Better Living Through Electricity

Power for the people

You cannot champion the poor, but support anti-energy policies that perpetuate poverty

Guest post by Paul Driessen

In a scene reminiscent of Colonial Williamsburg, for 16 years Thabo Molubi and his partner had made furniture in South Africa’s outback, known locally as the “veld,” using nothing but hand and foot power. When an electrical line finally reached the area, they installed lights, power saws and drills. Their productivity increased fourfold, and they hired local workers to make, sell and ship far more tables and chairs of much higher quality, thereby also commanding higher prices.

Living standards soared, and local families were able to buy and enjoy lights, refrigerators, televisions, computers and other technologies that Americans and Europeans often take for granted. The area was propelled into the modern era, entrepreneurial spirits were unleashed, new businesses opened, and hundreds of newly employed workers joined the global economy.

People benefited even on the very edge of the newly electrified area. Bheki Vilakazi opened a small shop where people could charge their cell phones before heading into the veld, where instant communication can mean life or death in the event of an accident, automobile breakdown or encounter with wild animals.

Thousands of other African communities want the same opportunities. But for now they must continue to live without electricity, or have it only sporadically and unpredictably a few hours each week. Over 700 million Africans – and some two billion people worldwide – still lack regular, reliable electricity and must rely on toxic wood and dung fires for most or all of their heating and cooking needs.

Mothers with babies strapped on their backs must bend over open fires, breathing poisonous fumes and being struck down by debilitating, often fatal lung diseases. Homes, schools, shops and clinics lack the most rudimentary electrical necessities. Impoverished families must live in mud-and-thatch or cinderblock houses that allow mosquitoes to fly in, feast on human blood and infect victims with malaria. And parents and children must carry and drink untreated water that swarms with bacteria and parasites which cause cholera, diarrhea and river blindness. When the sun goes down, their lives shut down.

The environmental costs are equally high. In Rwanda gorilla habitats are being turned into charcoal, to fuel cooking fires. In Zambia, entrepreneurs harvest trees by the thousands along highways, selling them to motorists heading back to their non-electrified homes in rural areas and even parts of cities. As quickly as First World charities hold plant-a-tree days, Africans cut trees for essential cooking.

If eco-activists have their way, it will be like this for decades to come.

In his DotEarth blog for the New York Times, columnist Andrew Revkin lamented this intolerable situation. “Access to the benefits that come with ample energy trumps concerns about their tiny contribution of greenhouse gas emissions,” he wrote. But despite agreeing with the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow on this central issue, Revkin took issue on several items.

CFACT’s “Stop energy poverty” slogan is clever, he wrote. But where are its “substantive proposals for getting affordable energy” to those who don’t have it? Africa sits on vast deposits of natural gas and liquid condensates. Perhaps CFACT could find a business model that can lead to capturing, instead of flaring, those “orphan fuels,” Revkin suggested, while wondering why the Committee offers solar ovens to a Yucatan village and uses its slogan in part to challenge global warming scares.

Converting orphan fuels to productive uses is a terrific idea. That’s why CFACT opposes restrictions on using these fuels and wants to help find investors and build local support for gas-fired power plants that can electrify and modernize homes and businesses, create jobs, improve health and living standards, purify water, and launch companies that can build modern homes. Non-orphan deposits of oil, “tight oil,” natural gas, shale gas and coal could do likewise.

Unconventional US shale gas reserves alone are now estimated at about 57 trillion cubic meters (2000 trillion cubic feet) – enough for 100 years at current US consumption rates, on top of conventional reserves. Africa almost certainly has large gas, oil, coal and uranium deposits of its own, lying untapped beneath numerous poor countries, waiting to fuel an economic boom – if environmentalists, self-interested companies and government agencies would stop using global warming and other scares to justify their opposition to large-scale generating plants.

Until then, the Committee will continue providing interim measures – solar ovens, used laptops and small solar-powered charging systems – while also training people in computer and business skills, and assisting Yucatan and Ugandan villagers with tree farm and other projects.

All these are akin to the help that first responders provide, before getting disaster victims to hospitals. They are important steps toward individual and community empowerment that comes from having property rights, free enterprise, and full access to modern technologies that improve, enhance and safeguard lives. But none of this is possible without reliable, affordable energy to power those technologies.

“If abundant, affordable, clean energy and water were readily available to everyone, all the other problems would become much easier to solve,” Nobel Laureate Richard Smalley observed. Of course, “clean” does not have to mean non-carbon dioxide emitting, though Mr. Revkin seems reluctant to support energy that comes from fossil fuels, notes CFACT executive director Craig Rucker. “However, you cannot champion the poor, while supporting policies that perpetuate poverty,” Rucker emphasizes.

Modern coal-fired power plants are far cleaner than their predecessors, posing few environmental or health problems, except in the minds and propaganda of eco-activists. They are infinitely cleaner than the open fires that provide pitiful, polluting, often deadly energy for the barest necessities. Gas-fired plants are cleaner still, and safe, modern nuclear plants could also support major economic booms.

To suggest that impoverished nations must worry more about CO2 than about tuberculosis, cholera or malaria is absurd. To tell them their energy options must be limited to expensive, unreliable, insufficient wind and solar power is immoral. To impose anti-hydrocarbon restrictions on poor countries ensures that they will remain poor and diseased, with life expectancies in the low forties.

As Dambisa Moyo and others suggest, it is time for rich Western nations to provide less aid, fewer restrictions – and much more trade, investment and banking expertise and opportunity; business, agricultural and property rights know-how; and energy technologies that will harness and utilize abundant, reliable, affordable hydrocarbon energy. They also need to stop propagating scare stories and imposing restrictions on the use of hybrid and genetically modified seeds to reduce malnutrition, and insecticides to reduce disease.

CFACT’s goal is simple, says Rucker. “Give poor families, communities and nations the same opportunities we had, the same freedoms to chart their destinies, the same rights to create and manage their own wealth, develop their own free and healthy institutions, solve their own environmental and health challenges – and even make their own mistakes along the way.”

Brazil, China, India and Indonesia are not about to stop building new coal-fired power plants; nor are developed countries going to tear their plants down or abandon their fossil fuel-powered vehicles. Africa and other poor regions need to adopt the same attitude – and also seek investors and trade opportunities, rather than just more aid that is often merely life support for corrupt dictators and bureaucrats.

CFACT’s plan is also simple, Rucker adds. Help now with solar ovens, laptops and other first aid. Challenge and change harmful, immoral, lethal policies that limit access to energy and other modern technologies, hobble job creation, impair health and kill millions. And help persuade investors and Third World communities to provide the energy technologies that will make health and prosperity happen.

“We hope Andrew Revkin and millions of other caring people will join us in supporting a global energy quest that advances human progress, while limiting actual environmental risks.”

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84 thoughts on “Better Living Through Electricity

  1. while I endorse giving them power, the claims re fires being toxic to cook on is crap!
    why not show them how to make simple flues to direct smoke away, ah but then traditionally the smoke also keeps the mozzies away and fumigates seed stored indoors and cures fish and meats. not ll old fashioned stuff is bad.
    I prefer woodstoves for cooking personally, and thats choice not duress.
    until 1st world barons manage to buy up the land they wont be willing to develop it, ie the china eu and russians are using arfra as a food bowl ,employing few, taking water and access from locals, and shipping it out. ditto chinas buy up of massive fishing rights while the africans starve.

  2. Well said – I hope that you can allow me to quote you on occasions!

    I am hopeful, however. Leaders in developing countries get this more and more, and pay only lip service to the pointless activist agendas coming through developed world institutions (and the limited funds available from the “mechanisms”).

    Thank you for encouraging me to keep battling western politicos on this critical point. But when the African Development Bank is forced to focus on climate change rather than economic supply it can be tough going! Fortunately the increasingly effective leaders in developing countries will finally drive the agenda.

  3. I strongly agree and was therefore dismayed when Christian Aid – and other charities I have long supported – campaigned last year (fortunately without success) to block a World Bank loan to enable South Africa to build a modern coal-fired power station. They failed because China, India and other developing countries supported the loan.

    I think it immoral that many of the world’s most vulnerable and deprived people – especially children – can have their hope of a better life prejudiced because comfortable people in the West, people who take the benefits of reliable energy for granted, are obsessed by the unverified CAGW hypothesis.

  4. That CFACT has reached Revkin is good. Too bad his blinders were on. I have tried the same argument with greenies I know and get kind of a blank stare along with some counter argument about capitalism or big oil being the “real” culprit. Forty years of well package propaganda in our schools is going to take a while to reverse.

  5. President Obama should go on national TV and/or before Congress and tell them
    exactly what Mr. Driessen is saying in this piece. Unfortunately, Obama is a green Lefty himself, so this isn’t going to happen. That makes Obama part of the problem — and a significant part of the tragedy.

  6. Above it says: “But for now they must continue to live without electricity, or have it only sporadically and unpredictably a few hours each week.”

    This is why battery technology is so important . . . I like the Steve Jobs approach . . smaller and smaller holds more and more . . .
    And we need the smaller and more now . . . not fed slowly so that you are buying the same thing over and over again . . . and like used clothes we should “recycle”. . .

    Latitude says: …”what you’re describing is capitalism” “Capitalism is an economic system in which the “means of production are privately owned” and operated for profit.”

    Where I sit . . . it’s called sharing . . . constructive knowledge . . .

    The question I ask often is: Is one trying to make a living, or is he trying to make a “killing”! Profit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Profit_(economics)

    Communicating what I MEAN. . . is difficult for me . . .

    Energy – Electricity is a “means of production” . . .

  7. Greenis go to bed at night with the gnawing fear of healthy, happy, prosperous
    dar-skinned people. I have said this for years and beleive it ….
    Watch what happens whan a local Indian Tribe gets a casino ,or a powerplant, or a mine or oil…..

  8. Robin Guenier says:
    April 2, 2011 at 8:55 am
    “I strongly agree and was therefore dismayed when Christian Aid – and other charities I have long supported – campaigned last year (fortunately without success) to block a World Bank loan to enable South Africa to build a modern coal-fired power station. They failed because China, India and other developing countries supported the loan.”

    That’s great news!

  9. Bowen says:
    April 2, 2011 at 9:20 am
    “Latitude says: …”what you’re describing is capitalism” “Capitalism is an economic system in which the “means of production are privately owned” and operated for profit.””

    What’s your problem with that? As long as the formation of monopolies is prevented – by the state, through laws and regulations -, competition will drive down the prices and erode the profits; driving companies to innovate and create better products. How will your “Sharing Of Knowledge” provide affordable products?

  10. Modern coal-fired power plants are far cleaner than their predecessors, posing few environmental or health problems, except in the minds and propaganda of eco-activists. They are infinitely cleaner than the open fires that provide pitiful, polluting, often deadly energy for the barest necessities

    Ross McKitrick has a very similar view, one which I agree completely with:

    2 minute video

  11. The problem with bringing people up to first world energy and education standards is that large numbers of educated, energy wealthy people pose a serious threat to the existing dictatorship style of governing. They end up wanting to have a say in how the country is run and who runs it. Look at the Middle East.

  12. @ DirkH who said

    “As long as the formation of monopolies is prevented – by the state, through laws and regulations -, competition will drive down the prices and erode the profits; driving companies to innovate and create better products.”

    Thankyou for sharing that . . . it’s important given the “political climate” . . .

  13. houses that allow mosquitoes to fly in, feast on human blood and infect victims with malaria

    30,000,000 people have died from the ban on DDT. We have very comfortable lives in the Western world. After we get done eating popcorn from our microwave while watching a Blu-Ray movie on our big screen HD tv (or playing Wii video games on it) it’s easy to forget there are people living with the danger of dying from malaria. We don’t give mosquito bites a second thought.

    Michael Crichton with an excellent summary on why DDT should have never been banned:

    4:36 video

  14. sadly, the one thing that has to be done before any of these measures can help is to get rid of the corrupt and rapacious governments most impoverished countries have.

  15. Africa taking the brunt again.

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100082087/climate-change-the-new-eugenics/

    “The important point to note is that 100 years ago, work like Galton’s was at the cutting edge of scientific research. Racism wasn’t some backward-looking reactionary ideology: it was the state of the art and people then believed in it as readily as people today BUY the theory of man-made climate change.”

    From the channel 4 series, Civilization: Is the West History?

    http://www.channel4.com/programmes/civilization-is-the-west-history/episode-guide/series-1/episode-4

  16. Capitalism is what naturally happens when you have free men and women. Men and women that are living under a code of laws that prevents forceful efforts to control them. Under such a rule of law, only the government can enforce a monopoly for if a company tries, they will have competition. The higher the price, the great the competition will be.

  17. Amino Acids in Meteorites: don’t say “ban on DDT”. It is not true, and easily rebutted.

    Instead, say “decades of multinational environmental advocacy group effort to minimize the manufacture and use of DDT, in which advocacy/campaigners dedicated every waking moment to, among others:
    – influencing UN policy statements and funding criteria to be anti-DDT
    – influencing first world aid policies and funding criteria to be anti-DDT
    – advocating for aid spending on any form of malaria control that did not include DDT while actively undermining any form of malaria control that included even a smidgeon of DDT
    – campaigning at senior levels of aid recipient countries to ensure those countries adopted non-DDT control practices and programs, ensuring those countries understood they would get more aid that way
    – demonizing any company that continued to manufacture DDT”

    and of course I could continue the list. Never in my life have I seen a group of people work so hard to achieve an outcome – minimization of DDT usage, to levels that amounted to a de facto “ban” – and then work so hard to spin the message “there was no ban”. What they are saying, under the rhetoric, is “although we worked really, really hard to get rid of DDT, we failed, so there was no ban, so there!”

  18. I think most of the posters here need to be sent to sustainability re-education camps. Don’t you know the millions of people in South Asia and Africa who don’t have electricty, access to clean water, or medical care are living in sustainable societies. What is wrong with an avergae life expectancy of less than 45 years. Oh, and the prohibition on DDT killing 30,000,000 people, what a benefit it the planet. It can’t sustain as many people as it already has. How would it cope with even more.

    More seriously, I think articles like these need to be given the widest circulation possible. It is amazing how many sustainability conferences are held each year where they trot out some “expert” who extolls the virtues of living in villages without safe water and electricty.

  19. Sam Hall says: “Capitalism is what naturally happens when you have free men and women” . . .

    Say what you like. . . some people think it is their “God Given Right” to be free to be a “Huckster” . . . . Thus, coined the “huckster syndrome”. . . Al Gore has/had it . . so did Mr. Ponzi . . .

    Some people think it is their “God Given Right” to be “free” to be to micro-manage private actions of citizen through myriad of methods. And there are plenty out there say . . here, here!!

    It (Liberty AND Justice) is the never ending balancing act of “humpty dumpty” who sits on that fence.
    And it will take all a countries “horses & men” (resources) to put that humpty dumpty back together again!

    This is one of the hardest subjects to discuss . . . because of varying needs & wants of individuals . . and relative scarcity of resources not to mention economies to scale . . . (in my opinion of course).

  20. “Mothers with babies strapped on their backs must bend over open fires…”

    Oh come on. They can’t put the baby down even when they cook dinner? Give me a break.

    This is a rhetoric, a blatant attempt to sway the emotions, not an attempt to persuade or inform.

  21. Sam Hall – pretty much squares with Rand, but Rand’s extreme idealism – if only it were justified – depends on levels of integrity that are alien to the great majority of human beings. The freedom that capitalism depends on tends to attract and enrich the greedy, dishonest, and outright exploitative, usually at the expense of the hard working, trusting and honest.

    So far as concerns the west’s attitude towards giving Africans a leg up is concerned, they’d rather bomb Afghanistan back to the Stone Age than take, or even encourage with support, the basic steps necessary to empower the poorest of Africa and bring them into the age of electricity.

    My experience of life has taught me that there are many good people out there, working away quietly in the main, but that they rarely have access to the levers of power, for obvious reasons unfortunately. It was ever thus and will remain so I suspect.

    Rand mistakenly believed that we are born tabula rasa, and therefore that men could be made better by the best example . . . perhaps a justified error in her time, but it renders a great deal of her thinking – not all of it – obsolete . . . But we can dream . . Capitalism as she saw it would be a very fine system indeed . . . but it’s an ideal that’ll never be realised because of human nature. And Africa’s ascent – if that’s a fair way to describe the moral changes that will occur along the way – will be a long struggle while western – and now eastern – governments, as well as big business, serve their own interests first and with little real concern for anyone who gets in their way.

  22. If anyone is still inclined to question Mr. Driessen’s premise, I suggest you peruse this graph

    If the countries of Africa had, since the 70s, embraced a path similar to China and India of easing restrictions on people working for their own personal benefit and aggressively expanding energy production we would be rapidly approaching the point where the elimination of human poverty might actually look like an achievable goal. As it is, the development of the economies of China and India means that for the first time in human history we are living in a world in which a majority of the human population can reasonably be classified as middle class. Where middle class is defined as possessing sufficient income beyond subsistence levels, that they have significant discretionary money.
    If Africa had been allowed to develop similarly, many of the world’s real crises would be well on the way to solution. Since achieving middle class status is accompanied by a dramatic decline in birth rates, we’d be looking at arriving at a stable world population much nearer in the future and at a much lower level than the 9-10 billion which is now usually projected. This could be happening even with expanding life spans, which would likely be occurring do to improving medical care and declining disease, especially in Africa.
    Instead we have had 40 years of UN dominated antidevelopment development which, if we lived in any reasonable kind of world, should classified as a crime against humanity on par with the worst perpetrated by Hitler, Stalin or Mao. If we allow ourselves to be cowed into continuing this criminal path, based on some fanciful demonization of CO2, posterity will rightly classify us with all those “good Germans” who were willing to acquiesce to Hitler’s murderous schemes and we will richly deserve our fate.

  23. dlr says:
    April 2, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    “Mothers with babies strapped on their backs must bend over open fires…”

    Oh come on. They can’t put the baby down even when they cook dinner? Give me a break.

    This is a rhetoric, a blatant attempt to sway the emotions, not an attempt to persuade or inform.

    I presume you haven’t lived in Africa, or any of the other 3rd/4th world countries. Babies are rarely put down, you will see mothers hoeing gardens, cooking, collecting water with their baby in a sling on their back at all times. They don’t have cribs/bassinets/chairs to put babies in, most have a bare hut with a straw pallet to sleep on.

    Instead of letting your bias loose on the keyboard, go live there, then come back and you will understand why I, and others in this forum promote cheap electricity for 3rd world countries as a priority, and not just the tinker toy solar panels so they have light bulbs, but full scale generating plants.

  24. Nuclear energy seems practical because the nuclear industry is lied to about the actual numbers and consequences of disasters. They really believe that more people died at Chappaquiddick than at Three Mile Island (try 3000) and that this was America’s worst nuclear disaster (worse ones were more successfully covered up).

    More extreme is the disaster at Chernobyl. The industry actually believes that a total of 31 people died in that disaster. In fact, 2 died immediately from burns from radiation exposure many times the lethal dose, 29 died in hospitals from an American doctor’s well-publicized efforts to save 31 by bone marrow transpants (he saved two), hundreds of workers were asked to shovel hot radioactive waste down from the roofs of adjacent reactors onto the ground, and they all died in the next few years, helicopter pilots died, and 130,000 military got one fast run to build that sarcophagus–most died within 15 years.

    Then there were the civilians. The Soviet Union collapsed a few years later, supposedly from Ronnie Reagan’s excellent leadership of the USA. But some think the collapse was due to health effects from Chernobyl. Life expectancy dropped by 5 years, supposedly due to discouragement from the economic collapse. Was it really due to Chernobyl?

    The Soviet Union had over 200 million citizens at the time. Life expectancy drop of five years was a little less than 10%–I will round it up to 10%. So there was an equivalent of 20 million lives lost in the civilian population. But these lives lost are entire-lifetime equivalents, and that undercounts them. It is fairer to double the figure to 40 million.

    So we go from “31” to “40 million,” a difference of six orders of magnitude. But this does not count the entirety of Europe, which was so heavily irradiated that there are pastures in Britian unused to this day. Add around another 40 million lives. Then there is the rest of the world, which had much less contamination, and not likely more than another 20 million premature deaths, except in miscarriages, which may have been greater.

    All in all, an underestimate of about 7 orders of magnitude in deaths and the collapse of one of the world’s greatest countries. Nor is there the slightest acknowledgement of Dr. Sternglass’ work indicating that brain damage does not have to result in an obviously retarded individual. His work showed that America lost IQ points on its smartest citizens as a result of low-level fallout from bomb testing. This inability of the nuclear industry to face reality prevents them from making the industry truly safe.

    That is my second most important reason for opposing Nuclear power except for a few plants in spacefaring nations. The most important reason is that nuclear power is our starship fuel and should not be wasted here on Earth.

  25. Mothers with babies on their backs – yes they do do this. I presume the reason for not putting the baby down is part custom and part no place to leave it safely. Cooking over an open fire is not safe with babies and toddlers in the way.

    To illustrate an example of how we in the west completely misunderstand what it is like not having electricity – soccer training during the World Cup last year was disrupted by players not being able to train during cooking time in the early evening. It has to be early evening to cook before the light goes (sunset), and cooking is on commonly on wood or coal open fires. Note this is around Johannesburg, not in the veld.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/sport/news/article.cfm?c_id=4&objectid=10650396

  26. Latitude says:
    April 2, 2011 at 8:43 am

    but Paul….

    …what you’re describing is capitalism
    ====================================

    Amen brother.

  27. I agree with everything I have ever read by Mr. Driessen. Electricity is the key to modern prosperity. Sometime last Fall we had a power outage that hit about 7PM and lasted until about 2AM. I took note of how our lives literally shut down. I was cooking on my backyard smoker and suddenly had to use a flashlight to stoke the fire, add wood and check the meat. Then I was stuck without energy to prepare the rest of the meal. TV and internet access was gone. I tried to read by battery powered lantern but the light was inadequate. As I sat in the dark I thought about what it must be like for 1/3 of the planet’s population to live without electricity.

    Imagine living a life without illumination and refrigeration. Forget air conditioning, TV and computers. Just think in terms of basic food refrigeration and lighting after dark. Africa has an abundance of natural resources, yet elitists and environmentalists in the West are loathe to let them utilize them. This is cruel and immoral. Electricity enables so many things we in the West take for granted. Many marvel at the increase in life expectancy we have enjoyed over the last century. Some of this is due to modern medicine, to be sure. But MOST of it is due to the development of a sanitation infrastructure (e.g. sewer and septic systems) and the ready availability of potable water for drinking and hygiene. Electricity makes potable water a reality. We’re not doing Africa any favors by dumping billions of dollars in foreign aid to prop up corrupt dictators or maybe stave off starvation for a little while longer. They need to develop their own prosperity and for that they need cheap and abundant electricity…not wind mills and solar panels.

  28. Lady Life Grows says:
    April 2, 2011 at 1:07 pm
    “Dr. Sternglass’ work indicating that brain damage does not have to result in an obviously retarded individual. His work showed that America lost IQ points on its smartest citizens as a result of low-level fallout from bomb testing. ”

    Did the wind carry the fallout from the nuclear bomb tests to Berkeley? ;-)

  29. One could be forgiven in thinking, at times, that there is something truly sinister and purposeful in the elite constantly coming up with ways to reduce sub-sahara Africa’s population.

  30. “amicus curiae says:
    while I endorse giving them power, the claims re fires being toxic to cook on is crap!”

    Did you realize many of the fires used for cooking in Africa are fueled by dung? Which makes you comment truly ironic.

  31. The person who got me interested in the “global warming” issue was Dr. John Christy of the University of Alabama/Huntsville. I heard Dr. Chritsy make a presentation on this issue a number of years ago. In it, he related a story about his activites on a church mission in Africa. He related a story about taking the students he was teaching on a trip in and old school bus over the terrible roads there. He said that whenever they were going to or from the village, the African ladies would stand in the middle of the road to catch a ride on their long journeys to find firewood for cooking. Their journeys got longer every day. John concluded the story by saying: “Life without energy is short and brutal.”

  32. jim hogg says:
    April 2, 2011 at 12:30 pm
    “Rand mistakenly believed that we are born tabula rasa, and therefore that men could be made better by the best example . . . perhaps a justified error in her time, but it renders a great deal of her thinking – not all of it – obsolete . . . But we can dream . . Capitalism as she saw it would be a very fine system indeed . . . but it’s an ideal that’ll never be realised because of human nature. ”
    ——————————————————————————-
    The crony capitalism she railed against then is exactly what we have now. GE, General Motors, Goldman Sachs and others feed at the bailout trough and cozy up to the regulators who can make or break them. The EPA threatens to take “command and control” of the economy through its green house gas “endangerment” finding because Congress had the audacity to rebuff Obama’s cap and trade scheme. There is nothing wrong with capitalism and it would work quite satisfactorily if it hadn’t been subjected to a shotgun wedding with government in the aftermath of World War II.

  33. “The freedom that capitalism depends on tends to attract and enrich the greedy, dishonest, and outright exploitative, usually at the expense of the hard working, trusting and honest. ”

    The power that governments wield for the ostensible purpose of restraining greedy, dishonest, and outright exploitative businessmen tends to attract and enrich greedy, dishonest, and outright exploitative government functionaries and their greedy, dishonest, and outright exploitative partners in business, labor, and academia.

    Once you’ve created a government agency to regulate evil businessmen, those same evil businessmen will have a great incentive to gain control of that agency and use it to prevent the very competition that is a free market’s best defense against “exploitative” behavior. If it’s true that a majority of the people support establishing such an agency, it need not have the power of government; the Seal of Approval of your Omnibus Watchdog League would be voluntarily sought by businessmen who want a good reputation. Further, competing certification agencies could offer different criteria upon which to award their honors, allowing consumers to choose which are important to them.

  34. “To suggest that impoverished nations must worry more about CO2 than about tuberculosis, cholera or malaria is absurd. To tell them their energy options must be limited to expensive, unreliable, insufficient wind and solar power is immoral. To impose anti-hydrocarbon restrictions on poor countries ensures that they will remain poor and diseased, with life expectancies in the low forties.”

    This is the danger we face with the manic CAGW scientists/activists – their influence on “policy makers” will ultimately lead to millions of poor people starving and dying…

  35. How many times have I seen this quote or ones similiarto it.
    “They also need to stop propagating scare stories and imposing restrictions on the use of hybrid and genetically modified seeds to reduce malnutrition, and insecticides to reduce disease.

    Europe bans Gmo crops to protect it farmers from competition not because they are dangerous.
    Golden rice to increase vitamin A in diets is a wonder crop to me.
    Just more silly barriers to a better future for the world is all I can say.

  36. We have to hope that Thorium can come to the rescue of Electric Power in the near future. With Fukushima rapidly heading in the direction of Chernoble, we desperately need a viable alternative. For once, let us root for the Chinese to be successful.
    otherwise, nuclear power is dead as a dorrnail.

  37. sdollarfan says:
    April 2, 2011 at 9:09 am
    President Obama should go on national TV and/or before Congress and tell them
    exactly what Mr. Driessen is saying in this piece. Unfortunately, Obama is a green Lefty himself, so this isn’t going to happen. That makes Obama part of the problem — and a significant part of the tragedy.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Quite true, but not excatly. While what you said about the president is true, the mainstrean media is more to blame. This has been hijacked by the left, the ex-communists in europe and their cronies in the US who keep spreading the lie. Furthemore even educators of today are left wingers, extreme greenies who are indoctrinating our children against the old established moral values and scientific truth, replacing these with a new (im)morality and junk science.
    I have always believed that good always triumphs over evil ultimately, as it has always done (nazism, communism etc) and it will be the case in this global swindle called CAGW, a lie of epic proportions and as malignant as Carl Marx’ own lie.
    Good is that little bit more powerful than evil. It’s a universal law, albeit unwritten.

  38. this is the first time I hear of large fossil fuel reserves in africa. but I know one thing for sure: it will not be the locals who will get this gas out of the ground. this is verysad but unfortunately true.

  39. Then there were the civilians. The Soviet Union collapsed a few years later, supposedly from Ronnie Reagan’s excellent leadership of the USA. But some think the collapse was due to health effects from Chernobyl. Life expectancy dropped by 5 years, supposedly due to discouragement from the economic collapse. Was it really due to Chernobyl?

    So much bollox, so little time to refute it. I will just stick to the obvious point.

    The drop in life expectancy in the old USSR was evenly spread. If Chernobyl was the cause then there should have been no drop in Volgagrad say, which is a long way upwind. However life expectancy in Poland, which is directly downwind, should have been enormously effected, but wasn’t. You’re just making stuff up.

  40. Mack Headley at CW can cut a dovetail by hand about 4 times faster and tighter than I can with a router.

  41. If we want check out a hint of what it is like to go without life extending electricity we should have an Earth WEEK. We’d end up getting a sense of what life without elec and I’m sure the the outrage would be such that we could kiss today’s rendition of the environmental movement goodbye.

  42. To paraphrase Voltaire: “Let us reserve judgment on Capitalism until we have seen it practiced.”

  43. Mr. Driessen,

    Thank you for the informative and uplifting post. CFACT’s goals are admirable, and their phased approach quite practical.

    “All these are akin to the help that first responders provide, before getting disaster victims to hospitals. They are important steps toward individual and community empowerment that comes from having property rights, free enterprise, and full access to modern technologies that improve, enhance and safeguard lives. But none of this is possible without reliable, affordable energy to power those technologies.”

    A key issue that has to be the timing of property rights, or working around known shortcomings. Many parts of Africa are a study in the “tragedy of the commons”. The argument that electricity has to come first may or may not be correct–let’s assume it is. But setting up modern, efficient electrical generation plants assumes a high level of infrastructure, as well as someone with the money and will to maintain it. The people in Village A and Village B may not come to a common agreement about who maintains which lines, especially if there are family or tribal issues between them.

    CFACT may want to look into options to phase in the utilities even more gradually. The Navy has a possible solution; MUSE units (Mobile Utilities Support Equipment). They are diesel-run generators with sub-stations that could easily keep villages or parts of a city running on electricity. Moderately educated individuals with mechanical skills could be trained to run MUSE through existing classes. It is easier to transport diesel in trucks than it is to pipe natural gas or bring coal in by train.

    There are real advantages to this approach. The distribution lines are by definition local; easier to maintain, and the operator can’t very well place blame for outages on vague entities far away in the capital. Small-scale power generation is what parts of Iraq fell back on during the low-scale civil war a few years ago. It’s not clean or environmentally low-impact, but people had at least some access to power and that is important!!

    Speaking of which, there have been some negative comments about BRIC countries. Whatever their motives may be, it is undeniable that they have recent experience turning from undeveloped to developed. Anyone involves in rural electrification in the US, for example, would have retired at least 40 years ago. Don’t discount the contributions of experience; work to harness the enlightened self-interest of these people who have recently done the same.

  44. Just once I’d like to see the tree huggers give up their technology, kinda/sorta walk the walk that hey want everybody else to walk. Who was that maniac singer woman that wanted everybody to use only one square of toilet paper per trip to the john. I bet you a dollar to a doughnut that she uses what she pleases. These people are nothing more than elitist snobs. “Do as I say not as I do.”

  45. But….what if you really want to perpetuate poverty and thus to get rid of a lot of those pesky third world inhabitants? which, btw, use to multiply their numbers exponentially while the decent and cool people of the first world have a reasonable and intelligent low birth rate.

  46. Yes! Of course! It is and always has been the eco-activists who have caused poverty through restrictions on the burning of hydrocarbons. There was no poverty in the world until this global warming hysteria prevented the poor people from burning oil for electricity. Why these sinister eco-activists are at the root of all the worlds problems. If only more carbon would be released into the air, all would be better. And how about the idea that there may be other power sources besides hydrocarbons? Absurd. Everyone knows that technology does not advance and the way to prosperity today is the same way it was done 100 years ago.

  47. Unfortunatelly, having access to electricity does not reduce fire wood burning for cooking / heating. It does reduce the dumping of old/used lead batteries used for watching the TV (recharged at the nearest town).,

    Providing electricity is a matter of energy for lighting but also power for production. Without the second, development is slower but demonstration effect bigger, accelerating the migration to the cities.

    Access to TV reduces reproduction rate.

  48. Lady Life Grows: you of course have no evidence whatsoever to support the fallacious claims you made regarding fatalities from nuclear accidents. It must disappoint you greatly that every scientific review, particularly those with no connection to the industry, have found none of the effects you claim.

    So, are you making these numbers up, or are you truly ignorant?

  49. sceptical says:
    April 2, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    “Why these sinister eco-activists are at the root of all the worlds problems.”

    By George, he’s got it!!

    “If only more carbon would be released into the air, all would be better.”

    If that carbon release is helping a poor family eat and stay warm, then yes all IS better (for them)…

    BTW – I’m sure the climate elites and eco-activist nuts will be happy to do with less – AFTER those vacations conferences in Bali, Copenhagen, Cancun…[LOL]

  50. Frank K. “If that carbon release is helping a poor family eat and stay warm, then yes all IS better (for them)…”
    Why is it better than a less expensive energy source which does not release carbon and does the same? Why is the release of carbon the important part?

  51. Google “yellow journalism”. All the explanation needed. CO2 that is human caused is less than 2 molecules amid 99,998 other molecules, the vast majority being nitrogen and to a far lesser extent, oxygen, with less than 38 molecules of CO2. That less than 2 molecules of CO2 can have “forcing temperature effects” on 99,998 other molecules is quite absurd.

  52. A nation, and our world, goes through “eras” — we were hunter-gatherers, and then agriculturalists. From there, we enter the industrial age of our society, and once we’ve outgrown that, we enter the service age.

    Capitalism works — to a point. It’s excellent at jump-starting an industrial age, but it is not sustainable. People who quote America as being a powerful capitalist entity seem to disregard the fact that we’re only a few hundred years old, and our industrial age wasn’t that too long ago. We’ve reached the point where it’s time to shift towards environmentally sound development — not only for ourselves, but for everyone — in order to continue living in a viable world. It’s just that simple.

    Unfortunately, not every nation develops at the same rate. Places in Africa like you’ve described are still in that “angricultural” era — and while capitalism can help get them started very quickly, it has an enormous, damaging footprint. It’s a difficult problem, one that both businessmen and eco-activitists need to work together on to help develop these regions while still protecting the environment.

  53. Belarus got the majority of the fallout from Chernobyl. Poland and Germany, Bavaria the worst, were also affected and as this study shows, the effects were monitored on infant mortality.

    http://www.alfred-koerblein.de/chernobyl/downloads/infantmortality.pdf


    “The health effects reported here all show a temporal correlation with the radiation exposure from Chernobyl. According to conventional radiobiological knowledge, no teratogenic effects are expected to occur below a threshold does of about 100 mSv. Even in the most contaminated regions of Germany, however, the extra doses to the foetus were below 1 mSv in the first follow-up year. Therefore the results contradict the widely accepted concept of a threshold dose for radiation damage during foetal development.
    ..
    “7 Discussion

    A trend analysis finds significant increases of perinatal motality in Germany and Poland in 1987, the year following the Chernobyl accident. The monthly data exhibit a significant association between perinatal mortality and the delayed caesium concentration in pregnant women. In Poland, which experience a higher average fallout from Chernobyl than Germany, the increase of perinatal mortality in 1987, as well as the casesium effect on monthly infant mortality data, is greater than in Germany. No increase in 1987 is found in pernatal mortality data from England and Wales.
    ..
    “In Bavaria, a significant drop in birth rate is observed in February 1987, nine months after the Chernobyl accident, which might well be the consequence of more spontaneous abortions. Similar decreases in birth rate were observed in several other European countries [4, 5, 6].”

    If the “widely accepted concept of a threshold dose for radiation damage during foetal development” comes from the nuclear industries’ p.r. arms, such as the IAEA, then they are proved to be corrupt in their assembling of data. http://www.ratical.org/radiation/CNR/HoloVsNoProb.html

    See also: http://www.strahlentelex.de/Yablokov%20Chernobyl%20book.pdf

    Governments employ pr people to set the scene for proposed actions which are then fed to a compliant MSM journos with bosses with vested interests, examples such as Iraq the most obvious, the Beeb in AGW well known here. The P.R. machinery of governments/nuclear arms industry is well developed through the U.N., the “widely-accepted” is the outcome of systematic deceit over decades. Not only downplaying the results of the detrimental health effects on the general population of producing nuclear weapons from these reactors, but in hiding among the deceit the results of their use. See the effects on infants health in Iraq from the use of depleted uranium of this industry’s prime motivation of power and control. Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo – if you think these were justified attacks by the West’s coalition forces, then you’ve bought into the P.R. which first demonises the victims to get your emotional backing for the mass murder.

    Contrast the study on infant mortality done with integrity, with a typical example of manipulation from the nuclear vested interests – http://www.wonuc.org/xfiles/chern_02.html

    We all need to use our own bog standard rational intelligence to untangle the truth from the lies here.

    http://www.thewe.cc/weplanet/news/depleted_uranium_iraq_afghanistan_balkans.html

    Nuclear energy produced now is heavily subsidised for this reason, it is neither clean nor cheap.

    If thorium reactors do not have the downsides of current reactors and are really as cheap to produce and run as has been claimed, then the most obvious reason we are not all benefitting from this kind of nuclear power in our backyards is because the needs of the general population are not only not a priority, but as with electricity in Africa, a deliberate manipulation is in place to deprive all of us oiks access to the benefits of progress, the UK a prototype here in the West. And the P.R., the continual unneccessary rising cost of energy imposed on the population accompanied by the meme, ‘we all have to make sacrifices, share the hard times’, which of course doesn’t affect those organising the destruction of our freedom to live and live well. Difficult now to tell who originally began manipulating the other in promoting its ideology, the green environmentalists manipulating government and business or government and business manipulating the greens, certainly Maggie Thatcher used the Greens to achieve her aim of destroying the cheap coal industry and union power of the people in Britain.

  54. @amicus curiae says: April 2, 2011 at 8:40 am
    “claims re fires being toxic to cook on is crap!”

    @dlr says:April 2, 2011 at 12:00 pm
    “Oh come on. They can’t put the baby down even when they cook dinner? Give me a break. … This is a rhetoric, a blatant attempt to sway the emotions, not an attempt to persuade or inform.”

    When I first saw these comments I just put them down to crass ignorance and decided to ignore them. But this is really too important not to challenge.

    It seems clear that ‘amicus curiae’ and ‘dlr’ have absolutely no idea what they are talking about.

    I came back from a trip to India last week. Everywhere I went, in the countryside and even in the shanty towns, dung from cows and buffalos is collected together, part dried, rolled into a ‘sausage’ and sliced into ‘patties’ perhaps 6″ – 7″ diameter and half an inch thick. These are dried in the sun. They are then neatly stacked up to form a pile perhaps a yard and a half high. The whole is then coated with a nice ‘skin’ of fresh dung and allowed to dry (the walls sometimes artistically decorated) to provide protection from the monsoon rains. The piles are to be found just outside the huts or hovels that people live in. When required, the ‘patties’ are taken out and burned in a simple hearth inside the hut, to cook food or provide warmth on cold nights.

    You can imagine the health implications of the entire process. You can imagine the flies, the vermin and the parasites. You can imagine the improvement in agricultural yields if the dung was used for fertiliser. You can imagine the improvement in the lives of the little kids you meet, desperate to improve their English, but who are unable to read in the dark.

    No this isn’t a ‘rhetoric’, it is part of life (together with having to walk and carry water) for millions of people. Yes, they could be shown how to erect flues. Yes, they could have a nice sterile baby and cot to put baby down. Perhaps you geniuses should go to India and explain it all to them. But you should be deeply ashamed of these stupid jibes.

    Myself, I would rather use my energies trying to assist in projects to give them affordable, reliable energy. (That certainly doesn’t mean windmills. Fortunately they have plenty of coal and gas).

    It is also worth pointing out that it says little for the Indian Government (and for the rest of the so-called World Community), that after 64 years of Independence, with a fabulously rich ‘upper class’ and a burgeoning and affluent ‘middle class’, in a country which can afford a Billion Dollar space programme, that the World’s largest democracy still has these levels of deprivation. It is clear that all that wealth will eventually ‘trickle down’ as the economy grows.

    But that’s if all the greenie Western governments and Charities, the World Bank and all the rest don’t manage to divert progress into fashionable eco-nonsense.

    As Dr. Roy Spencer points out, the ‘War on Global Warming’ is, in fact, a war on the World’s poor.

  55. dlr says:
    April 2, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    “Mothers with babies strapped on their backs must bend over open fires…”

    Oh come on. They can’t put the baby down even when they cook dinner? Give me a break.
    ==================================
    dlr, I live in South Africa, and can assure you that is precisely how it is!

    Geoff Alder

  56. Radiation provides an “insult” to the cellular repair systems. The result is heightened activity, and a sharp drop in cancer and allied ills. See the “hormesis” studies. Blasphemy and anathema to the medical orthodoxy and the Green-With-Fear crowd, tho’.

    Fingers crossed, LPPhysics.com may begin licensing a design for mfr. of a small (tiny) non-thermal fusion reactor, about 5MW, costing <<$500,000 and output at <½¢/kwh within 5 yrs. Powerlessness will rapidly end.

    Meantime, the Frac Gas resource pool just got a major shot in the arm. Algeria announced discoveries of about 25,000 TCF, enough for Europe for a millennium. It's everywhere!

  57. oeman50 says:
    April 2, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    “amicus curiae says:
    while I endorse giving them power, the claims re fires being toxic to cook on is crap!”

    Did you realize many of the fires used for cooking in Africa are fueled by dung? Which makes you comment truly ironic.
    ———–
    dried dung burns fairly clean, similar to peat I think?
    again a couple( well say 10 tin cans) can make a rough but serviceable chimney.
    and anyone thats copped a face full of smoke while out camping learns to keep out of the direct smoke.
    apart from initial combustion, little smoke should emanate anyway

  58. Africa is just celebrating “Earth Hour” 24/7/365 for their whole 40 year lifespan. Al Gore must be so proud. If they just bought some carbon offsets, the world would be perfect.

  59. Well said. That people who live in poorer countries are denied the opportunities that provided the lives of the well of industrial nations is shameful. The leading nations could do much more for all mankind, but that does not fit in with the agenda of the influential classes who appear to think they represent the most moral of dimensions.

  60. Driesser’s main point seems to be to cast me with those seeking a high carbon price (or any carbon cost for poor countries) as a route to limiting climate risk, which couldn’t be farther from reality: http://j.mp/DOTcfact . The closing line about joining their version of a global energy quest is amusing, considering that’s precisely what I proposed CFACT do. Here’s my take on an “energy quest” that works for the long haul: http://j.mp/eQuest . Finally, the selective quoting of the late chemistry Nobelist completely discounts his concerns about the risks from unabated CO2 emissions (video here): http://nyti.ms/g41bHc

  61. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

    We can all see the elephant in the room but none dare speak of it.

  62. Brian H says:
    April 3, 2011 at 4:53 am

    “Radiation provides an “insult” to the cellular repair systems. The result is heightened activity”

    Yeah right. UV exposure makes your skin healthier.

    Do you really believe that?

  63. Sarah Bonner says:
    April 3, 2011 at 2:27 am

    “A nation, and our world, goes through “eras” — we were hunter-gatherers, and then agriculturalists. From there, we enter the industrial age of our society, and once we’ve outgrown that, we enter the service servant age.”

    Fixed that for ya!

    The downside of capitalism is the concentration of wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer people.

  64. Better Living Through Electricity
    – Guest post by Paul Driessen

    ‘In his DotEarth blog for the New York Times, columnist Andrew Revkin lamented this intolerable situation. “Access to the benefits that come with ample energy trumps concerns about their tiny contribution of greenhouse gas emissions,” he wrote.’

    Let’s cut to the chase here, Revkin, The New York Slimes and the entire liberal cocktail party circuit do not care a wit for the poor people of Africa. Their demise whether it stems from various red genocides or religious warfare or disease and poverty plays into the Mathusian group-think so prevalent among the ‘educated’ and ‘intellectual’ class.

    The poor people of Africa do not have champions and benefactors among the liberal greenies and fellow traveler progressives and socialists. They are simply neo-Comms, next-gen derivatives of the marxist communists that have caused such mayhem on the dark continent through the past 50 years. The cornerstone of their thinking is in societal planning, something that is artificial and un-natural, and inevitably leads to sacrifices made to further the greater good.

    In truth, if it were left up to the ‘progressive’ socialists and its favored (D) political container, there wouldn’t be a single electrical outlet or automobile to be found on the continents of Africa and Asia except for the palaces and ‘government’ buildings of their handpicked puppets and warlords.

  65. Andrew Revkin and his fellow travellers can best be described as eco-imperialists. From their perch of ultra-modern comfort and luxury provided, of course, by modern electrical generation, they declare that those struggling in poverty on the other side of the planet should be kept away from modern tools and technology. They want to keep the poor as some kind of living museum exhibit, and pretend that the world is a better place because of that.

  66. Amicus curiae,

    “dried dung burns fairly clean, similar to peat I think?”

    Any organic matter, when it is burnt, emits particulates which are harmful to health. The WHO has suggested limits of about 5 microgrammes per cubic metre of PM2.5. In the UK the AQO for PM2.5 is set at 25 microgrammes per cubic metre. Even that cannot be achieved without substantial filters. PM2.5 is extremely damaging when inhaled over long periods of time because it can pass through the lungs and into the bloodstream.
    In ‘Dreams of My Father,’ Obama recalls the impact on his eyes and lungs when entering a hut in Kenya that where they were cooking a meal on a dung fire. Needless to say, he didn’t overstay his welcome.

  67. Dave Springer says:
    April 3, 2011 at 7:42 am

    “The downside of capitalism is the concentration of wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer people.”

    BS!!
    The freer the economy, the more the money moves. See this post from Mark pPerry’s blog on a study of income mobility by the Mlps. Fed

    http://mjperry.blogspot.com/2011/03/significant-earnings-mobilty-between.html

    particularly this table

    1. For American households that were in the lowest earnings quintile (bottom 20 percent) in 2001, only 56% of those households remained in that quintile in 2007, and 44 percent had moved to a higher quintile by 2007. Five percent of low-income households in 2001 had moved to one of the top two quintiles in just six years.

    2. For those households that were in the highest earnings quintile (top 20 percent) in 2001, 34 percent had moved to a lower quintile by 2007, and 5 percent of those households had moved all the way to the bottom quintile.

    3. For those households in the middle earnings quintile (middle 20 percent) in 2001, about one-third moved to a higher quintile by 2007, more than one-fourth moved to a lower quintile, and only 42 percent remained in the same quintile.

    4. More than half of the households in the second, third, and fourth quintiles in 2001 moved to a different earnings quintiles by 2007 (see bottom row in chart).

    There have been numerous iterations of this type of study going back almost half a century and they all show essentially the same thing, the main difference being that those with a longer period show even greater mobility.

    If you review Forbes’s annual lists of the wealthiest people in the country, there is always significant turnover and usually only a minority are on the list on the basis of inherited wealth. Well within the span of my own lifetime most of the folks on the latest lists had less than exceptional wealth.

    The only real way for wealth to be permanently concentrated is through the connivence and abetance of the political class and that has nothing to do with market economics.

  68. Dave Wendt is exactly right. In the free market there is a constant “churn.” The result is steadily increasing national prosperity instead of an ossified class/caste system. The evidence is everywhere we look. A good starting point is free market South Korea versus Big Government North Korea. From there we can compare the “capitalist” [a Karl Marx term] free market U.S. to the suffocating, over-taxed, anti-democratic EU, where a vote never counts until the citizens get it right.

  69. @ Dave Springer says:
    April 3, 2011 at 7:21 am
    Brian H says:
    April 3, 2011 at 4:53 am

    “Radiation provides an “insult” to the cellular repair systems. The result is heightened activity”

    Yeah right. UV exposure makes your skin healthier.

    Just for the record, the body can not make vitamin D without UV exposure . . .

    Ergosterol – Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaErgosterol a sterol, is a biological precursor (a provitamin) to vitamin D2. It is turned into viosterol by ultraviolet light, and is then converted into …
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ergosterol – Cached – Similar

    It’s one of the most surprising & amazing things I learned as a student. . . . never forgot it.

  70. Dave;
    Your lumping of all EM into “radiation” is not worthy of you. UV is crucial for making UV; skin color around the world has evolved to let the right amount in for usual sun exposure. Not enough, and you get Vitamin D deficiency problems (which are turning out to be numerous); too much and you kill skin cells with DNA damage and increase cancer risk.

    But alpha, beta, and gamma radiation are different beasts. Alpha is helium ions, and barely penetrates a sheet of paper. Beta is electrons, and has little penetration but can “burn”. Gamma is photons with energies higher than X-Rays, and penetrates deeply.

    The hormesis studies found exactly what I states wrt gamma exposure. The Taipei study showed a 97% drop in expected cancers for the residents in the Cobalt-60 contaminated steel girders in their apartment block, over 10 yrs later (7 cases vs. expected 295, IIRC). And others. Not a “consensus” position, yet!

  71. Ugh. typing too fast: s/b
    “97% drop in expected cancer deaths for the residents from the Cobalt-60 contaminated steel girders in their apartment block … (7 vs. the average population’s expected figure of 295). . .

  72. I cannot even be bothered to look back to see which brain dead moron said ‘can’t she put the baby down when cooking’, all I can say to this woman is, ‘of course she can my dear, she could put the baby in the ‘clean crisp newly washed cradle’, or the ‘just vacumed carpet’, ‘in the air conditioned porch out of the scorching sun’!!! GO AND WORK AND LIVE IN AFRICA FOR A COUPLE OF YEARS, YOU WOULD NOT LAST 2 HOURS.

  73. Mentioning flare gas got me thinking. Jay Leno has a turbine powered bike. This is interesting because the reason he can get it is because the bike uses a helicopter turbine that has enough hours that it needs refurbishing to be certified to fly again, but that overhaul costs too much to be reasonable–so they just buy a new turbine which is ironically cheaper.

    Point being, you could probably modify one of these turbines to run on propane or natural gas without too much trouble, and each could produce a megawatt or so at least probably. Even poor African nations have helicopters for various reasons, so non flyable turbines that still technically work should be available.

    These could even run off wood gas generators, if you want to mess with converters that big. That defeats one of the big advantages to going to gas power–no more deforestation.

  74. Don’t give me the problems of people in Africa of living without electricity. I did not know what life with electricity was like until I was 14,(yes fourteen)years old.
    Before you ask what country I came from, It was the good old U. S. A. In fact It was Centre County Pennsylvania. In fact my grandfather died at 92 and my father at 96 and they had lived most of their lives without electricity.

  75. Edward, as do many people in the UK to this day, difference is we have oil and gas to provide our energy, as I am sure your grandparents did, and by the way, my grandparents smoked 50 full strength cigarettes each day, a bottle of home brewed whisky and still lived to be 100, and us kids had many a ‘good hiding’ and it never did us any harm!!!! Give us a break.

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