Global warming policies vs. Africa

The veteran civil rights activist Roy Innis is blasting the administration for the way its policies to combat the alleged global warming are devastating Africa:

The president signed an executive order requiring that the Overseas Private Investment Corp. (OPIC) and other federal agencies reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with their projects by 30 percent over the next 10 years. The order undermines the ability of sub-Saharan African nations to achieve progress in energy and economic and human rights.

Ghana is trying to build a 130-megawatt, gas-fired power plant to bring electricity’s blessings to more of its people, schools, hospitals and businesses. Today, almost half of Ghanaians never have access to electricity, or they get it only a few hours a week, leaving their futures bleak.

Most people in Ghana are forced to cook and heat with wood, crop wastes or dung, says Franklin Cudjoe, director of the Imani (Hope) Center for Policy and Education, in Accra. The indoor air pollution from these fires causes blindness, asthma and severe lung infections that kill a million women and young children every year. Countless more Africans die from intestinal diseases caused by eating unrefrigerated, spoiled food.

But when Ghana turned to its U.S. “partner” and asked OPIC to support the $185 million project, OPIC refused to finance even part of it – thus adding as much as 20 percent to its financing cost. Repeated across Africa, these extra costs for meeting “climate change prevention” policies will threaten numerous projects and prolong poverty and disease for millions.

Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 800 million people, 80 percent of whom live on less than $2.50 per day. More than 700 million people – twice the population of the United States and Canada combined – rarely or never have access to the lifesaving, prosperity-creating benefits of electricity, Mr. Cudjoe notes.

Even in South Africa, the most advanced nation in the region, 25 percent of the populace still has no electricity. Pervasively insufficient electrical power has meant frequent brownouts that have hampered factory output and forced gold and diamond mines to shut down because of risks that miners would suffocate in darkness deep underground. The country also suffers from maternal mortality rates 36 times higher than in the United States and tuberculosis rates 237 times higher.

And yet Mr. Obama told his Ghanaian audience last July that Africa is gravely “threatened” by global warming, which he argues “will spread disease, shrink water resources and deplete crops,” leading to more famine and conflict. Africa, he says, can “increase access to power while skipping – leapfrogging – the dirtier phase of development,” by using its “bountiful” wind, solar, geothermal and biofuels energy.

via INNIS: Obama keeps Africa in the dark – Washington Times.

Mr. Innis and his co-author (I believe his son) go on to explain why that just doesn’t work. Africa just needs electricity, like the rest of us. Meanwhile, those of us who have electricity, along with virtually everything else we need, have the luxury of ideological purity applied to others, though not ourselves.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Dan Kempin

    “Ideological purity applied to others.” What a great turn of phrase.

  • Dan Kempin

    “Ideological purity applied to others.” What a great turn of phrase.

  • Joe

    sickening.

  • Joe

    sickening.

  • DonS

    Wow. First I’ve heard of this. It deserves more investigation and exposure.

  • DonS

    Wow. First I’ve heard of this. It deserves more investigation and exposure.

  • Carl Vehse

    Is anyone surprised at Barry Soetoro’s condescending remarks to the African audience, given his condescending attitude toward the American people?

  • Carl Vehse

    Is anyone surprised at Barry Soetoro’s condescending remarks to the African audience, given his condescending attitude toward the American people?

  • http://www.amazon.com/Though-Were-Actually-True-Apologetics/dp/1606088203/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1269619845&sr=8-1 Matt C.

    This is the typical oversight of contemporary environmentalism–oblviousness to opportunity costs. When you spend time/effort pursuing one thing, you cannot spend the same resources on another. Improving the environment is a good thing, but it’s not the only good thing. There really needs to be a place for cost-benefit analysis in the environmentalist worldview.

    I often hear that the environment is much more important than mere money, forgetting that money is a medium of exchange rather than a hoard of gold. Money isn’t just a stand-in for yachts and flat-screen TVs. It also represents food, shelter, sanitation, etc. In places like Africa, cost/benefit becomes a much more pertinant question than in relatively wealthy societies. Is a tiny reduction in a carbon footprint really worth all the public health issues it would cause?

  • http://www.amazon.com/Though-Were-Actually-True-Apologetics/dp/1606088203/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1269619845&sr=8-1 Matt C.

    This is the typical oversight of contemporary environmentalism–oblviousness to opportunity costs. When you spend time/effort pursuing one thing, you cannot spend the same resources on another. Improving the environment is a good thing, but it’s not the only good thing. There really needs to be a place for cost-benefit analysis in the environmentalist worldview.

    I often hear that the environment is much more important than mere money, forgetting that money is a medium of exchange rather than a hoard of gold. Money isn’t just a stand-in for yachts and flat-screen TVs. It also represents food, shelter, sanitation, etc. In places like Africa, cost/benefit becomes a much more pertinant question than in relatively wealthy societies. Is a tiny reduction in a carbon footprint really worth all the public health issues it would cause?

  • http://mesamike.org Mike Westfall

    Applied environmental idolatry. The excuse is that people will suffer if we don’t Save the Environment. It’s just too bad (but who cares?) if people suffer due to our efforts to save the environment so that people won’t suffer.

  • http://mesamike.org Mike Westfall

    Applied environmental idolatry. The excuse is that people will suffer if we don’t Save the Environment. It’s just too bad (but who cares?) if people suffer due to our efforts to save the environment so that people won’t suffer.

  • http://RoseFremer@yahoo.com Rose

    Soon our health care will be on par with Obama’s native Kenya.

  • http://RoseFremer@yahoo.com Rose

    Soon our health care will be on par with Obama’s native Kenya.

  • M

    Is a tiny reduction in a carbon footprint really worth all the public health issues it would cause?

    Well, there’s the obvious pundit reply: “Is improving the lives of a few country’s citizens, no matter how much improvement or how dire their needs, worth destroying the global ecosystem and causing the death of humankind?”

    Obviously the question is how “tiny” a reduction you are talking about, and if the global-warming alarmists are right versus full of it.

    Then there’s the argument that the developed world should have to sacrifice to offset the needs of the developing world. Which the pundits will tell you is communist/socialist.

    It’s not black and white.

  • M

    Is a tiny reduction in a carbon footprint really worth all the public health issues it would cause?

    Well, there’s the obvious pundit reply: “Is improving the lives of a few country’s citizens, no matter how much improvement or how dire their needs, worth destroying the global ecosystem and causing the death of humankind?”

    Obviously the question is how “tiny” a reduction you are talking about, and if the global-warming alarmists are right versus full of it.

    Then there’s the argument that the developed world should have to sacrifice to offset the needs of the developing world. Which the pundits will tell you is communist/socialist.

    It’s not black and white.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    What’s that saying about “by the time Truth gets its boots on”? Yeah. I know I’m too late to this party, given that it’s Friday afternoon here on the West Coast. Oh well. Anyhow, Don (@3), here’s your “more investigation and exposure.”

    This article appears to be less than truthful.

    I searched on Google News for any mention of articles that discussed [Ghana OPIC]. And here’s the weird thing. With the exception of this Washington Times article, most of the news all stemmed from Forbes[1][2][3]. I found that odd. There are basically two sources on this story, and they both have conservative biases. That doesn’t smell right.

    Then I did a search on OPIC.gov for news of this story. Nothing I could find, though I wouldn’t necessarily expect them to say anything about it.

    So I started searching on Google News for [ghana 130-megawatt, gas-fired power plant], just to find discussion of this plant. And I found all of two articles. The Washington Times article that Veith posted, and a story from Ghana Business News.

    And the latter had an interesting story[4]:

    In recent times some publications in the Wall Street Journal and particularly Forbes.com have [sought] to impugn the integrity of Ghana and to question the country’s sovereignty. One of the articles on Forbes actually went to the extent of accusing President Obama of being responsible for an American power company losing an energy contract to build 130-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant at Aboadze in the Western region. Meanwhile, a ghanabusinessnews.com investigation of this power project contract revealed that there was no contract at all that has been awarded to HPI. Indeed, ghanabusinessnews.com communicated with officials of HPI by telephone and by email and their responses were included in the report that was published on April 16, 2009. It is curious therefore, that the Forbes article will seek to link the failure to award a contract that never was to Obama’s doing.

    If you go to the Ghana Business News link below[4], you can follow the link they have to a story from last year[5] investigating this power-plant-contract that didn’t exist.

    Feel free to prove me wrong, but I call “bull” on this story. It appears to be nothing more than another right-wing potshot at Obama and against anti-global-warming measures. I expect conservatives like Mr. Innis (and son) to make arguments like that, but I also expect them to tell the truth in so doing.

    [1]mobile.ghanaweb.com/wap/article.php?ID=177408
    [2]theghanaianjournal.com/2010/02/25/a-presidential-doublespeak-on-investing-in-ghana/
    [3]forbes.com/global/2010/0315/companies-obama-ghana-hpi-energy-dont-read-my-lips.html
    [4]ghanabusinessnews.com/2010/03/01/is-the-us-after-ghana’s-oil-at-all-cost/
    [5]ghanabusinessnews.com/2009/04/16/us-company-to-build-another-power-plant-for-ghana/

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    What’s that saying about “by the time Truth gets its boots on”? Yeah. I know I’m too late to this party, given that it’s Friday afternoon here on the West Coast. Oh well. Anyhow, Don (@3), here’s your “more investigation and exposure.”

    This article appears to be less than truthful.

    I searched on Google News for any mention of articles that discussed [Ghana OPIC]. And here’s the weird thing. With the exception of this Washington Times article, most of the news all stemmed from Forbes[1][2][3]. I found that odd. There are basically two sources on this story, and they both have conservative biases. That doesn’t smell right.

    Then I did a search on OPIC.gov for news of this story. Nothing I could find, though I wouldn’t necessarily expect them to say anything about it.

    So I started searching on Google News for [ghana 130-megawatt, gas-fired power plant], just to find discussion of this plant. And I found all of two articles. The Washington Times article that Veith posted, and a story from Ghana Business News.

    And the latter had an interesting story[4]:

    In recent times some publications in the Wall Street Journal and particularly Forbes.com have [sought] to impugn the integrity of Ghana and to question the country’s sovereignty. One of the articles on Forbes actually went to the extent of accusing President Obama of being responsible for an American power company losing an energy contract to build 130-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant at Aboadze in the Western region. Meanwhile, a ghanabusinessnews.com investigation of this power project contract revealed that there was no contract at all that has been awarded to HPI. Indeed, ghanabusinessnews.com communicated with officials of HPI by telephone and by email and their responses were included in the report that was published on April 16, 2009. It is curious therefore, that the Forbes article will seek to link the failure to award a contract that never was to Obama’s doing.

    If you go to the Ghana Business News link below[4], you can follow the link they have to a story from last year[5] investigating this power-plant-contract that didn’t exist.

    Feel free to prove me wrong, but I call “bull” on this story. It appears to be nothing more than another right-wing potshot at Obama and against anti-global-warming measures. I expect conservatives like Mr. Innis (and son) to make arguments like that, but I also expect them to tell the truth in so doing.

    [1]mobile.ghanaweb.com/wap/article.php?ID=177408
    [2]theghanaianjournal.com/2010/02/25/a-presidential-doublespeak-on-investing-in-ghana/
    [3]forbes.com/global/2010/0315/companies-obama-ghana-hpi-energy-dont-read-my-lips.html
    [4]ghanabusinessnews.com/2010/03/01/is-the-us-after-ghana’s-oil-at-all-cost/
    [5]ghanabusinessnews.com/2009/04/16/us-company-to-build-another-power-plant-for-ghana/

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Also, there’s no evidence on the Web that I could find that the “Affordable Power Alliance” exists as anything other than Niger Innis spreading this story.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Also, there’s no evidence on the Web that I could find that the “Affordable Power Alliance” exists as anything other than Niger Innis spreading this story.

  • Booklover

    My husband, one of the most conservative people I know, was very skeptical of this story, and was mad that I believed it. So maybe there is something to tODD’s research. :-) I couldn’t believe hubby was upset about it, because he will sit and watch Fox News for hours. :-) (But he’s also the type who, back when he had money, would give 1000 bucks to people whose furnace went out, and he never waited for the government, or even the church, to do it; and he also is totally against “government health care” even though he has had four back surgeries, plus others, and has no money because of them.)

    I believed the Obama/global warming story, but it’s good to hear all research. I don’t usually like any “liberal” methods of dealing with world problems, like when those in poverty are handed birth control to soothe their economic condition…so I had a mindset against this method also.

  • Booklover

    My husband, one of the most conservative people I know, was very skeptical of this story, and was mad that I believed it. So maybe there is something to tODD’s research. :-) I couldn’t believe hubby was upset about it, because he will sit and watch Fox News for hours. :-) (But he’s also the type who, back when he had money, would give 1000 bucks to people whose furnace went out, and he never waited for the government, or even the church, to do it; and he also is totally against “government health care” even though he has had four back surgeries, plus others, and has no money because of them.)

    I believed the Obama/global warming story, but it’s good to hear all research. I don’t usually like any “liberal” methods of dealing with world problems, like when those in poverty are handed birth control to soothe their economic condition…so I had a mindset against this method also.

  • http://thelastenemy.wordpress.com/ skyorrichegg

    tODD’s investigation into the validity of the article appears accurate. However I think the point remains, albeit without an interesting or supporting article, that many environmentalists fail to view environmentalism as a cost-benefit problem. I don’t wish to create a straw-man here out of environmentalists, and as a lover of nature I would have to at least partially include myself in that category, but some that I have talked with fail to adequately take into account the poor in their ideas of saving the planet.
    As I see it they are a couple of questions that need to be answered about global warming
    1. Is it happening? I would say from the evidence I have been given and attempted to interpret that there is strong evidence for a global rise in temperatures over the last 50 years.
    2. Are humans the cause of it? This is a much more difficult question to answer especially with the ideas of causation and correlation thrown in there and I do not think it has been answered enough for extreme measures to be taken. However that does not stop us from taking measures entirely…
    3. Is it a bad thing? Is global warming a natural process of the earth? If we are causing it where and who is it going to affect? Are any of those affects positive? I would imagine that there would be large increase in arable land in parts of Russia and Canada… some of the largest continuous bands of land on earth, but would this counter other potential devestations that might result?
    4. How do we counteract it? This is one that needs to be thought over very carefully, but should not paralyze humanity into inaction. Because if we can cause such problems to the earth without even trying I would hate to find out how screwed up we could make it through deliberate and hasty action. Fiddling around with the earth’s ecosystem seems like a bad idea, but another ice age would make a humorous and ironic end to humanity.
    5. How can we help the developing world achieve decent standards of living while counterbalancing the potential threat of global warming? This is an important analysis as the deaths of many hang on the heads of those who are wrong: if global warming ends up being grossly overestimated, many developing countries will have been severely hurt in the effort to green the entire planet, but if global warming is a potential humanity ending threat than inaction threatens many other lives.
    Environmentalist do need to be careful in how they deal with developing nations and their attempts to improve their nations well being.

  • http://thelastenemy.wordpress.com/ skyorrichegg

    tODD’s investigation into the validity of the article appears accurate. However I think the point remains, albeit without an interesting or supporting article, that many environmentalists fail to view environmentalism as a cost-benefit problem. I don’t wish to create a straw-man here out of environmentalists, and as a lover of nature I would have to at least partially include myself in that category, but some that I have talked with fail to adequately take into account the poor in their ideas of saving the planet.
    As I see it they are a couple of questions that need to be answered about global warming
    1. Is it happening? I would say from the evidence I have been given and attempted to interpret that there is strong evidence for a global rise in temperatures over the last 50 years.
    2. Are humans the cause of it? This is a much more difficult question to answer especially with the ideas of causation and correlation thrown in there and I do not think it has been answered enough for extreme measures to be taken. However that does not stop us from taking measures entirely…
    3. Is it a bad thing? Is global warming a natural process of the earth? If we are causing it where and who is it going to affect? Are any of those affects positive? I would imagine that there would be large increase in arable land in parts of Russia and Canada… some of the largest continuous bands of land on earth, but would this counter other potential devestations that might result?
    4. How do we counteract it? This is one that needs to be thought over very carefully, but should not paralyze humanity into inaction. Because if we can cause such problems to the earth without even trying I would hate to find out how screwed up we could make it through deliberate and hasty action. Fiddling around with the earth’s ecosystem seems like a bad idea, but another ice age would make a humorous and ironic end to humanity.
    5. How can we help the developing world achieve decent standards of living while counterbalancing the potential threat of global warming? This is an important analysis as the deaths of many hang on the heads of those who are wrong: if global warming ends up being grossly overestimated, many developing countries will have been severely hurt in the effort to green the entire planet, but if global warming is a potential humanity ending threat than inaction threatens many other lives.
    Environmentalist do need to be careful in how they deal with developing nations and their attempts to improve their nations well being.

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