United Nations: Earth ‘Has a Fever,’ Reliable Energy is the Virus

Does the UN think humans are a disease infecting the Earth? As Bloomberg reports:

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stepped up his call for all nations rich and poor alike to fight global warming, seeking to break a dispute over which should move first to rein in fossil-fuel pollution.

Speaking as senior ministers arrived at a United Nations gathering of envoys from 190 countries, Ban expressed alarm that the world isn’t moving quickly enough on the issue.

Our planet has a fever and it is getting hotter every day,” Ban said at a press conference in Lima today. “We can no longer afford to burn our way to prosperity. We must take action now. The more we delay, the more we will have to pay.” [emphasis mine]

His admonition is revealing. As any parent knows, fever is the body’s natural defense mechanism against infection. It is our immune system’s response to invading bacteria and viruses that would do us harm.

By Ban’s logic, reliable energy is a virus triggering Earth’s “fever.” He is arguing that most of the energy we use—natural gas, oil, and coal—emits carbon dioxide and raises the planet’s temperature. That makes mankind’s energy use deleterious to Mother Nature, in the same way a virus makes us sick.

What would it take to abate Earth’s “fever”? Ban’s solution is to decrease carbon dioxide emissions by increasing energy efficiency standards (use less energy) and replace inexpensive and reliable energy (natural gas, oil, and coal) with expensive and unreliable sources (wind and solar).

Unfortunately, Ban’s cure is worse than the disease. Access to reliable energy is strongly correlated with human health and prosperity. As we explain here, energy access is consistent with higher life expectancy, lower infant mortality rates, and improved access to sanitation facilities.

It should come as little surprise, then, that developing nations like China and India are reluctant to take Ban’s medicine. Global energy demand is projected to increase 37 percent by 2040, according to the International Energy Agency, driven largely by developing countries. IEA expects affordable and reliable supplies of natural gas, oil, and coal—not Ban’s preferred sources—to meet most of that demand. Those fuels will save lives and lift millions of people out of poverty.

World leaders should reject the notion that reliable energy is tantamount to a virus. Affordable and reliable energy makes people’s lives better by providing a critical building block to escape poverty and lead better, cleaner, and more prosperous lives.

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