Poor people need access to energy if they are to improve their lives, and that means, like it or not, burning hydrocarbons, at least initially. The burning of wood for food, coal or natural gas to heat homes, and gas and diesel to power cars and trucks is inescapable if we want to help such people escape dire poverty.
If the use of such energy is rationed or restricted, this will disproportionately impact the poor, and will help keep them mired in poverty.
The same logic applies to countries as a whole. I trust that the Pope will remind the world that the only way that peoples and nations lift themselves out of poverty is by doing the hard work of producing goods and services themselves. This, too, requires access to energy.
A drastic restriction on the use of fossil fuels will have little impact on climate, we now know, but would prolong the global recession, and would do dire harm to poor countries.
Climate treaty supporters know this, and so they argue that wealthy nations must subsidize the costs that poor nations will bear under such a treaty.
But the forced transfer of wealth from developed to undeveloped countries will not jumpstart development any more than forced wealth transfers within countries cure poverty. All they do is create privileged classes of political elites with an interest in perpetuating their own personal “poverty” gravy train.
A climate treaty that raises the cost of the energy that the poor need to improve their lives would create exactly what the Pope apparently wants to avoid, namely, the “tragedy of social exclusion.” By raising the cost of energy to prohibitive levels, the poor would be excluded from prosperity. Forever.
Fourth, I would pray the Pope would strongly argue that no solution to environmental problems should involve the sacrifice of human lives.
This is no idle concern. For some time now the radical environmentalists have regarded babies as little more than “carbon dioxide emitters.” At the same time, climate change has been used to justify the targeting of poor peoples for elimination through population control programs.
The program laid out by the radical environmentalists—the restriction of fossil fuels—would eliminate the best opportunity for the poor to make economic progress—and then use their continued poverty as an excuse to eliminate them.
The Pope should point out that this is nothing more than the latest deceit of eugenicist-minded population controllers, who continue to want more babies from the "fit" and fewer babies from the "unfit." These categories are today defined more in terms of wealth than race, but the end result is the same: poor people of color are targeted for elimination.
To understand just how radical this movement is, the Pope should say, you need look no further than China. Climate change enthusiasts at the UN actually applaud China’s brutal one-child policy, which they see as having rid the planet of 400 million little carbon emitters.
They are willing to overlook the forced abortion of tens of millions of babies. They express no concern that over the fact that China is building one coal-fired power plant a week to increase its energy supply. They are even willing to overlook the irresponsible release of thousands of tons of real chemical pollutants into the atmospheric commons each year by Chinese factories.
Why do the radical environmentalists give China a pass on pollution? Because it is killing its young in such large numbers. They know that China’s demand for energy will eventually drop when its population goes into irreversible decline.
Let us hope that Pope Francis’ forthcoming encyclical reflects the more sensible voices that surround him. Cardinal George Pell, the former archbishop of Sydney who manages the Vatican’s budget, has pointed out the obvious fact that global warming has largely ceased (something even the radicals tacitly admit, otherwise why change the name to climate change?), and that carbon dioxide is a vital nutrient necessary for plant growth and food production.
If the Pope’s forthcoming encyclical debunks the false gods of radical environmentalism, displays a sound understanding of both basic science and economics, and raises a crucial moral issue—it is immoral for the wealthy countries to wage war on the populations of the poor nations—it will do a mighty service to the truth.
Steven W. Mosheris the President of the Population Research Institute and the author of Population Control: Real Costs, Illusory Benefits.