CFACT’s display, “The Faces of Energy Poverty,” was designed to remind climate delegates of the harm global warming politics is doing to people who live without electricity or efficient cooking and heating. CFACT drove the point home by pinning green ribbons which read, “Stop Energy Poverty Now” on conference attendees and transporting them to the Mexican village of La Libertad where people literally live off the grid.
Mr. Revkin returned home and wrote about CFACT in the The Times in a piece titled, “‘Stop Energy Poverty.’ Great Slogan, so How?” Revkin found a contradiction between CFACT’s work on behalf of the energy poor and the challenge we’ve mounted to global warming policy and those seeking to cash in on it. He has a hard time understanding how CFACT can both distribute solar ovens to people without cooking fuel and at the same time oppose subsidies for solar power.
CFACT Executive Director, Craig Rucker, sent a detailed reply to the article which Mr. Revkin posted in its entirety on The Times web site which plainly states, “Stop energy poverty is more than a slogan, it is an achievable goal. We just need to do it.” Rucker’s reply became the subject of second article, “A Constructive Approach on Energy?” This has been an interesting series of exchanges. They suggest substantial common ground can be found, which is good news for the energy poor. Yet no matter how many times we explain in writing, email, or in conversation, Mr. Revkin can’t seem to grasp that the same principles of individual freedom and empowerment that light the path from energy poverty to development, are the principles that compel opposition to the global warming scare and the entire industry that has arisen to exploit it. Mr. Revkin apparently suffers from some form of cognitive dissonance which prevents him from seeing that providing a solar oven to a family without fuel is entirely consistent with opposition to policies which would force ratepayers to pay double or triple for electricity from solar or wind, which cannot reliably meet their energy needs.
The solar ovens, or good little solar charged battery system CFACT installed (to power student laptops) in Mexico are energy first aid. They help people mitigate their current challenge, but provide no long-term substitute for abundant, affordable power from the grid. Expecting the energy poor to limit their development to such expediences is no more constructive, nor just, than would be expecting the people of New York, London or Tokyo to do so.
Energy poverty truly is a crisis within our means to solve. If we are to do so, we cannot afford to squander our prosperity, resources and human capital on global warming policies that will enrich a few, but not alter the globe’s thermostat in any meaningful way.