There was some good news from the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) conference completed in early September in Johannesburg, neglected news that barely appeared in U.S. mainstream media. To the chagrin of liberal, TV talking-heads, greens, and the usual rabble that made a few feeble attempts to disrupt the two-week disgrace, it was U.S. representatives (under Secretary of State Paula Dobriansky) and some dirt-poor street people who demonstrated to convey messages that they want trade, industry and opportunity instead of financial aid, enviro-repression and failure by dependence on their own corrupt governments. There are reasons to be cheered by these events with thanks to America and its industry.
Some facts establish context. Honest scholars remind us that globalization has enhanced human well-being, while opponents say it exacerbates income inequality. At least 2.8-billion people today live on less than $2 per day with 800 million malnourished, 1.1 B lack access to safe drinking water and 2.4 B lack adequate sanitation. Famine and death, two of the four Horsemen of the Apocolypse, bring fear and misery to over half the worlds' people. They face hunger, disease, child labor and high mortality, and are doomed to exclusion from the cycle of progress due to poor education. Wealth provides the means to improve and ultimately eliminate these conditions. Wealth provides the means to bring technological advances that grow to affordability, bringing enhanced well-being to world populations, especially as has happened over the past 50 years. None of these benefits were brought to mankind due to efforts of romantic environmentalists who have no ability to justify feel-good salvations, such as mandating that 15% of world energy use must be derived from (expensive and inefficient) "renewable sources" and have provided little for the rich or poor of humanity.
There were about 12,000 anti-globalist, "environmental activists" at the WSSD and they got much, but little of the embarrassing kind, of media attention for comments such as by the Earth Island Institute of San Francisco representative who opined that "There is a lot of quality to be had in poverty." It is laughably pathetic that people (about 60,000) attended WSSD to express such views, while within a mile from where they pontificated, human beings awaited a Horseman. There is a direct correlation between an improved environment and prosperity; the richest nations are the cleanest and the poorest are the dirtiest. Thirteen of the 15 most polluted cities in the world are in undeveloped Asian nations. Studies show that pollution rises in poor countries until the per-capita income grows to about $5000 and then rapidly declines with increased income.
The U.S. Agency for International Development found that U.S. citizens, industry, immigrants' cash remittances and non-profits contributed $34 B annually in aid to hold the horsemen at bay in the underdeveloped world, three times what the U.S. government spends, much of that through official channels going to corrupt ends. American aid is without parallel in the world because there is no comparable private giving from other nations. Industrialization, and later the massive technological surge led by American industry, stimulated economic development that has shrunk global poverty more in the past 50 years than in combined human history. Industrial economies are driven by energy use (in the U.S. it is 2% of GDP) and restrictions cripple development, especially in poor economies. The ability to establish an energy-using, industrial base is what the workers of the underdeveloped world understand, to bring jobs and prosperity and to deter the grinding poverty they want to escape. They want what American industry has provided-$450 billion worth of annual purchases from them every year, eight times the amount developing countries received in aid from all sources. "Activists" do not want to grasp this because it violates their emotional (and usually erroneous) convictions.
Several sins scream to the world from this WSSD conference. First, the media is really selling a social philosophy of dependence, and too many people have bought this concept that breeds poverty. Second, those who promote ideas of energy use curtailment doom the world's poor. But some good news can be garnered from the conference: a large but unheard number of voices at this meeting balked at formulas imposed by activists and politicians that relegate them to poverty. Plus, America and its industry have done more to drive away the Horsemen and kindle a promise for a better future in the developing world was acknowledged. Good show, America!