Eco-Imperialism's Deadly Consequences

The United Nations’ global warming bureaucracy is meeting (vacationing?) in Milan this week pondering how to revive the beleaguered international global warming treaty known as the Kyoto Protocol. This week’s news that Russia might say “nyet” to the treaty all but seals its doom.

“A number of questions have been raised about the link between carbon dioxide and climate change which do not appear convincing and clearly it sets very serious brakes on economic growth which do not look justified,” said an aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The treaty’s scientific and economic shortcomings are both excellent reasons for rejecting it. Another reason not mentioned nearly often enough, however, is exposed in compelling fashion by Paul Driessen in his new book "Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death."

Driessen, a senior fellow at the Atlas Economic Research Foundation (search) and a former member of the Sierra Club (search) and Zero Population Growth (search), reveals how the ideological environmental movement -- essentially comprised of wealthy, left-leaning Americans and Europeans -- wants to impose its views on billions of poor, desperate Africans, Asians and Latin Americans.

Eco-imperialism (search) violates these people’s most basic human rights, maintains Driessen, and denies them economic opportunities, the chance for better lives, and the right to rid their countries of diseases that were vanquished long ago in the U.S. and Europe.

Hollywood actor and eco-imperialist Ed Begley, Jr., for example, preaches that “the two most abundant forms of power on Earth are solar and wind…It’s much cheaper for everybody in Africa to have electricity where they need it, on their huts.”

Drissen points out, however, that while solar panels would be a major improvement over “current” conditions in many areas of the third world, they are but a band-aid approach to the developing world’s critical electrical deficiency.

“They cannot possibly provide sufficient power for anything more than basic necessities, and large-scale photovoltaic electricity is far more expensive than what is produced by coal, natural gas, nuclear or hydroelectric pants. Wind power has the same shortcomings. For impoverished countries where few have access to electricity, these are not idle considerations,” writes Driessen.

The environmental movement “has repeatedly used the alleged threat of global eco-catastrophe -- e.g., global warming -- to override the wishes of people who most desperately need energy and progress,” he adds.

In India’s Gujarat Province (search), a dam project was halted after eco-activists pressured international lending agencies to withdraw financial support. The dam had to be stopped because it would “change the path of the river, kill little creatures along its banks and uproot tribal people in the area,” one eco-activist smugly intoned.

“The local ‘tribal people,’ however, don’t appear to appreciate her intervention,” offers Driessan. “One resident angrily called the activists’ handiwork ‘a crime against humanity,’ because the project would have provided electricity for 5,000 villages; low-cost renewable power for industries and sewage treatment plants; irrigation water for crops; and clean water for 35 million people.”

Driessan’s book isn’t limited to global warming and third world energy problems. The chapter “Sustainable Mosquitoes -- Expendable People” describes the ongoing tragedy of the eco-activist crusade against DDT.

“Our family and community are suffering and dying from [malaria], and too many Europeans and environmentalists only talk about protecting the environment,” says 34-year old Ugandan businesswoman with malaria. “But what about the people? The mosquitoes are everywhere. You think you’re safe, and you’re not. Europeans and Americans can afford to deceive themselves about malaria and pesticides. But we can’t,” she added.

The Ugandan woman is only one of more than 300 million annual victims of malaria in the third world. Between 2-3 million die every year. “Over half the victims are children, who die at a rate of two per minute or 3,000 per day -- the equivalent of 80 fully loaded school buses plunging over a cliff every day of the year,” explains Driessen.

Despite this ongoing public health horror story, the United Nations Environment Programme, World Bank, Greenpeace, Pesticide Action Network, World Wildlife Fund, Physicians for Social Responsibility and other eco-imperialist groups oppose the use of DDT (search) -- the only practical solution to the malaria crisis. The eco-imperialists’ disturbing attitude toward the third world is perhaps most frighteningly described by Robert S. Desowitz in another must-read, "The Malaria Capers," (search) (W.W. Norton, 1991).

Desowitz reports a U.S. Agency for International Development official named Edwin Cohn as saying, “The third world didn’t require a healthy labor force because there was a surplus of workers; better some people should be sick with malaria and spread the job opportunities around.” Even more bluntly, Cohn reportedly said people in the third world were “better [off] dead than alive and riotously reproducing.”

There should be no question, then, about Eco-Imperialism’s subtitle: Green power does indeed mean black death.

Steven Milloy is the publisher of, an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute and the author of Junk Science Judo: Self-defense Against Health Scares and Scams (Cato Institute, 2001).

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