UN's New Energy Plan: We Bureaucrats Know How Much the Third World Needs

The headline in today's ClimateWire (subscription required) blares "U.N. says turning lights on for world's poor need not boost CO2." That is, we can provide electricity to 1.5 billion people who have never flipped a light switch and not see an increase in emissions of carbon dioxide (until the global warming fad/excuse for doing things statists like to do, this was called plant food, the driver of photosynthesis).

CO2 is released not just by oceans when they warm (absorbed when they cool) or decaying plants, or people exhaling, but combusting "fossil fuels" like the coal, gas, and, in some places, oil used to create electricity. CO2 emissions generally correlate with economic prosperity--more on that, momentarily.

But there is even less to this absurdity than meets the eye. Here’s how the ClimateWire story opens:
UNITED NATIONS -- Generating enough electricity to supply the 1.5 billion people on this planet who live without it does not necessarily have to add much carbon dioxide to the global mix, U.N. experts argued in their annual Human Development Index.

The report, released yesterday, takes on the nettlesome subject of how the world can help bring these billions, most of them impoverished and living in Africa, into the light. It argues that "providing basic energy services" could happen with a CO2 increase of only 0.8 percent.

The fear that adding this level of energy supply to world accounts would mean much higher carbon output is unfounded, said William Orme, of the U.N. Development Programme, during a press briefing here on the report.

"That's false," he said. "You can actually do all that without creating a 1 percent rise in carbon emissions."

Think about that. According to a UN report -- coincidentally timed in the run-up to talks next month on replacing the energy-rationing Kyoto Protocol -- you can create electricity for just under a quarter of the world's population without, per the UN, even a 1% increase in man's marginal contribution to CO2! That's called UN Math.

The first thing that jumps out to those of us trying to find a way to make this statement be true is this interpretation: “Basic energy services” is in the eye of the beholder, a beholder who has his, viewing the dramatically lesser basic needs of others. He who seeks what others have surely has a different perspective. So far, the Kyoto disaster has affirmed this.

And then there’s this interpretation, which actually is necessary in any reading of this claim. Once the lights go on, at some level, then no growth for you! You've got what we think you need, now shut up.

As stated, CO2 equates with economic activity, with the statistical hiccup of certain wealthy countries depending heavily on nuclear power for much of their prosperity, like France and, until very recently, Japan and Germany.

So here again we see the newly fashionable effort to redefine prosperity, writing out economic GDP in favor of a mishmash of statist ideals leaving despotic hellholes as supposedly happy little nirvanas compared to those of us who thought reducing drudgery, disease and premature death from brutish, nasty living was somehow a good thing.

As AEI’s Steve Hayward notes, one “typical example of popular wisdom is the Happy Planet Index, which ranks the ostensible 'happiness' of the United States at 150th out of 178 countries, chiefly on account of America's carbon footprint.” Mmm.

Ignore for the moment the internal confusion of this ClimateWire paragraph (surely a typo, which seems to be the principal way they get things right), and catch the argument. "Still, the U.N. report says high living standards ‘need to be carbon-fueled and follow the examples of the richest countries.’ A high degree of fossil fuel consumption was not seen as improving a nation's life expectancy or education level, for example."

So guess what the UN has in store for them, while also working to rope us into agreeing to Kyoto-style rationing? The UN report suggests "off-grid renewable options." Ah, yes, the old reliable -- er, wait, unreliable, "intermittent" -- wind and solar power. Remember, we didn't say often or how long the lights would be on, did we?

Just behold those happy poor...er, representatives of noble cultures. So wise, educated in ways we wealthy people will never comprehend (such are the wages of carbon sin). They've got a light bulb now, and they can turn them on during the day when the sun shines to power it!

So, yes, UN, you can “provide electricity” to 1.5 billion people without even slightly increasing CO2 emissions.

That is, if you don't mind turning down, and sometimes out, the lights of many others.

And possibly squirrels running on wheels in their cages. Lots of them. And pedal-power. Hey, you need to get in shape anyway.

I mean, there are many ways this could be true. Yet, under any reading, why would we place this responsibility in the hands of, or even anywhere near, a group of people who believe in energy scarcity, not abundance?

We’ve already got such a crew in charge, here, and look at the swell direction things are headed.

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