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War on Fossil Fuels Tragedy

April 10, 2015

The February 17 article described a few reasons why fossil fuels benefit humanity.

Of course, several people on Facebook blasted the article, when they said, “Fossil fuels are bad because they emit CO2.”

There is an unfolding tragedy around the world as fossil fuels are banned or economically black balled.

We need only turn to Africa to see how the war on fossil fuels fosters conditions that leave people living in poverty.

The war on fossil fuels is literally killing people.

While natural gas is cleaner than coal, many parts of the world lack natural gas, but have large supplies of coal.

Sub-Saharan Africa is an area that is beset with poverty and short life expectancy.

Here is how McKinsey & Company describes the current situation.

“There is a direct correlation between economic growth and electricity supply. If sub-Saharan Africa is to fulfill its promise, it needs power—and lots of it. Sub-Saharan Africa is starved for electricity.”

“It has 13 percent of the world’s population, but 48 percent of the share of the global population without access to electricity.”

While the average American consumes over 14,000 kWh/year, in the Central African Republic, it is 29 kWh/year, and in Chad, it’s only 8 kWh/year.

Energy access is defined by the International Energy Agency (IEA) as 250 kWh/year and 500 kWh/year, for rural and urban areas respectively.

Three resources are available in Sub-Saharan Africa that could be used to generate electricity — coal, natural gas and oil. All are fossil fuels.

Distribution of these resources is spotty. Natural gas is primarily in Nigeria, with some scattered in a few other countries, mainly the Congo, Namibia and Rwanda.

There are large reserves of coal in South Africa, with small reserves sprinkled throughout many other areas.

This coal could be used to generate electricity, but environmentalists are depriving African countries the money they need to build coal-fired power plants.

The Obama administration has announced it’s cutting off funding for coal-fired plants overseas.

And, in a major shift, the World Bank will also cut off funding for coal-plants around the world.

This is a tragedy, because it will condemn millions to live in poverty and die at an early age. In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, there are 600 million people without access to electricity.

NASA Satellite Image of Nighttime Africa

NASA Satellite Image of Nighttime Africa

While there are other problems in Africa, such as graft and religious warfare, the cheapest and most easily used resource is now being made unavailable for building power plants in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Renewables, except for hydro in the Congo, are unrealistic. Money is in short supply, and largely unavailable for expensive renewable alternatives. Without gas turbines for back-up, wind is even more unreliable. Solar only generates electricity during the day so African countries would go dark at night.

Other countries are also targeted by the war on fossil fuels.

India and Indonesia, two very important and populous countries, need electricity.

In India, the average person consumes only 600 kWh/year, while in Indonesia, it’s only 629 kWh/year.

Indonesia has large coal reserves for coal-fired power plants, and for export to sustain its economy.

India has large coal reserves which it is trying to develop, primarily so it can generate more electricity.

Indonesia 2014, Photo by D. Dears

Indonesia 2014, Photo by D. Dears

Do we expect these countries, with large populations, to relegate their citizens to continued poverty because of the war on fossil fuels?

Similarly, China is developing its coal reserves and building new ultra-supercritical, highly efficient, coal-fired power plants.

Without the participation of India, Indonesia and China, it’s impossible to cut CO2 emissions worldwide and prevent atmospheric CO2 emissions from increasing.

The lack of electricity affects people in other ways.

Millions don’t have access to drinking water.

While Africa, Asia and South America have many rivers that can provide cooling water for power plants, many locations lack the ability to distribute the water to communities located some distance from rivers.

Distributing water requires the use of pumps, driven either with electricity or fossil fuels.

Irrigation of rice paddies and farms require water distributed to them by electricity or fossil fuel driven pumps. There are foot driven pumps, using a man walking on them, but that in itself is a tragic waste.

Consumers in countries lacking adequate supplies of electricity are rioting, upsetting the social order.

The war on fossil fuels is a tragedy, because it’s condemning people to poverty and an early death.

The use of fossil fuels is beneficial to mankind, and the war on fossil fuels is immoral.

* * * * * *

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. sandek1 permalink
    April 10, 2015 10:36 am

    A question?

    Have there been any studies comparing the loss of human life due to the under development or non development of coal and other fossil fuels compared to the loss of human life if man made climate change is real?

    Keith Sanderson

    • April 10, 2015 10:46 am

      Let me rephrase the question because there is no question that climate change over the past 100 years is real, and that some of that is due to man, mostly from agriculture and forest destruction.
      Have there been studies on death and destruction if atmospheric CO2 levels rise beyond 450 ppm? None that I am aware of. There have been papers that conjecture about the perils of CO2 rising above 450 ppm, but everything is based on computer models that have been proven to be inaccurate.
      Meanwhile in Africa, the mortality rate is well established, and as McKinsey points out, without electricity it won’t improve.
      Thanks for the question. Others are also wondering the same thing.

  2. Brian H permalink
    April 14, 2015 1:57 am

    CO2 emissions should be maximized.

    • April 14, 2015 8:36 am

      Thanks for your comment. They certainly shouldn’t be cut. And increasing them would help plant growth.

  3. john permalink
    April 19, 2015 7:08 pm

    This writing should be mandatory reading for high school admission, driving and voting. Very well done and of course unnoticed.
    I have come to the sad conclusion that things are getting even worse for homo sapiens than I expected, trust in that I have placed the bar exceedingly low. How can a person not understand simple principle’s you have eloquently laid out? If there was a reality T.V show about reality maybe there would be a glimmer of hope.
    Of course anything with kindness and intelligence wouldn’t fly a real ratings stinker. However when there isn’t enough wind-solar to power gibberish it might be noticed.

    Strong work man

Trackbacks

  1. "War on Fossil Fuels Tragedy" - Secure Energy
  2. Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #176 | Watts Up With That?

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