In the midst of President Obama’s campaign on climate change, John Kerry traveled to India last week to “prod” the people to do more to cut carbon emissions.
“I do understand and fully sympathize with the notion that India’s paramount commitment to development and eradicating poverty is essential,” said Kerry in a speech. “But we have to recognize that a collective failure to meet our collective climate challenge would inhibit all countries’ dreams of growth and development.”
For much of the world’s population and millions of people in India, the growth and development that Kerry spoke of is just a dream. Roughly a quarter of the world’s population lacks electricity. In India there are “306.2 million people without electricity, and 705 million people who rely on wood and biomass for cooking,” according to National Geographic. Even more don’t have access to any form of motor vehicle.
This is not a trivial inconvenience for these people. It means they have no hope of realizing the quality and length of life that those in industrialized nations are accustomed to. It means no lights to do homework, no air conditioning so that windows can be closed, keeping out malarial mosquitoes. It means little protection from bitter cold nights or from rain or sweltering heat. It means plowing and planting fields with hooves and hands. Forget about refrigerators, microwaves, radios, computers, tractors, cars, medical equipment and all of the other appliances and machines that make our lives better, safer, happier and longer—these things are simply not available to huge portions of India’s population.
To these people, Kerry rehearsed the usual litany of alarmist climate claims—warning of terrible droughts, raging floods, heat waves and shortages of food and clean drinking water that would allegedly come if the people of India didn’t work towards cutting carbon emissions. Sung to the poor in India who live on the brink of death, Kerry’s words struck a terrible chord. Because the unfortunate truth is, many already succumb to these events on a regular basis.
When rivers flood, when droughts occur, when furious hurricanes rip apart lives on shore as they have done for millions of years, many in India have no way to deal with these realities. They still lack the most basic protections that we take for granted in Western nations. There is only one proven way to protect people from the fury of nature. That protection comes from industrialization. It comes from electricity, fossil fuels, machines, buildings, transportation, concrete and pipes.
It is these things that keep people safest from the storms, droughts and floods that Kerry warned about in his speech. What India doesn’t need is a politician like John Kerry telling them to cut their carbon emissions while they are desperately trying to rise out of poverty. They need to follow in our (carbon) footsteps and industrialize so they can enjoy the same protection from nature that we do.