The second key aspect of the global warming issue is a moral one. Today, 1.6 billion people do not have access to electricity in their homes. Some 2.5 billion people use wood, dung, or other biomass to meet their cooking energy needs. According to the World Health Organization, about 1.3 million people per year, most of them women and children, die because of the pollution caused by indoor biomass stoves. Only HIV/AIDS, malnutrition, and lack of clean drinking water and sanitation are greater health threats than the problems of polluted indoor air.
As Fatih Birol, the chief economist for the International Energy Agency, has declared: "Decisive policy action is needed urgently to accelerate energy development in poor countries as part of the broader process of human development. We cannot simply sit back and wait for the world's poorest regions to become sufficiently rich to afford modern energy services. ... Access to energy is a prerequisite to human development."
Quite right! What was that about Jevons Paradox again? Oh yeah,
In addition to reducing the amount needed for a given output, improved efficiency lowers the cost of using a resource – which increases demand. Overall resource use increases or decreases depending on which effect predominates.
Heavens, developing nations are saved! By increasing our efficiency, energy costs will become cheaper for poorer countries, allowing for a rise in living standards. Maybe global warming is all an elaborate hoax to spur development. Furthermore, to clarify Bryce's position, he notes that:
Increasing energy consumption equals higher living standards. Always. Everywhere. Given that fact, how can we expect the people of the world--all 6.6 billion of them--to use less energy? The short answer: we can't.
The first word that jumps into my head for some reason is "Denmark". They've lowered energy consumption for 30 years and still experience higher living standards. Go figure. The significant difference here that I think is important between Denmark and, say, the United States, is that they actually tried, whereas we apparently think the effort would be just plain crazy.
So there you go. Even if you think global warming is all a hoax spread by the nuclear industry, many industrial policies meant to curb carbon emissions still sound like a good idea.