Michael Moore’s documentary, “Planet of the Humans” has turned the modern environmental movement on it’s head. In exposing and eviscerating the folly of the “alternative” energy movement, the piece is surely causing some sleepless nights for many who had been making a comfortable living in the heavily subsidized and utterly unsustainable world of large-scale solar, wind and biomass energy generation.
Written and narrated by Jeff Gibbs, “Planet of the Humans” doesn’t actually expose anything new about the renewable energy world. Conservative sources have been pointing out the inherent flaws in attempts to convert the world to solar and wind energy sources for decades. What makes this film explosive is that is was produced and written by a couple of the most unapologetic left wingers on the planet. The “green” left has been caught flat footed as a pair of their staunchest allies has completely torn their agenda to force “renewable” energy sources upon the world to the ground..
Make no mistake. Moore and Gibbs have hardly had some epiphany and conversion to capitalism. If anything it is their loathing of capitalism which drew them to create “Planet of the Humans” as the profiteering happening through “renewable” energy schemes was simply too galling for them to watch any longer.
Gibbs makes it clear in his piece that he still sees humanity as a scourge upon the planet and how our unbridled population growth will surely destroy it. It is a pretty defeatist and negative conclusion at the end of the film.
Using apocalyptic predictions based on human population growth in order to promote socialism is far from new. Paul Ehrlich had a bestseller on his hands in 1968 when he wrote “The Population Bomb”. It projected societal collapse by the 1980s due to population growth and his work was constantly cited in order to justify expanding state control.
While the world population did indeed continue to grow, human ingenuity kept the world from crashing into a dystopian nightmare as Ehrlich predicted. Improved agricultural practices along with integrated world trade has actually led to a great reduction in world poverty despite population growth.
Still there can be no doubt that humanity is growing at an unsustainable rate. At some point our population will surpass our ability to feed it and things will be catastrophic indeed. With the world economic collapse due to pandemic measures, this crisis may very well be on our hands right away.
I share the concerns of Moore, Gibbs and Ehrlich with world population. I diverge from them greatly when it comes to what to do about it however. They want to see an increase in socialism in order to somehow battle this issue. They feel if we can drag the rich down into some kind of egalitarian society, we can reduce the burden on the planet.
The problem with their approach is that it is only the affluent who can afford to keep their population down.
Have a look at the world fertility rates below. The pattern is rather stark.
The more poor a nation is, the higher the fertility rate. In some African nations they are as high as seven births per woman while in affluent developed nations the rate is well under two per woman.
Wealthy, developed nations are actually in a negative population growth pattern while the poorest of the nations are seeing explosive population growth.
There are a number of factors contributing to this. One of the major ones is that people in developing nations need large families simply in order to survive. They need a large working household in order to maintain their meager living. They don’t have the luxury of pension plans and senior care centers like we do. They need a large and growing brood of kids to keep the family going and to care for them in later years.
Education and ready access to birth control are big factors as well but again, those are considered luxuries in the developing world while we take them for granted.
To reduce the rate of world population growth we need to raise the wealth of the poor rather than reduce the wealth of the affluent.
Energy is a key component in making a nation wealthy. Energy costs impact every aspect of living as they impact the production, transport and distribution of all consumer goods. Affordable energy is essential in modern communication networks and in the creation of safe, healthy households.
The most cost-effective means of energy has been and remains fossil fuels. That point was driven deeply home by Moore’s film. Coal, oil and natural gas are still the main energy sources on earth and are likely to remain so for some time. Instead of fighting the development of these resources, we need to be expanding their scope while striving to be more efficient in the consumption and production of them.
The developing world doesn’t need windmills and solar panels. They need dependable and affordable energy sources. Oil, gas and coal provide that.
Transportation networks and vehicles provide labor and product mobility which brings sustainable economic growth to nations. Quit pissing around pretending that Teslas are going to help folks in Niger and lets help them build solid roads with asphalt (oil product) and get them affordable gas driven vehicles. Use clean burning coal and gas technology to increase their electrical generation abilities.
Help bring in sustainable farming practices with modern implements and fertilizers (again oil is required). This reduces the slash and burn farming practices which are deforesting the world in developing nations.
Home heating and cooking with everything from wood scraps to cattle dung can end with modern natural gas distribution networks. This would greatly reduce particulate emissions and frees up families to work on things more productive than seeking new fuels to burn in their homes day by day.
Modern communication networks can bring general education levels higher as remote learning can be spread throughout developing nations. This again though requires affordable energy and consumer goods which can only come from fossil fuels.
This will be the work of decades if not generations but if we truly want to bring the population of humans under control, we have to increase the wealth of people in the developed world to the point where they can afford that luxury of having a small family which we have. That will never happen if the key component of affordable energy is not taken into account.
Reduced population growth means reduced consumption in general which of course is better for the environment as a whole.
If we can take our eyes off the pie-in-the-sky projects such as solar panels in Botswana or windmills in Kenya and we stop trying to drag down wealthy nations rather than building up the poor nations, we may just be able to get our population growth under control one day. That will take a great change in thinking as we need to stop demonizing affordable energy generation means and start developing them to their full potential.
Oil has never been as affordable as it is right now. There will never be a better time to take advantage of that for the benefit of the developing world than right now. Lets get on it.