By John Shanahan
The world has changed tremendously since the early 1800s, as the growing use of fossil fuels made life on Earth increasingly better for most of us. People have far better, longer lives. Economies are better, stronger, more vibrant, more adaptable. Health care, education, transportation have improved greatly. Most governments are more stable and peaceful. There is less human pressure on the environment.
Achieving these milestones of course required governments, businesses, professionals, teachers and students working for these goals – not extreme environmentalists constantly protesting and trying to delay or block every technological advance.
Sadly, since the 1960s, many foundations and organizations, segments of the media and many individuals have worked to prevent progress. They want to keep energy and mineral treasures in the ground and insist that nothing mankind does is safe enough. They want an undisturbed, unpopulated world for themselves and their friends. Extreme environmentalists seem determined to control the world.
It seems to make no difference to them that billions of people would suffer and die without the benefits of fossil fuels and their tremendous array of life-enhancing and life-saving byproducts.
Four organizations are leading global campaigns to prevent the use of fossil fuels and nuclear energy: the Union of Concerned Scientists, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and Greenpeace. Many others gladly and proudly join them.
In determined opposition to these inhumane efforts are four organizations that help lead efforts to make a better world through use of technology: the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow, Cornwall Alliance, Nuclear Africa and Association des Ecologistes pour le Nucléaire. Many others have joined them in seeking improvements for people and planet.
Many individuals have contributed to making a better world through the use of fossil fuel and nuclear power. The world owes them a debt of gratitude. More than eight hundred of their articles, PowerPoint Presentations, books and videos are available here.
Sadly, after decades at the forefront of assisting humanity, the United States and Europe have largely abandoned their nuclear energy related help for the rest of the world. Along with the United Nations, World Bank and various multi-national development banks, they do not even support large-scale coal, natural gas or hydroelectric generation projects. For at least a decade, their financial and technological assistance has been centered around unreliable, weather-dependent wind, solar and biofuel projects.
Meanwhile, ironically, China and Russia are making tremendous progress in improving the lives of their own citizens and people in other countries – albeit amid extensive military buildups, aggressive territorial expansions, and onerous demands and restrictions on their client countries.
Russia’s Rosatom and Gazprom are providing extensive energy and support projects for other countries. China is using its new energy expertise and economic strength to gain influence and access resources around the world, to meets its own critical energy and raw material needs.
Yes, the world is changing rapidly. Populations are growing and becoming wealthier, healthier and more restive. Technologies are advancing at an unprecedented pace. Earth’s climate is changing, mostly due to complex natural causes.
Government and economic leadership must change with them. The best future for most people includes stable governments, strong economies, freedom, equality, respect for people and the environment, and better planning for mega urban centers. It can be done and will make the world a much better place.
However, if extremist environmental organizations and hostile outside forces continue to gain a death grip on free economies, countries will fade away. New powers will replace those that have existed in different forms for hundreds or thousands of years. Conquests have driven continental and global change before and will be attempted again. Overpowering from beyond their borders will bring some countries down, while collapse from within will doom others.
The Eco Experts promote solar panels and write grand reports (see their blog) on how mankind is supposedly causing large scale toxic pollution that will lead to catastrophic manmade climate change and end human and wildlife habitability in many parts of the world. Too many in the media – even Forbes magazine – promote their messages and give them far more recognition than they deserve or could ever get on their own.
The result is that more and more people will be starved of the reliable, affordable energy they need to improve and sustain their lives and living standards. It is but one example of many extreme environmentalist efforts to weaken the USA and Europe. It will deprive the world of help from outstanding pillars of democracy, freedom and economic prosperity.
A recent Eco Experts report identifies what they say are the ten most polluted cities in the world. The list includes Paris, Istanbul, Moscow, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Los Angeles. While very few cities are as clean as Zurich, these six cities have prospering economies, great tourism, impressive architecture and cultural attractions – and generally very clean air and water.
The Eco Experts report is highly misleading and largely ignores real urban problems. In the 1950s, London and Pittsburgh had dirtier air than Paris or Istanbul ever had. As Cornwall Alliance spokesman Calvin Beisner notes in a devastating critique, the “Eco Experts” report displays an almost sophomoric grasp of real-world urban problems in developed and developing countries.
What are real leading factors for human suffering and shortening of life expectancy in urban areas? Evil dictators (Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zedong), corrupt politicians, thoughtless businesses (Ken Saro-Wiwa) – and eco-imperialists (as Paul Driessen has documented). They are main reasons billions of people still do not have reliable energy supplies, decent economies, increased prosperity and opportunity, or better education, healthcare systems, drinking water, wastewater systems and solid waste management.
Extreme environmental groups focus on very small amounts of extremely small airborne particles and carbon dioxide, the non-toxic trace gas that is essential for nearly all plant and animal life. This is totally wrong. Imposing wind and solar energy to replace fossil fuels and nuclear makes countries energy weak – and causes suffering, chaos and premature deaths by the millions. By contrast, countries that stick with fossil fuels and nuclear power become and remain energy strong.
A second Eco Experts report is equally outlandish. This one maps out their forecast of countries that will supposedly not survive man-made climate change. Going around the globe at the same latitude one might expect similar results. But there is no consistency of their color coding for risk level. Greenland shows no data, while equally empty Northern Canada next to it has the lowest risk level.
Similarly, Bolivia, Zimbabwe, Madagascar and Australia are at about the same latitude south. Australia, already a very dry climate that until recently was switching to unreliable wind and solar power is classified as having the least risk, while lush but energy-poor Bolivia, Zimbabwe and Madagascar are predicted to be at much higher risk of failure to survive supposed man-made climate change.
Who buys solar panels from Eco Experts, much less accepts their unsound reports on toxic pollution and country collapse from man-made climate change? Driessen presents a far better analysis of what went right and what is going wrong in his recent talk, “How Prosperity Can Save the Planet.” It’s a fascinating tour through the modern history of energy, health and prosperity. I recommend it highly.
John Shanahan is a civil engineer and president of Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy-USA of Denver, Colorado.