Mark D. Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion & Democracy, reports on Christians visiting Malawi to see first hand the devastation that man-made climate change has had on impoverished Africans.
However, what these well-meaning but naive Christians are told (and then faithfully parrot to their church friends when they get home) just doesn't jibe with the facts.
But then, who really wants to bother with truth when politically-correct error has so much else going for it?
...Their narrative is familiar: Indifferent Christians in America are warming the earth with their callous generation of carbon dioxide, causing increased poverty and suffering in an already very poor nation like Malawi.
Except that actual data does not confirm this storyline. From 2003 to 2011, Malawi’s GNP increased from $2.4 billion to $5.6 billion, a 133 percent increase. Per capita GNP has increased from $580 to $870, a 50 percent increase. Average life expectancy has increased from 47 to 54, a 15 percent increase. From 1998 to 2010, the poverty rate fell from 65 percent to 51 percent, a 20 percent fall. The visiting evangelicals stressed declining water access. But rural access to water has increased from 71 to 80 percent from 2006 to 2010, a 13 percent increase. (The relevant data can be found here.)
The evangelical environmentalists visiting Malawi emphasized climate change’s dire effect on farming. But food production from 2003 to 2010 increased 66 percent. Crop production in those years increased 76 percent. Livestock production increased 72 percent. Cereal production per hectare increased 82 percent. (Data here.) Malawi of course remains a very poor nation. But available data seemingly show it becoming less, not more, poor, irrespective of climate trends…
Evangelical environmentalists spotlight the world’s poor as victims of carbon dioxide-induced global warming. But in fact hundreds of millions have escaped extreme poverty mostly due to economic growth fueled by fossil fuels. The RNS article noted 90 percent of Malawi lives off an electrical grid. Malawian electricity is mostly geothermal generated. But Malawi is increasingly purchasing electricity from South Africa, whose electricity is over 70 percent coal produced, with most of the rest oil or gas. And the Chinese are helping Malawi build a coal fired electrical plant. The Malawian government estimates electrical demand will double by 2020, citing especially the needs of its mining industry, while the UN says they will triple.
Should Malawi and other poor nations be denied access to greater electrification, which is essential to increasing living standards, because it will generate more carbon dioxide? It’s estimated that lifting most of Africa out of poverty would require increasing power supplies by ten or twenty fold.
God bless the concerned environmentalists who visited Malawi. But we must reckon with the possibility that the people of Malawi need and want more electricity and economic growth than U.S. and Western climate activism.