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Green energy poverty week
By Paul Driessen
April 22 was Earth Day, the March for Science and Lenin’s birthday (which many say is appropriate, since environmentalism is now green on the outside and red, anti-free enterprise on the inside). April 29 will feature the People’s Climate March and the usual “Climate change is real” inanity.
The Climate March website says these forces of “The Resistance” intend to show President Trump they will fight his hated energy agenda every step of the way. Science March organizers say they won’t tolerate anyone who tries to “skew, ignore, misuse or interfere with science.”
After eight years of government policies that killed jobs and economic growth – and skewed, ignored, misused, obstructed, vilified and persecuted science and scientists that strayed from alarmist talking points, to advance a climate chaos, anti-fossil fuel, anti-growth agenda – that piety is arrogant hypocrisy.
But their theater of the absurd gets worse. Some March for Science leaders were outraged that the recent MOAB bomb dropped on ISIS terrorists shows “how science is weaponized against marginal people.”
The rhetoric also recalls the annual Earth Hour, when people in rich countries are supposed to turn off their lights for 60 minutes, to repent for the sin of using fossil fuel, nuclear and hydroelectric power to electrify our homes, businesses, schools and hospitals. I personally promote Human Achievement Hour, by turning on extra lights, to celebrate humanity’s incredible innovations and advancements these past 150 years, our modern living standards, and the right of all people to improve their lives and life spans.
I was a campus organizer for the very first Earth Day, in 1970, when we had serious pollution problems. But since then we’ve cleaned up our act, air and water. Environmentalist groups, modelers and Obama regulators ignore these advances, real climate science and the Real-World climate outside their windows.
Far worse, while claiming to care deeply about the poorest among us, they ignore the harm their policies inflict: soaring electricity prices, fewer jobs, lower living standards in the West – and perpetual poverty, disease, malnutrition and premature death in developing countries. We pay more and more each year for de minimis further improvements in environmental quality, combined with ever-expanding government and activist control of our lives, and steadfast opposition to reliable, affordable energy in the Third World.
That’s why some folks who actually care about poor, minority, elderly, working class and developing country families again designated April 17-23 as Green Energy Poverty Week.
For industrialized nations, “green energy poverty” refers to households in which 10% or more of family incomes is spent on natural gas and electricity costs – due to policies that compel utilities to provide ever increasing amounts of expensive, less affordable, politically preferred “green” energy. It’s a regressive tax that disproportionately affects low and fixed income families which have little money to spend beyond energy, food, clothing, rent and other basic needs. Every energy price increase hammers them harder.
Beyond our borders, the concept underscores the lot of families that enjoy none of the living standards we take for granted. They have no electricity or get it a few hours a week at random times, burn wood and dung for cooking and heating, and spend hours every day collecting fuel and hauling filthy water from miles away. Corrupt, incompetent governments and constant pressure from callous environmentalist pressure groups in rich countries perpetuate the misery, joblessness, disease, starvation and early death.
In the United States, green energy policies affect the poorest households three times more than the richest households. In fact, rising electricity prices affect all goods and services, for all electricity users: homes, offices, hospitals, schools, malls, farms and factories. With 37 million American families earning less than $24,000 per year after taxes, and 22 million households taking home less than $16,000 post-tax, it’s pretty obvious why wind and solar mandates are unfair, unsustainable and inhumane.
Unbelievably, one million mild-weather California households now live in green energy poverty, the Manhattan Institute reports. In fact, the once-Golden State now has the USA’s highest poverty rate, thanks largely to government requirements that one-third of the state’s electricity must come from “renewable” sources by 2020, and one-half by 2030. No wonder California’s rising rates are already nearly double those in Kentucky and other states that use coal and natural gas to generate electricity.
Tesla electric cars also reward wealthy buyers: with free charging stations, access to HOV lanes, and up to $10,000 in combined tax rebates. They require batteries made from lithium dug out under horrendous or nonexistent environmental, health, safety and child labor rules in Africa. The batteries cost $325 per kilowatt-hour – equal to $350 per barrel for oil (seven times the April 2017 $50.40-a-barrel price).
Spreading California policies across the United States would send the cost of heat, lights, AC, internet, and all goods and services soaring. Jobs would disappear, living standards decline, depression rates increase, drug and alcohol abuse climb, and more people die from poor health, drugs and suicide.
Over in Europe, electricity prices are double California’s current rates: 30-45 cents per kWh! Green energy policies are hammering jobs, industries, healthcare, family budgets and future prospects.
British families pay “a whopping 54% more” for electricity than average Americans. Nearly 40% of UK households are cutting back on food and other essentials, to pay for electricity. One in three UK families struggles to pay energy bills. Up to 24,000 elderly Brits die from illness and hypothermia each winter, because they cannot afford proper heat; many are forced to choose between heating and eating.
In Germany, 330,000 families had their electricity cut off in 2015, because they could not pay soaring bills. In Bulgaria, 50% of average household income is spent on energy. Greeks are cutting down trees in protected forests because they cannot afford heating oil; hundreds of thousands of acres are being destroyed across Europe for the same reason. A tenth of all EU families are now in green energy poverty.
It’s infinitely worse for billions of parents and children in Earth’s poorest regions. In Africa, India and other impoverished regions, more than two billion people still burn firewood, charcoal and dung for cooking. Millions die from lung infections caused by pollution from these open fires, millions more from intestinal diseases caused by bacteria-infested food and water, more millions because medicines are spoiled and healthcare is primitive in clinics that don’t have electricity, refrigeration or window screens.
In Uganda, “entrepreneurs” burned a village down, killing a sick child in his home, to turn the area into new forest so that the country could claim carbon credits to prevent climate change. Chad’s government banned charcoal, the mainstay for cooking in that nation, out of absurd concerns about climate change.
Africa’s desperate families hunt and cook anything that walks, crawls, flies or swims, endangered or not. They have cut down trees and brush for miles around cities and villages – turning cheetah and chimpanzee habitats into firewood and charcoal. Poverty is undeniably the worst environmental pollutant.
For the wealthy and increasingly powerful radical environmentalist movement, it is no longer about addressing real pollution problems, protecting the environment or improving human health. As UN climate officials have proudly proclaimed, it’s really about ending fossil fuel use and capitalism, redistributing the world’s wealth, and controlling people’s livelihoods, living standards and liberties.
Of course, it’s all meant to save people and planet – from exaggerated or fabricated climate cataclysms and resource depletions. But ponder the Real-World consequences during Green Energy Poverty Week.
Environmentalists profess to care deeply about America’s and the world’s poor and middle classes. But their policies and actions too often speak far more loudly than their words. We might be forgiven for asking, With friends and protectors like these, do the world’s poor really need enemies?
Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death.