Needless air travel is killing the poor

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu says that businessmen who take flights rather than use video conferencing are adding to global warming that is condemning millions of the world's poorest people to death.

The former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town said that developed countries had caused global warming and must therefore take the lead in slashing emissions of climate changing carbon gases.

The problem with the above is that we have actually no proof, as yet, that humans – whether developed countries or not – have in fact CAUSED global warming. The real jury, not that of the ones with an agenda, is still out on this.

As much as I respect Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu he is just following the accepted trend – the trend we are all being pushed into – as to “global warming” (the real warming in fact stopped about 7 years ago).

"It is the countries which are the least responsible for causing climate change that are paying the heaviest price," he said in a video message to a meeting of the World Development Movement lobby group in July 2008.

"Do not fly in the face of the poor by allowing the emissions produced by endless and unnecessary business flights to keep growing."

Scientists claim that average global temperatures will rise by between 1.8 and 4.0 degrees Celsius this century due to burning fossil fuels for power and transport. They note that emissions at altitude are many times worse than at ground level. But they completely want to deny the truth that was found in Australia and to which the IPCC had to concede, namely that the temperatures have plateaued out in 2001 and have not risen since.

Yes, we still have a Climate Change, one that is more or less natural to the Earth, and one that we cannot stop though we may be able to mitigate it. What we, primarily, must do is find ways to live with it and to mitigate its impact.

That does not mean, however, that we should stop doing all the things to benefit the environment that we are doing presently, from renewable energy, to recycling and video conferencing, and everything in between. On the contrary. We must increase our environmentally beneficial activities and do all those things and more of them.

We, modern man, have done so much damage to the Earth that anything we can do to mitigate that can only be applauded but... let us stop pretending that we can control the cycles of the Earth and that we have affected that.

These rising temperatures will cause droughts, floods, crop failures and water shortages, putting millions of lives at risk, the scientists claim. But temperatures, so it was found, have not actually risen even by a fraction, since 2001. So how are the rising?

Yes, “Climate Change” is for real, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu is correct in that, as are all the others, and indeed famine may be increasing as will other phenomena, such as droughts, floods, hurricanes, and such like. But this is due to the fact that the world is warmer and remaining warmer that it has been for a long time.

In addition to that a lot of it is caused, that is to say that lowering of the water table and also the floods, etc. due to the physical damage that man, including and especially man in Africa, has done to the natural environment there.

No person in the developed world cut down the trees in the Savannah belt which is leading to the southern advancement of the Sahara, for instance. The Africans did that all by themselves. No one forced Kenya to grow cash crops instead of food. It was a case of exploiting world markets instead. In other words, it is and was greed. The same for the logging in the Amazon and elsewhere in the rainforests. It is fuelled by financial greed.

"As an African,” Desmond Tutu said, “I urgently call on ordinary people in rich countries to act as global citizens, not as isolated consumers. We must listen to our consciences, and not to governments who speak only about economic markets.”

Nothing could be more true. And those markets will cease to exists especially if the workers have no food and cannot work the plantations and such. We ravage the Earth in pursuit of a quick buck. Well, the big conglomerates do. Where does that leave the poor and you and me?

Not only the Africans are the ones that are suffering and that are going to suffer or only those in the developing world. The poorer strata everywhere will suffer, as they do now already with the ever increasing price of oil and gas.

We must get away from our dependence on oil and gas for heating and electricity. We must embrace renewable, including wood-fired CHP plants on every city block. But, and this is also very important, we must also stop the stupid notion of biofuels from crop plants such as corn, and others. While we have people go hungry we cannot and must not make diesel or ethanol from foods, unless it is food waste and creates methane.

Transport, whether personal or business, including haulage, must look at new ways and new sources. Electric vehicles must become the norm and such like. NO biofuels that make things even worse.

With modern technology, aviation, except for airfreight of mail and such, has had its day, to a large degree and, maybe, we should look at a more pleasurable long distance travel once again, that of sea travel, maybe even again under sail.

© M Smith (Veshengro, July 2008