A site called Environmental Science degrees has put up a list of 50 climate blogs -- 25 believers and 25 skeptics. And this blog is actually listed ahead of Anthony Watts and Lubos Motl -- a distinction which I certainly don't deserve. Must be that the listing is in random order!
The New Graduate Who Served as IPCC Lead Author
by Donna Laframboise
I’ve been blogging about the climate bible’s health chapter. It’s worth remembering that this chapter, like the rest of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, is supposed to be a balanced, disinterested account of what the scientific literature says.
I’ve pointed out that Anthony McMichael, the person in charge when the IPCC first examined the human health implications of climate change, had made his activist leanings abundantly clear prior to landing the job. I’ve observed that Alistair Woodward, the senior person for the currently-in-progress health chapter update, is also an undisguised environmental activist.
So who else was a lead author when the IPCC initially looked at these important issues? [29-page chapter PDF]
Step forward Jonathan Patz. He qualified as a medical doctor in 1987 – his areas of study being family medicine and occupational/environmental medicine. In 1992, he graduated with a Masters degree in Public Health – the same area branch of medicine from which McMichael and Woodward hail. What appears to be Patz’s first paper – on surgery risks that extend beyond the operating room – was published in 1995.
Work on the climate bible’s health chapter appears to have begun in 1994. Which means that, a mere two years after Patz achieved his Masters, with no relevant publications whatsoever, he was one of nine people chosen to be a lead author of the IPCC’s health chapter. Remember, this is a report that is supposed to have been written by the world’s top experts.
It isn’t clear how this happened, but a recent incident provides a hint. In 2008, the University of Wisconsin-Madison (where Patz now teaches) added a book to its library on his behalf. The university explains that, when “faculty members are initially contacted, they are encouraged to select a book title representing something meaningful to them either professionally or personally” [p. 3 of this PDF].
Patz chose McMichael’s Planetary Overload (the book from which entire passages were then passed off as the original work of the health chapter writing team). In Patz’s words:
This was one of the first great books on global environmental health written by probably my most valued and respected mentor, Professor McMichael [bold added, p. 17 of this PDF].
Does Patz, like his mentor, seem closer to an environmental activist than a dispassionate scholar? Is the Pope Catholic? Patz believes we have an “urgent need to end our addiction to fossil fuels” and that we are “using up natural resources at an unsustainable rate.” Moreover, he seems to think that famine and disease aren’t conditions that have bedeviled humanity since the beginning of time. Rather, they’re the fault of the big bad Western world’s energy policies. In his words:
Considering that most developing nations are burdened by major infectious diseases and famine, which are highly dependent on climate, these countries are most vulnerable to the global warming that we in the industrialized world are causing. It’s a huge ethical problem. One could make the argument that our energy policy is indirectly exporting diseases to other parts of the world.
If an examination of the health implications of climate change is going to be relied on by health professionals, governments, scholars, and journalists should it not be produced by cool, dispassionate individuals?
Can anyone take seriously a report authored by people whose analysis is indistinguishable from that of Greenpeace?
Silly historians! Don't they know that science proves that couldn't have happened?
Recycled from Borepatch
Longtime readers know my skepticism about Anthropogenic Global Warming (the theory that man is causing an unprecedented, sudden, and catastrophic warming of the environment by burning fossil fuels and releasing carbon dioxide). The ultimate source of this skepticism is my study of history, particularly a study of the European Middle Ages which was a focus while I was in College. In particular, it seems indisputable that the Medieval Warm Period from around 800 AD to 1300 AD was as warm (if not warmer) than today. So much for "unprecedented".
Scientists say that the historical record must be wrong, and that they have scientific evidence - tree ring data - that demonstrates absolutely, positively that it was much colder in the Middle Ages than the chroniclers of the time said.
There's a very interesting set of discussions going on now about the use of photographs to push the theory of AGW. The most notorious, of course, is the photo that Science Magazine published of a polar bear on a tiny ice flow, accompanying a letter from 255 members of the National Academy of Sciences saying it's really, really a crisis, mkay?
It was a Photoshop.
A lot of the debate was "It's just a picture, who cares?" More sophisticated was "You need more competent PR flacks" to hype the science - you know, ignore or downplay the margin of error, to overemphasize the worst possible - although vanishingly unlikely - case, and to find scary images that are less obviously faked.
You're still left with those stupid medieval chroniclers, writing about scientifically impossible events, and those stupid historians, writing books about what the stupid, unscientific chroniclers said.
Case in point: sea levels. The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) writes in their Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) says that the science is clear that sea levels are rising fast and that large portions of the globe will be flooded out. ZOMG, unprecedented Thermageddon!
Except not so fast. This is all about us burning fossil fuels, right? If this sort of thing has been normal throughout history, that sort of kills the whole "unprecedented" thing, and that sort of kills the whole we-have-to-impoverish-the-world-by-giving-up-fossil-fuels thing. So what can we learn from history about sea levels? As it turns out, a lot.
Edward Longshanks was King of England in the thirteenth century (note to Climate Scientists: this is a documented fact. Srlsy!). Anyone who's seen Mel Gibson's Braveheart knows him as the Bad Guy who was trying to conquer Scotland and take away their Freeeeeeedom!
Which he did, crushing the Scots and carrying off to Westminster Abbey the Stone of Destiny (otherwise known as the Stone of Scone, but pronounced Stone of Scoon).
But Edward had first crushed the Welsh, and he did it by building a bunch of castles to dominate the Welsh landscape. Castles like Harlech.
Now take a look at this picture for a minute: you have a Castle built on a hill. Behind the castle - at the foot of the hill - is a wide plain sloping down to the sea. What's wrong with this picture? Remember, you're trying to conquer the Welsh, a feisty and unruly group, who keep raising armies to attack you. What's to stop their army from besieging the castle and starving it into submission? Stupid medieval castle builders, picking such a bad site!
Except not so fast. The chroniclers tell us that the castle was resupplied by sea. They're quite clear about this, about how ships used to sail right up to the foot of the cliff, and dock there. In other words, the sea level was higher in the Fourteenth Century than it is today. Strangely, this corroborates other historical records like the Domesday Book, which describes a large number of vineyards in England around 1090 AD. ZOMG, Medieval Thermageddon!
And so if Science Magazine can serve up a Photoshop, so can I. Here's Harlech Castle, circa 1350 AD:
The difference between the modification used by Science and the one that I made here, is that mine is actually backed up by the data. After all, the number of polar bears is increasing - they're not endangered at all. The sea did come right up to the foot of Harlech Castle's cliff. You might call mine "Fake But Accurate", as opposed to Science, who gave us "Fake But Inaccurate".
And so, the issue is not getting a higher caliber of PR Flack to torture the data to scare us with Thermageddon Just So stories. They need to stop disappearing data that falsifies their AGW theory of sudden and unprecedented warming.
The current computer models don't predict a Medieval Warm Period, nor do they predict the Little Ice Age that followed. But don't worry, say the Scientists, the current predictions are accurate. Srlsy. Trust us.
And listen to the PR Flacks. Unprecedented! Sudden! Thermageddon! On Noes - what, don't you love cute little polar bear cubs? You Denier scum. Get offa my lawn.
And this is precisely the heart of the problem: it's not at all clear that what's happening today is historically unprecedented. It's obvious that the Medieval Warm Period was warm, and it could not have been caused by all those dang coal fired power plants. In other words, we know from historical observation that the climate is variable, within the bounds of what is happening today.
So tell me again why we need to impoverish our children, and all of the Third World, by giving up fossil fuels. Come on Scientists - dazzle me.
Oh god, not another Greenpeace guilt-trip
Green advertising campaigns are aimed at scaring adults witless and turning kids into Mao-style mum-policing spies
‘Got oil? Is your pension invested in risky drilling?’ asks a newspaper advert currently running in Britain. The ad, featuring a smart-but-casual man with thick black tar on his hands, is promoting Go Beyond Oil, a Greenpeace campaign inspired by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. What the advert illustrates is the way environmental campaigning will happily alight on any passing fear in order to make us change our wicked ways.
The Go Beyond Oil website tells us: ‘Shell and BP are two of the key companies that our pension providers typically invest in heavily. In the past this has meant big returns for our pension funds. Before the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, £1 in every £7 paid in dividends to UK pension funds by FTSE 100 companies came from BP. With about 18million people across the UK holding shares in the company or paying into pension funds that have BP shares and many more with links to other oil companies, we’ve all got a lot invested in keeping the oil industry going. But this also carries a big risk for our future.’
It continues: ‘Since the oil spill, BP has been forced to cancel dividend payments to shareholders, which will affect pension investments.’ So even if you don’t care about the planet, the oil-lacquered birds or the Louisiana fishing industry, you should pull your money out of oil anyway because things will only get worse and you’ll lose loads of money.
Clearly, we Brits are getting a bit bored of being told about all the droughts, floods, hurricanes and so on that global warming will apparently cause. So getting us to fret about an impecunious old age will just have to do instead. As investment advice, withdrawing your money from BP and Shell - the UK’s golden geese, it would seem - is pretty dumb. In a world where demand for oil is only likely to increase in the short-to-medium term, as all those Chinese, Indians and Brazilians get richer and start buying cars, putting your savings into oil shares seems like a fairly smart move. Deepwater Horizon is likely to be a four million-barrel blip.
Yet the wider justifications for this pension-shrinking policy seem even dumber. Since renewable energy sources are simply not ready to take up the job currently done very successfully by oil, the campaign should surely be renamed from ‘Go Beyond Oil’ to ‘Do Without Energy’.
If the idea of self-impoverishment doesn’t appeal, greens have in recent years simply recycled an even more cynical argument: wot about the kids, man? Like anti-tobacco campaigners, environmentalists have taken to foisting the faces of children upon us and assuring us that, even if we don’t care about our own futures, we’re leaving a ticking timebomb of tragedy for our offspring (assuming that we’ve been so utterly selfish as to procreate in the first place).
This video from three years ago - again, a Greenpeace production - manages to sum up this line of argument in less than two minutes, and all with an underlying edge that brings to mind the antics of the Red Guards in Mao’s Cultural Revolution. A young man wearing a hoodie - clearly chosen for having the most punchable face and grating vocal delivery at his stage school - hectors ‘adults’ about what they’ve done to the planet.
‘If drastic measures aren’t taken soon’, our hooded young ghoul assures us, ‘by the time I grow up there won’t be any fish left in the sea. Rainforests and clean air will be a thing of the past. The polar ice caps will be gone. Oceans will rise. Entire countries will disappear. Life will change in ways you can’t even imagine. There’ll be famine, worldwide epidemics, life expectancy will be lower. We’re not just talking about the future; we’re talking about my future.’
Admittedly, a reasonable-minded viewer may very well wish such a bleak future on this insufferable brat. But a reality check is required on this litany of eco-horror. While there has been an apparent trend for the relatively thin Arctic ice cap to shrink over the past few years, the vastly bigger Antarctic ice cap - which holds more than half the world’s fresh water - is, if anything, growing. Clean air may be at a premium in the cities of some developing countries, but London’s air is cleaner than it has been for hundreds of years, suggesting you can have wealthier people and healthier air. Oceans might rise, but insignificantly. Countries might disappear - but only tiny island states whose fate may well be more to do with geology and changing sea currents than the planet’s temperatures. And as for life expectancy… well, if it really were in decline, there would be no need to fret about those pensions, would there?
In fact, the teenage eco-terror can expect - if current trends continue - to live in a much richer world, with lots of new technology to help deal with any problems from changing climatic conditions. He’s more likely to get fat than suffer famine, while being a grumpy member of the wealthiest, most comfortable generation in human history. As a stereotypical old Yorkshireman might say, kids these days don’t know they’re born. And greens wish those kids never had been.
The really creepy thing is that it’s not some angry adolescent that wrote the words for this video, but a multinational environmentalist campaign (in tandem with its marketing advisers, no doubt). These are the self-hating words of the generation that is being attacked in the video. And Greenpeace is by no means alone in using this tactic. The cover of a 2007 book, You Can Save the Planet, tells kids: ‘WARNING: Your parent’s generation has messed up the planet, now it’s up to YOU to save it.’ James Russell, author of How to Turn Your Parents Green - who doesn’t exactly look like a teenager to me - suggests children should ‘nag, pester, bug, torment and punish the people who are merrily wrecking [their] world’.
What a fantastic effort all round to create intergenerational conflict! On the one hand, greens guilt-trip adults about the hot and humid climatic nightmare they are going to inflict on their children, and on the other hand these middle-aged eco-warriors propagandise to those same children about what a bunch of selfish, short-sighted scumbags their parents are. Now there is a pint-sized eco-spy in every home, lecturing adults on the need to recycle and turn down the heating, and a library full of green tracts in every school.
This fomenting of division between parents and children is bad enough, but it is also a desperate waste of the idealism of youth. Young people may see the world in black-and-white rather than shades of grey, but that energy and desire just to go out and bulldoze through the conservatism of mum and dad can be an extremely useful way of stirring society up and encouraging change. But green politics takes that idealism and cynically exploits it for the most misanthropic ends. Whether it’s pensions, polar bears or children in peril, green campaigners demand that we should have a conscience about what we’re doing to the planet – but they don’t seem to have much in the way of a conscience when it comes to scaring adults or manipulating children.
It starts in the schools
Growing up in the 1980s, I shared a common malady with most of my contemporaries. We were taught, from an early age, that we were all doomed. Television movies like "The Day After," not to mention the evening news, had us convinced that at any moment we could all be turned to piles of smoldering, irradiated ash. The specter of nuclear war hung low over our heads. While the ridiculous "duck and cover" drills of previous decades were before my time, the signs proclaiming my Depression-era middle school a "fallout shelter" were daily reminders. I don't imagine we'd have questioned it too much had our teachers taught us how to get under our desks, tuck our heads and kiss our posteriors goodbye. We were already being taught by hip new media outlets like MTV that life was a joke and the truly cool cared about nothing.
Those teenaged nihilist themes warred with much more deeply rooted childhood messages, however, in the form of the well-meaning (including stories like "The Lorax") to environmentalist indoctrination in school. I remember learning all about "pollution" during several weeks of "social studies" (a topic I've since learned is a euphemism for failing to teach "history" to our children) in third grade. I remember just how deeply concerned I became about the threat to the planet. I remember thinking that if we didn't do something, we were all, well, doomed. I remember how powerless I felt. Very briefly, I was poised to become an environmental activist, out of nothing so much as a deeply seated sense of worry over the future.
This anxiety is the driving force behind today's environmentalist activists. While I eventually came to my senses, developing an adult's sense of realism and the ability to use basic logic, many wide-eyed children never realize this innate capacity for reason. Primed by fear, worry and helplessness at an early age, they become the hectoring, self-righteous, insufferable "green" cultists who spend their time trying to make you toe their environmentalist line.
Previously in Technocracy, I described to you the spiritual fervor of these green religionists. If you won't listen to them voluntarily, then by Gaia, they'll make you listen by bludgeoning you with the force of law. Any violation of your rights as a free citizen is justified to the green religionists, because they're afraid. Their anxiety, their helplessness, instilled in them from childhood, is untempered by common sense, unleavened by pragmatism and touched by neither logic nor skepticism. They are true believers. In their minds, the failure to believe individually is a sentence of death collectively. Seeing them as frightened children, reading "The Lorax" with tears in their eyes, how can we not at least pity them?
The problem is that when such long-rooted anxieties run unchecked in adults, violently deranged environmental lunatics result. The famous Unabomber was one; he was an environmental activist who at least lived as he preached, withdrawing into a tarpaper shack in the woods … but when that didn't assuage his sense that something must be done, he started mailing bombs to people.
Fellow green religionist James Jay Lee protested against those he believed were helping to harm his precious environment. He hated his fellow human beings so much that when he took up a gun to make his murderous point, it should not have come as a big surprise to anyone who knew him. He, like his fellow traveler green religionists, was motivated by a child's fear and helplessness in the face of impending doom. "Do something!" is the rallying cry of all such activists, and violent outbursts are the predictable results.
When such activists – children in the bodies of adults – take political power, the violence done is not with guns, but with legislation. The American people are forced, at the barrel of government gunpoint, to comply with regulations that accomplish little toward the goal of "saving the environment" while harming the economy, infringing on individual liberties and expanding the invasive role of an increasingly all-powerful bureaucracy.
The phrase "penny wise and pound foolish" comes to mind. It was a favorite of my mother's when I was growing up, and no aphorism, no homespun cliché, better characterizes the busybody environmentalists who run our lives. It is this concept and these green religionists who have effectively banned the very light bulbs I was holding in my hand when I thought of Dr. Seuss. It is they who killed the promising hydrogen car while inflicting the wretched Government Motors' Chevy Volt on drivers who don't want to buy it.
If we don't stop scaring our kids, we produce adults who are green religionists. When they take power, they pass bad laws. Denied power, they resort to violence. In every case, their anxiety is our responsibility. Worse, their fear is our shame. The Lorax may speak for the trees –but only responsible, reasoning adults can speak for the children.
Warmist Slander of Scientific Skeptics
Russell Cook notes that the Koch brothers are the new boogeymen for Warmists
Warmist true believers bitterly cling their mantra that only the corrupting influence sinister money could possibly explain skepticism toward the theory they embrace as gospel truth.
In case anyone is unfamiliar with the simplicity of the man-caused global warming idea: overwhelming scientific conclusions say we are causing floods / droughts / blazing summers / intense winters, and don't listen to any skeptic scientists -- they're corrupt.
This mantra is fine until you start asking questions. On the so-called consensus of "numerous" IPCC scientists, it appears Donna Laframboise has now exposed a rather troubling set of problems with the IPCC's 1995 Health Chapter authors, and John O'Sullivan has just recently pointed out some details the NOAA would rather not have you know about, while Steve McIntyre continues to tear down the ClimateGate scandal with ever finer levels of detail.
Considering how Exxon, Chevron, and others have climbed on the CO2 reduction bandwagon, believers of man-caused global warming may have realized the "skeptic scientists corrupted by big oil" idea is rapidly losing credibility. Skeptic populations are increasing; somebody must be funding them.
Of course, the fundamental premise of "big coal/oil funding = corruption" has never been proven; the lack of such evidence becomes quite obvious when reading Ross Gelbspan's 1997 book The Heat is On. As Gelbspan is the most widely acknowledged promulgator of this accusation, it becomes quite a challenge to find people whose accusations against skeptic scientists aren't rooted in his 1997 book.
But if those big industries are politically correct now, meet the replacement: the Koch brothers and their foundation. The most prominent mention of them recently was Jane Mayer's New Yorker article, "Covert Operations, The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama." I'll leave the accusations of the Kochs fighting Obama to others and concentrate on Mayer's contention that "... organizations fighting legislation related to climate change [are] underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups." In a nutshell, "deniers" know we're causing global warming, but they are paid to lie about it being naturally caused.
On whom does she rely on to make this point? Greenpeace, Naomi Oreskes, Joe Romm, and the Center for Public Integrity. I've already detailed Greenpeace's / Ozone Action's ties to anti-skeptic book author Ross Gelbspan and how they appear to be the epicenter of successful efforts to spread the corruption accusation starting in 1996. Regarding Naomi Oreskes, I detailed the strange two-step she took to cite Gelbspan's 1997 book in a response arising from one of my American Thinker pieces being reproduced at a different website.
Joe Romm is easily seen to be a Ross Gelbspan worshiper, where among the nine search results at his blog are two where he mistakenly calls Gelbspan a Pulitzer winner and a third where he recites a Gelbspan funding accusation verbatim. In a bit of closure, a circular reference in a Gelbspan book review goes right back to Romm.
Finally, we have the Center for Public Integrity (CPI), which Jane Mayer describes as "a nonpartisan watchdog group." A July 2008 "Denying Global Warming with John Stossel" blog piece at their website by Lisa Chiu leaves little doubt about their viewpoint on global warming. In her September 30, 2008 article, "Global Warming: Heated Denials The Organized Effort to Cast Doubt on Climate Change," she says:
"In 1991, a group of utility and coal companies created the Information Council on the Environment to lead an advertisement and public relations campaign to "reposition global warming as theory rather than fact," as author Ross Gelbspan wrote in his book The Heat is On".
A few paragraphs later, she quotes Greenpeace's Kert Davies. In 1998, Davies was the Science Policy Director of Ozone Action -- small world. Speaking of that, CPI's Chief Operating Officer Ellen McPeake is also a current Greenpeace Fund board member, along with being its former Chief Operating Officer.
If one circular reference involving Joe Romm weren't enough, there is this CPI page with a direct link to his dire blog "Memo to enviros, progressives: The deniers and dirty energy bunch are ‘full of passionate intensity' -- and eating our lunch on the climate bill!", while he cited CPI last December, and the prior February.
What's the common theme, from Mayer's New Yorker article to the 1991 NY Times article that was one of the first to report the "reposition global warming" phrase that Gelbspan adopted six years later? Industry funding = corruption. What's been the constant problem with that theme? No proof that skeptic scientists fabricated science conclusions or assessments because of the money. Borrowing a standard challenge seen in internet forums, "Show us photos, or it never happened."
In the seventh paragraph of his 9/7 U.K. Telegraph blog, James Delingpole says:
"How many times do I have to explain why the "funded by Big Oil" meme is little more than black propaganda put about by green activists? (For chapter and verse on this, read Russell Cook's superb piece of investigative journalism at American Thinker)".
I'm flattered and embarrassed. I'm no investigative journalist, I've never taken a journalism class, and I don't want to be a journalist when I grow up. I'm just a semi-retired idiot graphic artist who keeps asking how policymakers, environmentalists and mainstream news outlets justify their demand to regulate CO2 and why skeptic scientists should be silenced. I am persistent -- my question about that now appears for the third time at the PBS ombudsman's page, this time relative to the Koch accusation, under the heading "More on Koch." How will they be able to hold back a rising tide of people asking the same question?
They don’t give a dam about development
Greens must have very hard hearts if they can look at flood-hit Ethiopia and still say ‘don’t build dams’
Recently, a group of international NGOs has been leading a campaign to stop the building of the Gibe III hydroelectric dam in Ethiopia. They say the dam will disrupt the local ecosystem and the traditional lifestyles of ‘indigenous people’. So why are these groups, normally so vocal about geographical displacement, not up in arms about the tragedy that has unfolded in Ethiopia over the past few weeks? At least 19 people have died and 25,000 have been displaced because of floods.
The UN expects 300,000 to be affected by the floods in Ethiopia this month, and with the ensuing health risks, including malaria and Acute Watery Diarrhoea, as well as the severe damage caused to crops, livelihood assets and infrastructure, the impact of the heavy rains has certainly been devastating. One reason why this hasn’t been big news might be because Ethiopia experiences severe disruptions every year during the rainy season. Over 183,000 people were affected by floods in 2007, and the year before 600 people were killed, with a further 300,000 affected.
So why are NGOs like Survival International and International Rivers, which are spearheading the protest against Gibe III, not focusing their efforts on lobbying for investment in smart, ambitious and truly sustainable solutions to prevent the disastrous, and avoidable, effects of floods which every year displace, kill and plunge thousands into poverty? Why are they opposing large-scale development projects – like dams – that could contain the impact of both droughts and torrential downpours?
The answer is because their interest in preserving the lifestyles of ‘indigenous peoples’ really means that they do not want Ethiopia and other poor nations to modernise and have what we in the West have: industrialisation.
In the case of the anti-Gibe III campaign, NGOs say the dam will disrupt the lifestyles of tribes living along the Omo River, who depend on flood-retreat cultivation to (barely) sustain themselves. They say the dam will ‘end the [Omo] river’s natural flood cycle, on which the downstream communities have depended for growing food, fishing and grazing animals for thousands of years’. But this dependence effectively amounts to river-enslavement, with Ethiopians living at the mercy of nature rather than taming it.
The NGOs’ ostensibly humane impulse to protect ‘indigenous tribes’ in fact represents an abhorrent, paternalistic attitude to Africans, whom they treat in the same way that a zoologist might treat an exotic animal species. They regard these people as belonging to nature rather than to human society, as being part of a fragile ecosystem which should be preserved at the cost of social progress and material development.
International Rivers has described the Omo river as ‘the heartbeat’ of the region, and the floods as ‘nourishing’, providing the people living along the river’s banks with their most reliable sources of food. Yet these people live in abject poverty, with many suffering from chronic hunger. To describe their reliance on precarious flood-retreat farming practices as a sustainable, harmonious lifestyle is deranged.
The floods currently wrecking havoc in Ethiopia have been in the central and north-eastern parts of the country rather than in the southern Omo region. Yet this southern area has experienced devastating floods, too. In 2006, 400 people and thousands of livestock were washed away in the Omo delta and according to the United Nations World Food Programme, the floods there regularly inundate crops and have displaced over 20,000 people.
Ethiopia’s rivers will continue ruining lives unless controlled. Sure, dams are not risk-free and, like any large-scale development project, they force some people to move. Such people should of course be duly compensated. Yet instead of campaigning to halt development altogether, NGOs would do better to focus on ensuring that everyone benefits and no one is left behind. The environmentalists protesting against Gibe III do not seem interested in providing any alternative to people who live in abject poverty, or as they would say ‘who have traditional lifestyles’.
No doubt, a major objective for the investors in Gibe III, which, when completed, will be Africa’s second largest hydroelectric dam, is profit. In addition, however, the dam is expected to extend electricity access to large swathes of Ethiopia, a country where, in the year 2010, 70 per cent of the 80million-strong population still can’t even switch a light on in their homes. In addition, the impact of the droughts is expected to be reduced through new water storage capacities and the dam will regulate the flows of the Omo river, containing the impact of its annual floods.
It is not surprising that Ethiopians themselves find the Stop Gibe III Dam campaign patronising, insulting, irresponsible and dangerous. Some Ethiopians have launched a counter-petition called Stop the Campaign Against the Gibe III Dam of Ethiopia. It might not be the catchiest of campaign names, but anyone who believes that there should be more to life than survival would do well to support it.
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