Expensive Energy Kills Poor People

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Lesotho (pronounced “Leh – soo – too”), is a mountain fortress of a country, totally surrounded by South Africa. The people there, the Basotho (pronounced “Bah – soo – too), are tough as nails, and you’d have to be. It’s high desert country, cold in the winter, not much water. The Basotho are fiercely independent.

Back in the early days, they fought off the Boers who tried to take their land. The Boers then drove them off of the fertile lowlands and into the arid mountains. So their King cut a deal with the British Queen Victoria for the country to be a British Protectorate … very clever, one of the few parts of Africa that was never conquered and was never a colony of anybody. These days, curiously, most of the time the country is populated by old folks, and women and kids—the only real employment for hundreds of miles around are the mines of South Africa … including the coal mines. So the men are all at work in South Africa, and the country runs on the money that the miners send home.

Of a wintry morning in Maseru, the capital, there’s a haze across the city from the thousands and thousands of coal fires. By and large, these fires are warming poor women’s shacks and shanties, and cooking what passes for their kids’ breakfasts. They burn coal because it’s what they have. There are no forests, so they can’t burn wood. There are no great herds of cattle, so they can’t burn dung.

And as a result, Maseru mornings have that curious acrid smell that only comes from coal, and the haze that comes from coal burnt in leaky stoves and open three-stone fires.

I bring up this image of dirt-poor people in a dirt-poor country to provide a clear context for the New York Times report of the latest lethal IPCC recommendation, which they describe as follows:

To stand the best chance of keeping the planetary warming below an internationally agreed target of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) above the level of preindustrial times, the panel found, no more than one trillion metric tons of carbon can be burned and the resulting gas released into the atmosphere.

Just over half that amount has already been emitted since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and at the rate energy consumption is growing, the trillionth ton will be released somewhere around 2040, according to calculations by Myles R. Allen, a scientist at the University of Oxford and one of the authors of the new report. More than three trillion tons of carbon are still left in the ground as fossil fuels. SOURCE

First, the “internationally agreed target” of 2°C? I don’t recall any international agreement on that, except perhaps among attendees at one of the IPCC’s annual moribund quackathons held in Rio or somewhere.

But lets look instead at the important issue, the numbers that they give for carbon. They say we’ve burnt a half-trillion tonnes, and that we should stop when we’ve burned another half trillion tonnes, and leave the other two-and-a-half trillion tons of fossil fuels in the ground. Leave it in the ground … the mind boggles. Never happen.

So in a scant few decades, the women of Maseru are supposed to just stop burning coal? And do what? Burn their furniture? They could pull up the floorboards and burn them … if they had floors …

Dont’cha love these guys? Don’t they understand that their policies KILL PEOPLE! I apologize for shouting, but they seem to be congenitally blind to the results of their actions, so perhaps their ears still work. Do they have a plan in hand for fueling Maseru, and a thousand other Maseru’s around the world? Wind won’t do it. Sun won’t do it. So in a couple decades … what?

Here’s what they avert their eyes from.

Artificially increasing energy prices for any reason harms, impoverishes, and kills the poor.

Yes, kills. People die from the cold. If the women of Maseru have to pay more for coal, they have less money to pay for food. So they will buy a bit less coal and a bit less food, and somewhere in there, in the hidden part that far too many people don’t want to think about, kids are dying. It’s already happening. The World Bank and the US are currently refusing to fund coal-fired power plants around the world … rich people refusing cheap energy to poor people, on my planet that is disgusting and criminal behavior.

Can’t say much more than that without excessively angrifying my blood, thinking about rich 1%ers like the IPCC conclave and Myles R. Allen trying to make all fossil fuels more expensive, and blithely ignoring the lethal consequences of their actions. So I’ll leave it there, but spread the word.

Expensive energy kills poor people.

Best to all,



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