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Sunday, May 24, 2015

WUWT's unethical use of the most vulnerable, denying them clean energy

Sou | 5:19 PM One comment so far. Add a comment

One thing few would accuse Anthony Watts (or any science disinformer) of is applying ethics. Today is no exception. Unethical Anthony has a hypocrisy posing as "care" in an article with a headline:"The Ethics of Climate Change" (archived here).

He's using an article by someone called Bob Lyman** to pretend that letting poorer nations sink under rising seas is good for them. Once again he is hosting someone arguing that letting people starve from drought-caused famine, die from heat exhaustion or thirst, or suffocate under heavy smog, will be better than helping them modernise, survive and thrive with lots of clean energy.

Although the last thing that most of Anthony's RWA followers would do is support foreign aid, and not one that I've seen has written an article suggesting that their nation should donate money to build power plants or electricity grid, they pretend that introducing clean energy instead of dirty energy is unethical.

Where were these "what about the poor" people during the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s? Were they out on the streets urging governments to give funds to modernise less developed nations? They were more likely to have been protesting that "our jobs are being exported" - to whatever low labour cost nation a company opened a factory in. Or buying sneakers made in some sweat shop with virtually slave labour in a pollution-ridden city, giving not a thought for the poor people working there.

Lyman Lie No. 1 "The poor"

Anthony's latest guest essayist is no exception. He starts out with falsehoods and finishes no better. Some ethics.

In the first paragraph Bob Lyman writes (my emphasis):
People who believe in the theory of catastrophic human-induced global warming (sic) claim that they want to “save the planet” and that this is the moral thing to do. They insist, however, that saving the planet requires stringent reductions in people’s use of fossil fuel energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They never talk about what that means to the poor. 
The claim that "they never talk about what that means to the poor" is completely and utterly false. And contradicted by, yes, even WUWT contradicts it. How many times have you read complaints at WUWT that climate change is just an excuse to 'redistribute" to the poor and vulnerable nations? How many times have you read at WUWT the claim that climate change is all about stealing from deniers to give to the poor?

There has been a lot of work to determine the countries that are most vulnerable to climate change. Guess what - the most vulnerable are also among the poorest nations in the world. Here are the top twenty-one most vulnerable countries, ranked in descending order of vulnerability, as shown on the ND-GAIN website:
  1. Somalia
  2. Solomon Islands
  3. Burundi
  4. Niger
  5. Chad
  6. Liberia
  7. Mali
  8. Eritrea
  9. Afghanistan
  10. Sierra Leone
  11. Sudan
  12. Papua New Guinea
  13. Rwanda
  14. Benin
  15. Uganda
  16. Gambia
  17. Mauritania
  18. Yemen
  19. Burkina Faso
  20. Dem. Rep. of the Congo
  21. Madagascar

Although it's well known that climate science disinformers want to bring back smog to the USA, now it seems they want to export as much smog as they can to poor countries. I expect they want to do that at the same time as stopping poorer nations from developing their industrial capacity. When that happens they'll complain loud and long about "shipping jobs overseas".

There is ample evidence that "they" talk about what climate change means for the poor. In an article in the Guardian, with the title "Climate change could impact the poor much more than previously thought", Dana Nuccitelli writes:
It’s widely accepted that climate change will have bigger negative impacts on poorer countries than wealthy ones. However, a new economic modeling study finds that the economic impacts on these poorer countries could be much larger than previous estimates.   

Bob Lyman Logical Fallacy 1: The straw man

In his top paragraph in his WUWT article, Bob Lyman continues:
I think that, before people decide on the ethics of the debate, they need to consider what the impact would be of sharply reducing energy consumption on the wellbeing of world’s population, and especially on the poor.
Do you see what he's done? Bob Lyman is arguing firstly that poor nations don't have energy, then that "reducing energy consumption" has an impact on poor nations. If they don't consume energy then how can reducing it affect them? And reducing energy consumption doesn't necessarily mean reducing production. It means being more energy efficient. And the issue is not so much reducing energy consumption (though that will help), it's about reducing the burning of fossil fuels, and instead producing energy from clean sources, preferable renewable sources - like wind, solar, geothermal and tides or waves.

Bob Lyman Logical Fallacy 2: Appeal to emotions

Bob then paints a picture of people living in dire poverty to tug on what few heart-strings might exist in deniersville. He writes how "Hundreds of millions of people are without the modern energy services that were available to our ancestors who lived in the nineteenth century." What he doesn't explain is where he and previous generations were over the past 150 years, when they could have been building coal-fired power plants in Somalia!

Bob Lyman Logical Fallacy 3: Non sequitur

Then he makes the claim that "coal is the backbone of modern electricity in most parts of the world".  As if he doesn't see the irony of putting eighteenth century technology (coal) in the same sentence as the word "modern".

Modern means shifting forward to the twenty first century, not imposing outdated, dirty technology on undeveloped and developing nations. If over the next few decades the world cannot shift to using twentieth century technology or that from this century, rather than 18th century technology, then humans are not nearly as innovative or clever as we'd like to think we are.

Meanwhile in the real world - business leaders call for a tax on carbon

While the Bob Lyman's of the world are wanting to sentence the world's poorest and most vulnerable people to rising seas, droughts, floods, heat waves, famine and dense smog, other business leaders and governments are urging the world to take action to reduce CO2 emissions.

Heads of some of the world's largest corporations urged governments to act more decisively - they know that we have to reduce emissions quickly.
Sure, you can take all that with a grain of salt. Oil companies will suffer much less under a carbon tax than will coal companies. Yet even though you can assume there is self-interest involved, these companies all need to take a long term view. They know that as the world warms, this will adversely affect economies world-wide, and the bottom line of their companies. Many electricity companies have been diversifying into renewables over the past few years.

From the WUWT comments

Nope - I've run out of time. The comments will be utterly predictable. I haven't bothered to read them. You can if you want to here.

**Who is Bob Lyman? Anthony Watts doesn't say. Is he Robert Lyman who "was instrumental in the development of the fiscal regime governing oil sands development", and seems opposed to people from getting clean energy?  (Or maybe he's an English Professor, though the subject matter and its treatment suggests the former rather than the latter.)

1 comment :

  1. For historians, "modern" is up to about 1945 or 1950 -- coincidentally right when we started *really* heating the place up. Electricity production itself is modern technology, initially from hydro and only later from coal.

    Nuclear, solar, and wind electric production are post-modern technologies.


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