InÂ March at TED (Thinking, Entertainment, Design), Hans Rosling gave a presentation that clearly demonstrates the great strides the world has made by adopting Capitalism over the past forty years. Please watch this in its entirety, there are things that will amaze you throughout.
Pay attention to China’s adaptation of Capitalism, and Bangladesh’s, and what inevitably followed.
(Hat tip to Pajamas Media for the pointer to this important presentation)
Before you think this is revolutionary thought I’ll point out that Science Fiction writers are generally ahead of the academic crowd when it comes to observations like this, see David Brin’s post from 2005. Also, if you want to play with the graph he’s using yourself, or track particular countries, please go to the sidebar link to “Gapminder” under the info and think-tank blogroll.
It’s a tough question as to which comes first when youÂ view humanity’s progression throughout history: Energy or Wealth, but where freedom and capitalism flourishes, you will see that energy use skyrockets. With that comes longer life span, moreÂ wealth, better education,Â and better quality ofÂ life.Â
High Energy societies enjoy low birth rates, high literacy, long life spans, a life of plenty, low infant mortality rates, and best of all, time to create and produce more than they consume. It’s somewhat of a chicken or egg question as to which comes first: Energy, or Wealth — but each continues to beget and recreate the other.
So is energy independence enough for America? Energy is the most valuable thing on the planet at the moment – with energy we can clean the environment, with energy we can feed the 9.2 billion people who will be here on planet earth in another forty three years.
With cheap, plentiful energy we can defeat poverty, despair, and dangerous ideologies.Â Â Would Pakistan’s North Waziristan province be aÂ breeding groundÂ for terrorists if they were energy-rich instead of freezing every winter and load shedding electricity, would they feel less anger if they didn’t have one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world? Would Africans have such brutally short lifespans if they had refrigeration, water purification, and simple things like air conditioning? Do you think there will be more wars, or fewer wars if most of the world is energy-rich instead of energy poor?
So Energy independence is a nice buzz word, but it’s really not enough. America instead must become a net energy exporter, and we must lead the way to cheap, clean, plentiful power for all the world. Besides, if Energy in any form is the new coin of the realm thenÂ exporting energy will keep your great-grandchildren employed and our nation great.
The retrograde, stasist brake on this is the Environmental Imperialism of the left. The current thinking is that we must reduce, not increase, energy consumption. That’s pure foolishness. The cleanest streams in the state of CaliforniaÂ are the outflows of many ofÂ their state-of-the-art sewage treatment plants, not the streams in the high Sierras, and it takes a great deal of energy to make that water so clean.
The averageÂ preparation of a dinnerÂ in America pollutes a lot less thanÂ cooking dinner than Sub-Saharan Africa. In the West dinners are cooked with low pollution gas or electric ranges, while in Sub-Saharan Africa dinner is prepared over a woodfire.
From BurningIssues.comÂ [editor’s note: this is an advocacy group that sometimes goes a bit overboard but all of the below is factual.]Â
The particulate matter in wood smoke is so small that closed doors and windows cannot stop it from entering, even in newer energy-efficient weather-tight homes. 90% of wood smoke is in the most harmful particle size range (PM2.5) averaging less than 1 micron (one millionth of a meter), allowing the fine particles to remain airborne for up to 3 weeks. The particles are so small that they can penetrate into the deepest recesses of the lungs.
These particles become efficient vehicles for transporting toxic gases, bacteria and viruses deep into the lungs where they do the most damage and cannot be coughed up, and from where the chemicals pass directly into the blood stream.
Wood smoke contains over 100 different chemicals and compounds, including
- carbon monoxide
- butyl aldehyde
- substituted furans
- acetic acid
- formic acid
- nitrogen oxides (NO, NO2)
- sulfur dioxide
- methyl chloride
- oxygenated monoaromatics
- guaiacol (and derivatives)
- phenol (and derivatives)
- syringol (and derivatives)
- catechol (and derivatives)
- particulate organic carbon
- polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
- Na, Mg, Al, Si, S, Cl, K, Ca, Ti, V, +Cr, +Mn, Fe, +Ni
- Cu, Zn, Br, +Pb
- particulate elemental carbon
- normal alkanes (C24-C30)
- cyclic di/triterpenoids
- dehydroabietic acid
- isopimaric acid
- chlorinated dioxins
So essentially woodsmoke is a complex, poisonous mess of particulates, neurotoxins, and carcinogens packaged with some harmless material. Many of these substances hover near the top ofÂ toxicologist’sÂ hit lists. Do we really want the poor of the world polluting this much and suffering from it so much?
The leftover thinking from the sixties environmental movement that drives the current global warming buzzÂ is killing people in third world countries. Though well intended, the outcome is that the world gets polluted more in a low-energy societies. It’s time the environmentalists stopped fighting High Energy and Capitalism, instead if they truly want what they say they do they should become ardent proponents of both.