Friday, June 19, 2015

BJORN LOMBORG & Diana Furchtgott-Roth On The Pope And Climate Change

For Furchtgott-Roth see Pope Francis’ plan to help the environment will backfire.

For Lomborg see Pope Francis so right and so wrong in encyclical on climate change .

Excerpts from Furchtgott-Roth:
"Pope Francis argues that “the deterioration of the environment and of society affects the most vulnerable people on the planet: [the poorest].” For the poorest, however, curtailing the use of fossil fuels may be a cure worse than the disease.

Electricity from fossil fuels is less expensive than electricity produced from alternative fuels. The U.S. Energy Information Administration has estimated that the average levelized cost for natural gas-fired plants entering service in 2020 is $75 per megawatt hour, compared with $125 per megawatt hour for solar-powered plants and $101 per megawatt hour for biomass."

"This disproportionately affects the poor, who spend a higher share of their income on energy. For the U.S., data from the Labor Department show that individuals in the lowest fifth of the income distribution spend an average of 24% of income on energy, compared with 10% of income for those in the middle fifth, and 4% of income for those in the top fifth.

In those parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America where people do not have access to clean water, adequate food or medical care, the difference is even more stark. Using renewables instead of fossil fuels will retard growth, resulting in a higher mortality rate and a lower life expectancy."

"The pope says that “[t]here is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced.” However, the majority of such policies currently on the table would reduce economic growth not only in the U.S. but also in emerging economies."

"The role of capitalism and free markets in raising people out of poverty was acknowledged by Pope John Paul II in his Encyclical “Centesimus Annus” in 1981. He wrote: “The obligation to earn one’s bread by the sweat of one’s brow also presumes the right to do so. A society in which this right is systematically denied, in which economic policies do not allow workers to reach satisfactory levels of employment, cannot be justified from an ethical point of view, nor can that society attain social peace.”

Pope Francis’ concern for the environment is admirable. But to keep the poverty-reducing engine of economic growth running, it is necessary to continue to use fossil fuels. Our air is getting cleaner, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future as new capital replaces old. Abandoning fossil fuels would hurt the most vulnerable in societies throughout the world."

From Lomborg: 
"The Pope derides those who have “blind faith” in technological advances as a solution to climate change. Instead, his encyclical declares that the world must stop consuming so much. That, he says, will help the poor people who stand to be affected most by global warming. That is troubling, because technical innovation is exactly what we need more of.

Humanity’s answer to huge levels of famine wasn’t to insist we should eat less. The Green Revolution, one of the great achievements of the past century, saw scientific and technological advances dramatically increase the productivity of food — not the least through fertilisers and pesticides. Unfortunately, this very technology, which saved hundreds of millions of lives, is stigmatised as harmful in the encyclical.

The Green Revolution is hardly the only example of human ingenuity resolving a major challenge. Consider the world’s most deadly environmental problem: indoor air pollution from cooking and keeping warm with smoke-inducing wood and dung. It is all but forgotten in the rich world. Likewise, air pollution from cars that caused dangerous smogs, in cities such as Los Angeles, was tackled not with fewer cars but with the catalytic converter.

Yet 4.3 million people die each year in poor countries because of indoor air pollution. The world’s most destitute, who do not have access to modern energy sources, rely on burning biomass and dirty fuel for cooking and heating. The Pope mentions the problem in the encyclical, but he does not embrace the obvious solution: the world’s poor need more access to modern cooking fuels, which will mostly be fossil fuel-based. Renewables like wind and solar energy have a small role to play but mostly remain too expensive and intermittent."

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