Development

  • Does the UN have Africa in an emissions arm lock?

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    The rich kids are trying to push Africa around, bullying African countries into accepting their opinions and, even worse, adopting their “solutions.” Africa should resist the moral and psychological pressure being exerted on it to agree to binding limits on carbon dioxide emissions. Any such agreement would place African countries at the mercy of rich UN nations without any benefit accruing to Africa.

  • The Gray Hair Index

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    Soon, the Comission is due to wrap up the current debate on energy efficiency measures, introducing a GDP based paneuropan standard, somehow intended to be applicable all over the continent. Quite a daunting task, and not surprisingly, both business, Green NGO’s and national governments are rather sceptical. This article sums up a lot of the debate.

  • The Fat Lady Doesn’t Sing – Yet

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    by Einar Du Rietz

    You get Tosca instead. It’s a pity I could not use the brilliant headline from this article: Apocalypse Not, by Matt Ridley, in Wired Science. It sums up a lot.

    “Over the five decades since the success of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962 and the four decades since the success of the Club of Rome’s The Limits to Growth in 972, prophecies of doom on a colossal scale have become routine. Indeed, we seem to crave ever-more-frightening redictions—we are now, in writer Gary Alexander’s word, apocaholic. The past half century has brought us arnings of population explosions, global famines, plagues, water wars, oil exhaustion, mineral shortages, falling sperm counts, thinning ozone, acidifying rain, nuclear winters, Y2K bugs, mad cow epidemics, killerbees, sex-change fish, cell-phone-induced brain-cancer epidemics, and climate catastrophes.

    So far all of these specters have turned out to be exaggerated. True, we have encountered obstacles, public-health emergencies, and even mass tragedies. But the promised Armageddons—the thresholds that cannot be uncrossed, the tipping points that cannot be untipped, the existential threats to Life as We Know It—have consistently failed to materialize.”

  • Increasing Resources

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    Oil prices might go up and down, and as for the price of petrol, in most of Europe it’s a matter of taxes. When I was a kid, in the 70’s, I was told there was some sort of Oil Cricis, and then with everything happening in the Middle East and today it’s Syria – and still […]

  • A Cold Playground

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    Ask me about a Doom Sayer or Dr Killjoy, and I’ll direct you to Greenpeace. First, the problem was that the poles were melting (they are not, in any lasting way) and that the polar beers faced extinction (the population is increasing). Then, the prospect of drilling for gas and oil in the Arctics, possible […]

  • Honor as Due

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    “Welcome to the United Nations. It’s your world,” reads the top banner.

    Thank you very much, but I’ll stick to the part that belongs to me, while – also – doing my modest share in trying to persuade other people to please not make a mess of the rest of the world.

  • After Rio – what next?

    The Rio+20 World Environmental Conference has come and gone. The “Plus 20” comes from the fact that it took place twenty years after the first such conference, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. Between these dates, I was a delegate at the 2002 world environment conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. Ever since 1992 I have watched the eco-evolution taking place.

  • More Than Rio

    by Einar Du Rietz

    The Rio circus has barely started and already, reports are streaming in on plans for international taxation schemes, close to police power for the UNEP…believe me, the list will be longer. For regular reports from our team in Rio, check out www.cfact.org .

    Meanwhile, in Europe, the environment ministers don’t want to appear less bold.

    Reports Euractiv: “The EU’s 27 environment ministers have set out the key elements of the bloc’s environment policy for decades to come, calling for “an ambitious and compelling 2050 vision for a green Europe” that decouples economic growth from environmental degradation.”

    Lot’s of things will happen before 2050, no doubt, and though this policy has been carried through many instanses and is basically an extension of previous programs, you can rest assured that it will have impact on, if not the environment, the economy and your daily life. It should be pointed out that, in the byzantine circles of Brussels and Strasbourg, the major burden for the moment, will be the same: The tax payers money.

  • The News That Never Were For Real

     by Einar Du Rietz …but very well could have been, as so many people – including yours truly – believed in, was the appointment of the dictator Mugabe as UN boss for “tourism“. The apparent truth, as we all know now was that UN Tourism had urged world leaders to promote tourism in their countries. […]

  • Happy Earth Day Humans

    by Einar Du Rietz

    Only weeks after the peculiar, entirely symbolical and possibly dangerous Earth Hour gimmick, it’s now the 42’nd Earth Day. Hard to be against the Earth, but I’ve never understood the tendency to use these events to suggest an ongoing conflict between the earth and humanity.  

    CFACT International President David Rothbard comments:

    “Celebrate them all, we should. But as faithful followers of CFACT know, today’s environmentalism (at least the kind that gets all the attention) isn’t so much about reveling in the beauty of nature and its amazements as it is in using this lofty matter to hammer away at human productivity, prosperity, and plenty. Saddest and ironic of all, of course, is that people prospering is the very thing that helps us steward the environment the best.”

     You might add that without humans, there wouldn’t be an Earth Day, or that without human action, in the form of development and exploitation, there would be no humans. Ecological nostalgia is sometimes tempting to some, but I believe we all realize that if time travel was possible, none of us would survive even minutes in a prehistoric era.

     So, let’s take the opportunity to celebrate the innovations that increasingly is making it possible to lead a life even in areas still ridden by hardship. Not of prehistoric proportions, but at least with meagre possibilities to adjust housing and clothing to the weather, choose what we eat, or even have access to fresh drinking water.

    Today’s sunny news is that Brittish scientists now have shown that hidden groundwater resources wating to be exploited in Africa, may amount to a hundred times the more shallow wells being used today.

  • They Don’t Want To Hurt You – They Just Want Your Money

    by Einar Du Rietz

    Might appreciate some real support - not corruption and stupidity

    The heroic boy scouts collected money, went to a village in deepest Africa and helped develop a well. A few month later, excessive use had dried it up and the final result was an extension of the desert.

    Examples of unintended consequences (and sometimes plain stupidity) in development aid are numerous, some probably myths by now. Distributing loads of pork to Muslim countries. Rushing factory building until the installation collapse on top of people. The literature is also quite extensive. A useful introduction, or summary may be this.

    Important to remember is that humanitarian catastrophes are seldom, if ever, caused by real villains in these cases, hence the words unintended and aid. Wars, planned famine and genocides are indeed orchestrated by evil, but they are never intended by the do-gooders.

    The problems occur both with voluntary help and government programs, though the latter, for natural reason, tend to be more dangerous. As a matter of fact, lot’s of people working with government aid are smart, caring people, but often trapped in the system. One such hazard is the idea, launched some decades ago, and implemented in some countries, to legislate allocation of a minimum level of GDP to the foreign aid budget. Both the government, and the associated authorities are then forced to spend the annual funds.

    Some countries try to make the best of the situation, for example by allocating funds to emergency help rather than budget support. Pouring money into a corrupt countries state budget most often leads to, in the less evil scenario, the money going straight into a Swiss bank account, or, which is worse, into buying weaponry used against neighbours or the country’s own population. On the other hand, budget support can also be the only way to boost investments in infrastructure. An alternative to building governmental roads and airports is of course to let private companies both develop, build and own. Such investments tend, if they are even allowed, however to be quite risky for the entrepreneur, facing the constant threat of both war and plain nationalization. The only simple solution, if not sufficient, seems to be to, to the extent possible, minimize governmental aid and let the not so small private, international networks do the job.

  • More Hot Innovations

    by Einar Du Rietz Few things make me as happy as innovative solutions to environmental, and thus human, problems. The most recent innovation that caught my eye was the prototype for Ezystove, an an ultra simple stove, now being tried in Namibia. Production will probably take place in Namibia and Kenya, and the idea is […]

  • Innovation Saves The World It Makes Go Round

    by Einar Du Rietz

    Driver Still Behind the Wheel

    I love a sunny story and the most recent one I stumbled upon, cherished in the environmental movement, is a recent innovation – still under development – of a new method to turn toxic textile.factory effluent into clean water.

    Go for it, Maria Jonstrup!

    One of the most disturbing ingredients of the environmental debate, is the tendency to find a conflict between a decent environment and scientific and industrial innovations. While some, and indeed Dr Jonstrup’s, are admittedly labelled Green, others are seen as the enemy. What’s really the historical perspective, if we agree that environment means the living conditions for humans?

    To make a travesty of Howard Roark’s court speech in The Fountainhead: Once upon a time, one man found out how to tame fire. He was probably burned at the stake by the local environmental organization.

  • Lighten Up – Again

    by Einar Du Rietz

    The tradition of lighting a candle, or a fire, to guide travellers and visitors is probably as old as the tamed fire. With the invention of electricity and the light bulb, it also became more convenient and safer.

    Since some years back, another – imposed – tradition is the so called Earth Hour on Saturday, when politicians and environmentalists, led by WWF expect you to turn out the lights.

    My own tradition is to write about this every year, and the most encouraging parallel tradition of turning on your lights during the same hour is spreading, for example on Facebook.

  • High Energy

    by Einar Du Rietz Yesterday, I witnessed a courageous team save lives by clearing the roof tops from snow and ice. There has already been casualties this year, caused by falling ice, so I regard these fellows as the heroes of the season. It took – skilled and expensive – manpower, but heavy equipment, including a lift […]

  • Global Warming Out Debated

    Oxford Union Chooses Economic Growth Over Climate Change

    Debate Win for CFACT Advisor Lord Christopher Monckton

    Last week the Oxford Union, one of the world’s premier debate societies, chose economic growth over climate change by a vote of 133-110.  The vote by students at an elite U.K. university illustrates the continued shift of  public support away from the global warming scare.

    The proponents of global warming policy always seem to lose whenever they encounter a fair forum where both sides receive equal time.  Key warmists such as Nobel Laureate Al Gore and the IPCC’s Rajendra Pachauri avoid debate at all costs.   Lord Monckton has repeatedly offered to debate Mr. Gore.  Mr. Gore if you truly want us all to agree to massive restrictions to our freedom and a lower standard of living it’s time you step up and debate.

  • And Now For the Good News

    by Einar Du Rietz

    How splendid in this often pessimist debate, to get the chance to present some good news!

    According to the global health statistics from WHO, things are going in the right direction, in some cases remarkably well. Since 1990, infant mortality has decreased by 30 percent. Malnutrition is going down, access to drinking water has gone up, and even the spread of HIV has been halted.

    It’s still a long way to go, but at least the WHO points out, in their own analysis that the most essential prerequisite for the creation of healthier societies is growth and sound politics, in other – though not directly WHO’s – words, free markets and democracy. One of the few complaints in the study, is that chronic diseases that used to be a problem for the industrialized world, now are more common in developing countries. Sad enough, but a rather natural consequence of decreased epidemics and higher life expectancy. Call it a luxury problem if you wish, but at least I – with my rather bad allergy – is happy to have been born and still be alive. About a hundred years ago, when allergies did not exist in Europe, that would have been a lot less likely. Two of the both worse and common illnesses in the developed world (The developing countries, sadly, are still fighting with Malaria, due to western stupidity some decades ago), diabetes and cancer – both chronic – are horrendous things. Scientists are working frantically to find the best cures. What is needed for this endeavour is nothing less than expensive education and research, technological development and heavy investments . Even the companies are pitching in, creating less expensive equipment not dependent on a steady access to electricity.

  • Live and Let Survive

    by Einar Du Rietz

    As tragic as it is, I can’t help being hopeful about the rebuilding after the catastrophe on Haiti. Emergency aid, especially coordination, is difficult to say the least. Sometimes it seems as coordination is what is not needed, but rather individual initiatives. Naturally, people tend to get in each-others way, but a common mission can create spontaneous order. This of course does not include the looters and vultures, or subsequent lynchings. why the need for a civil society is a paramount part of the overall efforts.

    Plain stupidities however, seem to have been rather scarce. One lady recently managed to publish a lengthy article claiming that missionaries were the worst problems, as Christianity would be a threat to the traditional voodoo religion. The born again christian diva Carola, twice winner of the Eurovision song contest, is walking around the ruins contemplating that this is the biblical sign of the Armageddon. And, I guess, there are some other compassionate air heads there too.

    The thing is, they don’t really cause any harm. Carola even takes care of an orphan. If we closed the border to all religious zealots, we could very well be doomed.

  • Monsanto, mon amour

    photo_7818_20090819In truth, there is no such thing as absolute safety; but this fundamental human need may explain the excessive search for certainty in particular as the world seems awash with a constant flow of disconcerting events.

    It seems obvious then to assume that risk is the opposite of safety. But it isn’t: as inaction also entails risks, we need instead to properly assess the benefits of risk-taking, such as accepting new technologies, medicines or – yes even – accepting that a global government will not avert all risks.