Western capital.


Calvin Beisner, founder and president of Christian public policy group the Cornwall Alliance, told The Epoch Times that development agencies frequently undermine the health and stability of poor nations by refusing "loans or other funding for coal, natural gas, or oil-based electric generating stations in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia and Latin America.”


"The fuel cost problem is real and rising in sub-Saharan Africa, frankly, around the world," he confirmed. "As our policies drive that increase in the cost of fuel, we are essentially condemning people to have less food harvested and, therefore, less food available to put on the table at higher prices."


'Breathtakingly Hypocritical'


Today, some 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa have no access to electricity, and almost 1 billion lack clean energy sources for cooking. Meanwhile, the continent is home to roughly 13% of the world's natural gas and seven percent of its oil, and its potential for renewable energy is enormous.


Balanced observers argue for the development of both fossil fuels and renewables to lift Africans out of poverty.


In 2022, African Union delegates drafted a document outlining their position, declaring: "In the short to medium term, fossil fuels, especially natural gas, will have to play a crucial role in expanding modern energy access in addition to accelerating the uptake of renewables."


Later that year, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 27) in Egypt, African leaders reaffirmed that their nations must be free to develop their fossil fuel resources, for the economic wellbeing of their people.


"Africa wants to send a message that we are going to develop all of our energy resources for the benefit of our people because our issue is energy poverty," a Namibian official told reporters at the gathering.


But green zealots are fighting this.


For example, in September 2023 — two months before he slashed fertilizer and fuel subsidies for his people — President William Ruto of Kenya convened the inaugural Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi. There, "a coalition of 500 activist groups called for an immediate global fossil fuel phaseout," complete with a "new 100% renewable energy system" to meet "all African energy needs with renewable, socially and environmentally sound, people-centered renewable energy."


Analyzing these demands in a post-summit Foreign Policy article, Seaver Wang and Vijaya Ramachandran of the Breakthrough Institute warned that "Rich-world advocates are pushing outlandish green scenarios that will keep Africans poor," and chastised activists and their allies for portraying pie-in-the-sky outcomes as plausible:


"It is irresponsible for climate advocates and rich-country policymakers to represent such a highly optimistic scenario as the assured or even likely outcome, and then use that assumption to argue that poor countries, therefore, no longer have any need to pursue technologies that these rich-country voices disapprove of, such as natural gas, carbon capture, large hydropower, or nuclear power."

"Africans need air conditioning to protect people from high heat, chemical fertilizers to raise yields and feed their populations, refrigerated storage for food and medicines, irrigation pumps for farmlands, and mechanized farm equipment to modernize the continent’s food systems," they added. "Rich-world advocates and policymakers should realize that their demands for immediate fossil-fuel abstinence are very likely to perpetuate the extreme poverty that many Africans face — and they should reflect more thoughtfully on the limitations of what energy research can and cannot say about our collective energy future."


Mansoor Hamayun, cofounder and CEO of Bboxx — a renewable energy company focused on Africa — concurs. Reflecting on Africa's development needs, he argues that "we must not lose sight of the fact that fossil fuels still have an important and enabling role to play in the transition to net zero in the developing world, where they are necessary to drive economic growth and expand access to fundamental services."


"This may be a surprising conclusion for many in the West," he observes, "as it contrasts with the predominant binary climate change narrative which argues that we need to eliminate fossil fuels in order to reach net zero."


"The West’s black and white attitude towards fossil fuels is particularly ironic given that the developed world’s prosperity has been powered by a historic fossil-fueled free-for-all," Hamayun adds. "Expecting Africa to abstain from a resource that catalyzed the West’s own development trajectory is not only unfair but breathtakingly hypocritical."


Writer, editor and producer Stephen Wynne has spent the past seven years covering, from a Catholic perspective, the latest developments in the Church, the nation and the world. Prior to his work in journalism, he spent eight years co-authoring “Repairing the Breach,” a book examining the war of worldviews between Christianity and Darwinism. A Show-Me State native, he holds a BA in Creative Writing from Pepperdine University and an Executive MBA from the Bloch School of Business at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.


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He considers himself an expert on the subject of which he speaks, a mythical threat. He should resign the papacy and do what he pretends to do best, rule over others telling them what to think, believe, and do in matters that pertain to this temporal world. Since when did the papacy and papal infallibility make the claim to be a substitute for common sense, right reason, and the deposit of faith? I saw an omen in a new catechism making an absurd claim that government has authority over demographics of people. No it doesn't. And neither does the Pope have such authority. He deludes himself into thinking himself more authoritative than he is about matters that are frankl…

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This smug 'green' nonsense is the same attitude found in the abortion/euthanasia-promoting crowd. It's an attitude that is happy to enjoy the privilege of already being born, but wanting to murder those who are yet to be born. Enjoying the health of youth, but wanting the sick or aged to kill themselves. And of course, enjoying the products of oil to provide themslves the plastics found in their phones, computers, clothing, medical products, food-storgage/packaging, and electric vehicles.....but denying these things to the less privileged.


To borrow a phrase, "Check your privilege".

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