People who oppose a global shift to renewable energy sure have some funny ways of trying to make their case. Just last night, for example, someone emailed me to defend Sarah Palin’s comparison of climate change to eugenics, and to, in turn, accuse environmentalists of endorsing … genocide. His logic? Climate policy necessitates denying developing countries access to electricity, that electricity consumption is directly correlated with life expectancy. Take away fossil fuels, and you’ll have blood on your hands.
The accusation of genocide was a nice flourish, but this is actually a fairly common argument: Those wedded to fossil fuels often call upon a concern for the poor (a concern that, strangely enough, tends to disappear when the conversation turns to, say, food stamps). Media Matters has compiled some of those so-called crocodile tears for the poor in conservative media, from Fox News calling climate politics a way for “rich people” to “deny” resources to others to Rush Limbaugh suddenly caring about the economic growth of third-world countries.
The rub, of course, is that these countries are often at the highest risk of suffering the consequences of climate change: of seeing their low-lying homes engulfed by rising sea levels; of changing temperatures and weather patterns threatening food security and harming agriculture-dependent economics. The costs of both mitigating their contribution to climate change and preparing for its inevitable impacts, according to an Overseas Development Institute report, threatens some of these countries’ very ability to pull themselves out of poverty.