Deepak Lal, one of the world’s leading development economists, wrote in his book Poverty and Progress: Realities and Myths about Global Poverty:
The greatest threat to the alleviation of the structural poverty of the Third World is the continuing campaign by western governments, egged on by some climate scientists and green activists, to curb greenhouse emissions, primarily the CO2 from burning fossil fuels. …[I]t is mankind’s use of the mineral energy stored in nature’s gift of fossil fuels … [that] allowed the ascent from structural poverty which had scarred humankind for millennia.
To put a limit on the use of fossil fuels without adequate economically viable alternatives is to condemn the Third World to perpetual structural poverty.
Although the harm such policies would bring to these poorest of the poor around the world is our greatest concern, we cannot ignore the harm they would bring to millions in the developed world as well.
The starkest measure of that is probably the increase in excess winter deaths (EWDs) caused by fuel poverty. This is a problem that has arisen around Europe over the last decade or so. Policies to reduce global warming by mandatory substitution of more expensive wind and solar energy for less expensive energy generated from coal and natural gas have caused home heating costs to rise substantially, resulting in a rapid increase in fuel poverty—defined as needing to spend 10 percent or more of household income on home heating. This in turn has led to an increase in EWDs.
In each of the last five winters, England and Wales recorded an average of about 27,860 EWDs. Research by the World Health Organization concludes that from 30 to 40 percent of EWDs in Europe and Great Britain over that period are attributable to fuel poverty. If that is so, then fuel poverty caused an average of 8,358 to 11,144 deaths in each of those winters in England and Wales alone.
How many fuel poverty-caused EWDs would similar energy cost increases have caused in the United States, with a population over five-and-a-half times larger? An average of from 46,000 to 62,000 per year. (This doesn’t even account for the fact that much of the United States experiences much colder winters than Great Britain.)
And fuel poverty-caused EWDs aren’t simply deaths that occur a few days, weeks, or perhaps months earlier than they otherwise would have. That’s what EWDs are, without fuel poverty. These are deaths that might not have occurred for years to come in the absence of fuel poverty.
That’s a good reason to sign An Open Letter on Climate Change to the People, their Local Representatives, the State Legislatures and Governors, the Congress, and the President of the United States of America.
Watch this video to learn more about fuel poverty.