A nod in the direction of Michael Tobis, who alerted me to the fact that James “Jems” Delingpole has been attempting to think his way out of the development box again :-
James Delingpole recognises that Boris Johnson has decided to latch onto an easy picking :-
“…Lots of nice, sensible people will have agreed with him, I’m sure. It’s an easy political point to make: like being against chewing gum stuck on pavements or uncleaned up dog poo or boisterous, drunken youths in town centres or battery chickens or bear baiting. Of course we’d all like the world to be less populous…”
After all, those in the world who are busy reproducing are the poor, and it’s easy to promote the idea that they should show more responsibility in fecundity. Because they are over there, and we are over here. And telling other people what to do is always easier than changing ourselves.
Some people even go so far as to base their “overpopulation in developing countries” argument on the notion that all the poor people with their multitudes of poor children are deforesting the tropics for fuel wood – how terrible !
But really, the populous poor have a much smaller impact on the environment than the minority rich. And I’m talking general environmental terms, not just Climate Change.
But if you want to talk Global Warming, it’s the non-multiplying rich people who are causing the significant problem with their unrelenting Greenhouse Gas emissions. For example, the United States with only 400 million people, produces over 25% of global Greenhouse Gas emissions.
Rather than raising the incomes of the poor, having the rich people get a bit poorer would do a great deal more of good in environmental protection terms as they would emit less :-
James Delingpole struggles to find more than one dimension in his rebuttal of Boris Johnson, however :-
“…Perhaps you believe in Eugenics, as was popular in the run up to (and during) the War. Or in sterilisation campaigns. Or contraceptive drives. Perhaps you believe in extremely repressive campaigns to keep Africans out of the bush. I don’t. I believe the human species is a blessing, not a curse. I believe we should stop patronising people in the third world and trying to decide how many babies they have. I believe that as GDP per capita increases, so people decide to have fewer children and that therefore the solution to Africa’s problems is for everyone to be made richer, faster through the institution of property rights, free trade and incentives for local people to benefit from the safari industry and keep those reserves in the pristine state Boris desires.”
The trouble with the idea of increased incomes is that there is much more than cash in the development equation – although most economists like to boil it down to the “earning X dollars a day” formula.
1. Money can’t buy you infrastructure public goods.
Even if you were to inflate the money supply for higher incomes in countries in, for example, sub-Saharan Africa, people would still not be able to have a better quality of life if there were not also investments in public roadways, public transportation, health facilities, production facilities, energy plant and grids, basic sanitation and water supplies, good housing and good schools.
2. Money can’t buy you debt relief.
It’s more than time to cancel odious international debt – with no strings.
3. Money can’t buy you fair trade rules for basic commodities.
The classic example is coffee – bought on the stock exchanges around the world as the lowest price imaginable – and the producers have no say in the prices.
4. Money can’t buy you market access for your goods.
The United States of America and Europe still support over-production in their agriculture by the use of farming subsidies – products that end up flooding the developing world markets, undercutting local production, and also in the aid and emergency feeding programmes.
5. Money can’t buy you an end to corruption.
Look who installed that dictator !
6. Money can’t buy you an end to arms dealing.
Look who installed that dictator !
7. Money can’t buy you a cure for changes in the growing season, rainfall, excessive drought and flooding being brought about by the impacts of Global Warming.
8. Money can’t buy you protection from increased disease brought about by rising global temperatures.
9. Money can’t buy you employment opportunities.
James, do you honestly think that tourism is a valid export ? Will it give everyone a better standard of living in the “safari destination” countries ?
More to the point, James, do you think that tourism is a sustainable enterprise, given that Climate Change could seriously harm landscapes and wild animal populations ?
It’s true that, generally speaking, as the world educates, feeds and medically treats its populations, that people decide to have less children – partly because women become empowered through education to have more control over their own lives.
But Africa is a continent that has been grossly exploited by the minority rich for hundreds of years – and undoing that kind of impoverishment is not going to be a matter of raising local peoples’ incomes