Population – the elephant in the global warming green room

Robert Henderson

Let me put my cards on the table: I see no hard evidence for man-made global warming, nor do I believe that pollution generally will be the undoing of humanity, although it can obviously have severe effects on particular populations. Readers interested in my reasons for dismissing environmental scares in general and man made global warming in particular may refer to “my  The overheated climate debate “ which was published in the Mother Earth Feb 2007 issue (https://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2010/10/27/the-overheated-climate-debate/).

Notwithstanding the lack of firm evidence, Western political elites, egged on by the religiously devoted greens through their powerful pressure groups, are behaving as though we shall all be going to Hell in a handcart if things do not change and are consequently burdening their societies with environmental laws. These laws, apart from making life unpleasant for the masses because of their impingement on their liberty, are imposing great costs on Western economies which are not shared by the rest of the world. Nor will these laws have any meaningful impact on greenhouse gases in the atmosphere because of the vast and ever growing increase in emissions taking place in the developing world.

This essay is designed to challenge these newly green political elites on their own grounds, to take their claims and test them against their actual policies by asking questions such as is there any possibility that the claimed necessary reductions in greenhouse gases can be achieved? Will the developed world “setting an example” persuade the undeveloped world to cut back on greenhouse gases? Can the industrialisation of the developing world continue without the creation of vastly more greenhouse gases? Is the calculation of greenhouse gases sound? Most importantly ,what are the implications of the world’s present population and projected future growth for the environment?


A monstrous and ever expanding elephant sits in the green crusaders’ room. Amidst all the liberal internationalist angst about greenhouse gases and pollution generally, the greatest and most obvious cause of both is ignored by mainstream politicians: the already great and rapidly rising population of the world.

The world population is estimated to be 6.5 billion now. Extrapolations to 2050 go as high as 9.5 billion. The vast majority living now come from the underdeveloped world and their proportion of the world population will increase in the coming decades because the populations of underdeveloped countries have much younger populations than those of the developed world, viz:

“One of every six people on earth is an adolescent. In the developing world, more than 40 percent of the population is under age 20. The decisions these young people make will shape our world and the prospects of future generations. On this World Population Day, let us recognize their right to the health, information and services they need and deserve.” (http://www.forcedmigration.org/browse/thematic/population.htm)

If the swelling world population was overwhelmingly due to increases in the still very white first world you may be sure that we would be daily berated for our selfish breeding. We would be told that any increase in our population was at the expense of the third world, that every extra mouth to feed, house, clothe and supply with energy was absolutely unconscionable. Western governments would be instigating programmes to reduce our populations and some of the bolder would be advocating rationing of children and any industrial process deemed to be producing the putative greenhouse gases,

But the overwhelming majority of people living today do not live in the first world and the projected future expansion of the world’s population is due almost entirely to third world increases, the first world having at best stabilised their populations and at worst actually set themselves on the path of democratic decline through a mixture of contraception and too readily available abortion (Britain does not have a fertility crisis but an abortion crisis, with 200,000 abortions being carried out a year. If those babies were born Britain’s birth rate would be above replacement level. Such increases in the first world as occur will be due to immigration from the third world and the generally higher breeding rates of immigrants.) Consequently, the subject goes unmentioned by politicians because it is beyond the Pale for Western liberal internationalist elites and not in the interests of the developing world to raise it.

The Western green suicide national advocates

If Western politicians are as yet unwilling to advocate the most extreme measures such as a dramatic reduction of Western populations, there are pressure groups such as the Optimum Population Trust (http://www.optimumpopulation.org/) who will. They think it should be the wicked energy guzzling first world which should show the way on the grounds that each first worlder consumes zillions of times more energy than each third worlder. Their recipe is that the first world effectively commit suicide by reducing its on average below replacement reproductive level even further. Here are a couple of snippets from their website which relate to the UK. The OPT advocate the following policies:

“• (i) to welcome the current below-replacement total fertility rate;

• (ii) to oppose fiscal incentives specifically intended to encourage women to have large families;

• (iii) to reduce further (by contraception and education) the number of teenage pregnancies, which are still among the highest in Europe; “

‘The UK’s sustainable population based on current patterns of resource use is just over 17 million, less than a third of its actual population of 60 million*, according to new research from the Optimum Population Trust….

‘If the whole world lived a “modest” Western European lifestyle based on current energy patterns, it could support only 1.9 billion people. If that “Western European” world then managed to cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 60 per cent, this sustainable population figure would rise to 2.8 billion. However, this would still only represent 40 per cent of the current world population.’  (OPT NEWS RELEASE December 4 2006  http://www.optimumpopulation.org/opt.release04Dec06.htm)

The danger for the West is that our politicians may buy into this dangerous nonsense sufficiently to act to suppress Western breeding rates even further.

Calculating emissions

The questioning reader may have a provoking question niggling away at the back of their mind: how is that the industrialised First World with only 1 billion of population at best, a population which lives in countries which monitor and control their emissions ever more rigorously, is so much more at fault for emissions than the 5.5 billion who live in countries where the vast majority of energy is generated either by the direct burning of fossil fuels in the home or workplace or through power stations, mainly coal fired, which pump pollution into the air with poor filtration and who are responsible for far more agricultural generated greenhouse gas emissions than the First World?

The answer ostensibly lies in the convenience of scientists. Here is the UN Environment Programme website giving the game away:

“ Central to any study of climate change is the development of an emissions inventory that identifies and quantifies a country’s primary anthropogenic sources and sinks of greenhouse gas. Emissions are not usually monitored directly, but are generally estimated using models. Some emissions can be calculated with only limited accuracy. Emissions from energy and industrial processes are the most reliable (using energy consumption statistics and industrial point sources). Some agricultural emissions, such as methane and nitrous oxide carry major uncertainties because they are generated through biological processes that can be quite variable.”  (http://maps.grida.no/go/graphic/national_carbon_dioxide_co2_emissions_per_capita)

Translated that means scientists rely on the sort of statistics which the developed world produces (and the undeveloped world does not ), while ignoring at worst and under-estimating at best emissions which are not readily calculated or available. Take the case of methane and nitrous oxide, the most plentiful greenhouse gases after water vapour and carbon dioxide. Here is what the http://www.physicalgeography.net/website says about methane produced by man made means:

“The primary sources for the additional methane added to the atmosphere (in order of importance) are: rice cultivation; domestic grazing animals; termites; landfills; coal mining; and, oil and gas extraction. Anaerobic conditions associated with rice paddy flooding results in the formation of methane gas. However, an accurate estimate of how much methane is being produced from rice paddies has been difficult to ascertain. More than 60 % of all rice paddies are found in India and China where scientific data concerning emission rates are unavailable. Nevertheless, scientists believe that the contribution of rice paddies is large because this form of crop production has more than doubled since 1950. Grazing animals release methane to the environment as a result of herbaceous digestion. Some researchers believe the addition of methane from this source has more than quadrupled over the last century. Termites also release methane through similar processes. Land-use change in the tropics, due to deforestation, ranching, and farming, may be causing termite numbers to expand. If this assumption is correct, the contribution from these insects may be important. Methane is also released from landfills, coal mines, and gas and oil drilling. Landfills produce methane as organic wastes decompose over time. Coal, oil, and natural gas deposits release methane to the atmosphere when these deposits are excavated or drilled.“ (http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/7a.html)

And here is the journal Nature on methane emissions:

“There is a strong link between human diet and methane emissions from livestock. Nations where beef forms a large part of the diet, for example, tend to have large herds of cattle. As beef consumption rises or falls, the number of livestock will, in general, also rise or fall, as will the related methane emissions. Similarly, the consumption of dairy goods, pork, mutton, and other meats, as well non-food items such as wool and draft labor (by oxen, camels, and horses), also influences the size of herds and methane emissions. The figures below present recent estimates of methane emissions by type of animal and by region. Due to their large numbers, cattle and dairy cows produce the bulk of total emissions. In addition, certain regions – both developing and industrialized – produce significant percentages of the global total. Emissions in South and East Asia are high principally because of large human populations; emissions per-capita are slightly lower than the world average”  (http://www.nature.com/nhttp://www.scidev.net/dossiers/index.cfm?fuseaction=specifictopics&dossier=4&topic=182&CFID=2340763&CFTOKEN=59109502ature/journal/v443/n7110/full/Emissionsofmethanefromlivestock

As for nitrous oxide, here is the physical geography website again:

”The average concentration of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide is now increasing at a rate of 0.2 to 0.3 % per year. Its part in the enhancement of the greenhouse effect is minor relative to the other greenhouse gases already mentioned. However, it does have an important role in the artificial fertilization of ecosystems. In extreme cases, this fertilization can lead to the death of forests, eutrophication of aquatic habitats, and species exclusion. Sources for the increase of nitrous oxide in the atmosphere include: land-use conversion; fossil fuel combustion; biomass burning; and soil fertilization. “Most of the nitrous oxide added to the atmosphere each year comes from deforestation and the conversion of forest, savanna and grassland ecosystems into agricultural fields and rangeland. Both of these processes reduce the amount of nitrogen stored in living vegetation and soil through the decomposition of organic matter. Nitrous oxide is also released into the atmosphere when fossil fuels and biomass are burned. However, the combined contribution to the increase of this gas in the atmosphere is thought to be minor. The use of nitrate and ammonium fertilizers to enhance plant growth is another source of nitrous oxide. How much is released from this process has been difficult to quantify. Estimates suggest that the contribution from this source represents from 50 % to 0.2 % of nitrous oxide added to the atmosphere annually “ (“http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/7a.html).

It is also important to understand that the quantity of the various gases in the atmosphere is not a simple guide to their effectiveness as greenhouse gases. Methane and Nitrous Oxide are thought to be much more effective than Carbon Dioxide at warming the atmosphere, viz:

“Global Warming Potential (GWP). The normal reference is Carbon Dioxide for which the GWP is 1. By comparison the GWP for Methane is 21, Nitrous Oxide 310, most of the FCs are up in the 1000s with Sulphur hexafluoride at the top with a whopping GWP of 23,900.” (http://www.envocare.co.uk/aboutus.htm).

The GWP ratings mean that methane is 21 times more potent than CO2 and Nitrous Oxide 310 times more potent.

Finally, all greenhouse gases have to be put into the contexts of (1) that greenhouse gases form less than 1% of the atmosphere and (2) that water vapour is the most common greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, accounting for the majority of the greenhouse effect.

Interestingly, estimates of how much water vapour contributes vary widely:

“If one pursues the question of how much of the greenhouse effect is due to each of the various greenhouse gases one finds a perplexing variety of answers in the literature. One source says that 95 percent of the greenhouse effect is due to water vapour, another 98 percent. These figures may be referring to the proportion, by weight or volume, of water vapor among the greenhouse gases of the atmosphere. Another source says that proportion water vapor is responsible for is between 36 and 70 percent. Water droplets in clouds account for another 10 to 15 percent so water as liquid or vapor accounts for between 46 and 85 percent of the greenhouse effect. The same source attributes 9 to 26 percent of the greenhouse effect to carbon dioxide (CO2).” ( http://www.applet-magic.com/radiativeff.htm).

If there is such disagreement and uncertainty amongst climate scientists about the extent of water vapour’s influence a gigantic question mark hangs over claims for other gases such as CO2 and Methane. Suppose 90%+ is down to water vapour, about which Man can do little, it is difficult to see that any increases due to Man made gases will be of more than peripheral importance. It is also interesting to note that that estimates of the other gases such as CO2 vary widely.

Imagine man made climate change is occurring

Let us suppose for the sake of argument that global warming is occurring largely or wholly because of man made emissions. Even in those circumstances it would be madness for Britain or any other developed country to load themselves with taxes and other burdens because quite clearly the five sixths of the world’s population which does not live in the First World is going to carry on industrialising without regard to what the First World does. China is on course to become the largest carbon dioxide emitter by 2010 , overtaking the USA. Previous “expert” estimates which said this would not happen until 2020:

“China, one of the fastest growing economies of the world is all set to overtake U.S as the leading air polluter by as early as 2010; a whole decade faster than the previous estimates of 2020.

“The International Energy Agency has concluded this based on extensive data studies, changing climatic conditions in the region etc. On the other hand the United Nations is holding a conference in Nairobi to find solutions to global warming and cutting the emission of greenhouse gases.”  (http://www.themoneytimes.com/articles/20061107/china_set_to_become_biggest_polluter_by_decade_end-id-102060.html).

China will be in this position because she is quite naturally seeking her national advantage by using a resource which she has in abundance – coal – to fuel the energy need of her rapidly expanding economy. Nor does she show any sign of slowing down:

“A blueprint to save the world from the worst effects of climate change, drawn up at UN talks in Bangkok, is under threat from China. Delegates said that Europe was insisting that the world should try to keep the global temperature rise to an average of no more than 2°C or risk “dangerous” consequences.

“But China wanted to retain the right to pump out greenhouse gases that would result in temperatures increasing by more than 2°C.

“ It was objecting to any wording that would mean it should impose a Cap on its emissions, slow its economic growth or spend large amounts on clean technologies in the future.

“China could overtake the United States as the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases by the end of this year, according to the International Energy Agency.” (Daily Telegraph 03/05/2007)

China’s “one-child” policy is also coming apart:

“China’s new rich are sparking a population crisis by disregarding the nation’s one-child rule. Under the controversial policy introduced in 1979, families face fines if they have two or more children. But rising incomes, especially in the affluent eastern and coastal regions, mean that more people can afford to pay to have as many offspring as they like.

“According to a recent survey by China’s National Population and Family Planning Commission, the number of wealthy people and celebrities deciding to have more than one child has increased rapidly, despite fines that can be as high as 200,000 Yuan (£13,000) for each extra child.

“Almost 10 per cent of high earners are now choosing to have three children because large families are associated with wealth, status and happiness in China. “ (Daily Telegraph 08/05/2007).

Of course, vast and rapidly growing as she is, China is simply part of a larger picture of developing world pollution. Take the second largest country on Earth, India. Just as China is happy to build coal- fired power stations with abandon, India is content to engage in a policy of small wood powered stations, a policy which not only introduces CO2 into the atmosphere but results in deforestation which reduces the natural capture of CO2.

India is changing its greenhouse emissions contribution very rapidly:

”Greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, contribute to global warming and climate change. According to the US-based ‘think tank’ the World Resources Institute, India was responsible for over four per cent of total emissions in 2000 — making the country the sixth largest emitter in the world. Emissions are set to rise further still over the next 20 years as the Indian economy rapidly develops. Both the International Energy Agency and the government of the United States’ Energy Information Administration predict over 90 per cent growth in carbon dioxide emissions alone by 2025….

“India’s coal consumption has increased from 110 million tonnes in 1980 to more than 350 million tones in 2000, representing an annual growth rate of almost 6 per cent. Natural gas consumption has grown similarly, at 5.6 per cent a year, to 75 million cubic metres in 2000. But petroleum consumption has grown fastest since the 1980s, at an annual rate of 14 per cent, to over 350 million tonnes in 2000….

”India emitted 16 million tonnes of methane in 1990, and 24 million tonnes in 2000 — a little under 35 per cent of the country’s overall greenhouse gas emissions. [4] The agricultural sector dominates (see Figure 2), contributing about 64 per cent. Within this sector, the largest contributions come from livestock, which produce methane in their digestive tracts, and rice crops, which emit approximately four terragrams of methane per hectare as organic matter decomposes in flooded fields. …

”India’s greenhouse gas emissions are increasing, making up 4.47 per cent of the global total in 2000. This places India in the top ten emitters of the world. The United States leads the way, producing five times more emissions than India, at almost 16 per cent of the world total. China is the largest developing country emitter, accounting for nearly 12 per cent of global emissions “. 31 August 2006 Source: SciDev.Net (http://www.scidev.net/news/index.cfm?fuseaction=printarticle&itemid=3122&language=1).

The hopelessness of the liberal internationalist’s belief that if the “West sets an example” to the developing world is clear to see. Even if the developing world population was stabilised immediately and they restricted their emissions growth to half of the average of the first world at present, that would increase emissions by several times what they are currently. If the first world ceased to emit anything at all, the increase in the rest of the world’s emissions, through development and an expanding population, would still push the emissions level way beyond what we have now and what climate scientists consider safe.

The sane response for the first world is to accept that even if Man is creating global warming, the best that can be done is to guard against its effects by doing what it has always done, namely, use its scientific and technological skills to combat adverse effects. If Dutch engineers could reclaim much of the land which now constitutes the Netherlands in the 17 century it really should not be the wit of 21st century man to do the same.

Green laws are only for “the little people”

Although they are forever berating their populations about global warming, Western political elites subscribe to policies which positively thwart their ostensible aims. They do this for reasons of political ideology, fear of political repercussions if they follow the logic of their ideas and personal selfishness.

Their greatest hypocrisy is to sign up to the free trade, free movement of peoples agenda. The consequence of this is twofold: much energy is expended transporting people and goods around the world and much of the energy use needed for manufacture is exported from the developed world , with its high standards of pollution control, to the developing world, most notably China, where such controls are practically next to non-existent and coal fired power stations are the primary means of producing the necessary energy. The globalisation of business must also have an impact on energy use because of the increased need to transmit data over long distances by electronic means. If Western governments were truly committed to the green agenda they would be advocating much more national self sufficiency.

Then there is the mania for economic growth. All first world governments seek continual growth. None says, hold on, if we want to “save the planet” we should not be seeking ever more growth, ever more expenditure of resources. That alone makes their supposed commitment to “green” solutions to “global warming” a nonsense. If first world economies continue to grow so must their emissions, at least for the foreseeable future, because there is no ready made solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions sufficiently to counter the growth.

Congruent with free trade and growth is the “throwaway society”. We increasingly produce and consume goods which are thrown away because they are not worth repairing because of the cost, because they rapidly become obsolescent or which are b poorly made but so cheap that the owner is content to use them for a short period before purchasing something else. How can that be squared with the idea that greenhouse emissions must be radically reduced not in twenty years or even ten years, but right now? The answer of course is that it cannot be squared.

The general approach of Western governments is not to honestly tackle the problem they perceive to exist but to eat away piecemeal at one or two visible aspects of the putative causes of the problem. For example, “green” taxes are put on 4x4s and congestion charging applied to cities, but such policies have little effect on the overall use of motor vehicles.

Even where something is indubitably not for necessary purposes nothing radical is done. Take the case of leisure air travel. Rhetoric spouts from politicians about carbon offsetting and taxes on aviation fuel but everyone knows nothing much will happen. There is of course a very practical reason for this, the better off are the prime users of air travel. The middle classes are generally the loudest proclaimers of the virtues of green values yet they are also the ones most committed to frequent flying as they go off on multiple foreign holidays a year and regularly visit their foreign second home, but no British Government would dream of overtly actually rationing such flights however much they might talk about it. The most they will do is put on an aviation tax, which of course penalises the poor.

The selfishness of the better off is a general problem for greens, because on average the richer the person the more energy the person will consume. An hilarious example of this came earlier in the year when the “Unjolly Green Giant” Al Gore was exposed as a man whose private residence consumed more than 20 times as much electricity as the average American home in 2006:

“The average household in America consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, according to the Department of Energy. In 2006, Gore devoured nearly 221,000 kWh—more than 20 times the national average.

Last August alone, Gore burned through 22,619 kWh—guzzling more than twice the electricity in one month than an average American family uses in an entire year. As a result of his energy consumption, Gore’s average monthly electric bill topped $1,359.

Since the release of An Inconvenient Truth, Gore’s energy consumption has increased from an average of 16,200 kWh per month in 2005, to 18,400 kWh per month in 2006.

Gore’s extravagant energy use does not stop at his electric bill. Natural gas bills for Gore’s mansion and guest house averaged $1,080 per month last year. “  (http://www.economist.com/debate/freeexchange/2007/02/the_oscar_win_for_al.cfm)

Or take the case of the Prince Charles’ second wife who recently unconscionably embarrassed the religiously green Prince:

“The Duchess of Cornwall has flown out for a cruise, leaving Prince Charles behind and his aides counting the cost of her gigantic carbon footprint.

“ She took a private plane laid on by her holiday host, the billionaire Dr Spiros Latsis, to join girlfriends for her annual jaunt around the Greek islands on the Latsis yacht.” (Daily Telegraph16/05/2007)

The rich and powerful do not think that the green rules apply to them. They are for “the little people” ,as the American millionairess Leona Helmsley memorably said about taxes.

Why are Western political elites so keen on seeming green? The answer lies in the type of personality which is attracted to politics. Politicians are generally people who wish to control the lives of others. In addition, even if they are not formally religious they tend to have the religious temperament, that is, they have an instinctive desire to believe in something and to force that belief on others. The green ideology in general and global warming in particular provide an outlet for those religious impulses.

The combination of the desire to control and the religious impulse fit neatly together, because as every “religious” believer knows, their creed cannot stand up to rational questioning. Consequently, the natural tendency of all believers, religious and secular, is to quash dissent. When they have power they invariably do so. Hence, the abuse and censorship which currently is taking place of those who do not buy into the green religion.

The other things which the green religion does is allow the political elites to constantly interfere in the lives of the masses and to manipulate public debate to keep the general public confused and afraid and thus more malleable. Hence, we have the petty authoritarianism of ever more draconian domestic waste obligations with householders being turned into criminals for not sorting their waste “correctly” and motorists being constantly berated for using their cars and threatened with ever higher motoring costs through policies such as road charging.

The green agenda is also being cynically exploited by stories such as the one below which tap a true and real fear of our age, mass immigration:

“Climate change will take the number of refugees worldwide to a billion by 2050, according to a report. Global warming and its consequences will exacerbate a global crisis In which 155 million people have been displaced by wars, natural disasters and development projects, the study by Christian Aid warns.  (Daily Telegraph 14/05/2007)

The green message is implicit but clear: obey us or you will be swamped with immigrants.

An example of a green propaganda tool  

Generally, Western elites, both politicians and the broader elite, are happy to allow the new green religion to go unchallenged. To illustrate the absurdities which are treated as fact I will examine one prime example of this unquestioning attitude.

“Taking the past year as a whole, it has also been the hottest 12-month period since 1659. Daily telegraph 28/04/2007

The year 1659 appears with remarkable frequency in the media in connection with the English climate, often in the form “since records began in 1659”. It is a statement rarely if every questioned by anyone with access to the mainstream media.

Just pause and think about that claim. Does it seem probable that official weather records have been meticulously kept for three and a half centuries, kept before the scientific and industrial revolutions, kept before the English or British state became a bureaucratic monster? The answer of course is that it is extremely improbable and did not happen. What did happen in the third quarter of the last century is that a British meteorologist by the name of Gordon Manley attempted to produce an historical series for temperature in England which he eventually extended to 1659. His work over a quarter of a century is summarised in two papers published by the Royal Meteorological Society: The mean temperature of central England 1698-1952 (1953) and Central England temperatures – monthly means 1959-1973 (1974) The two papers can be found at http://www.rmets.org/publication/classics/cp1.phpOther academics have built on his work since.

Manley, like a good academic, was scrupulous in admitting the difficulties in constructing such an historical series: “Methods of approximation must be resorted to [when constructing any historical series], most notably in England where, despite our very long scientific tradition, almost all observation before 1841 was dependant on amateur effort so that widely scattered records of diverse length and accuracy provide endless problems… The English records offer a formidable problem”. The opening paragraph of his 1953 paper.

“Formidable problem” is understating matters. Even readings of temperature today using highly sophisticated equipment cause considerable dispute because where the measurement is taken is all important, for example, readings taken in or close to urban areas will produce a higher temperature than ones taken in areas with little or no human habitation. Trying to get a consistent environment to take temperature over a long period of time is obviously difficult and comparisons with the past questionable because we can never know what the conditions were exactly at any point in the past. Hence, even with the advent of official records early in Victoria’s reign it is not simply a question of comparing data from one time with another. For example, has can temperatures in London today be meaningfully compared with those of 150 years ago when there were no motorised vehicles and coal was the main energy source?

Once Manley enters the period before the official records (pre 1841) his caveats become ever more severe, whether it be the paucity of the data, breaks in the data, the widely different means used to collect data, the absence of any information about how data was collected and even the switch between the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in 1752 which means every record prior to the change has to be recalibrated to the Gregorian.

Manley’s research and analysis was honest but the most rational thing to conclude from it is that it proved no meaningful historical temperature series for England could be constructed over the period. Yet his research is trotted out as having the status of certain fact by the mainstream media, politicians and, to their shame, often by scientists when they enter the realm of public debate.


The only sane conclusion to draw from the way the world is developing is that nothing is going to prevent a massive increase in greenhouse gases as the developing world industrialises. That being so, the rational response of Western politicians would be to stop burdening their own countries with expensive green laws and concentrate instead on dealing with the effects of global warming if they materialise. That should not be impossible because any change will be gradual and our technological ability, already very substantial, will increase mightily in the next century or so.

Western elites must shift their mentality from that of liberal internationalism to concern for their own countries and people rather than the third world. Ultimately, it is for every nation to look after its own people and territory. Western politicians should stop kowtowing to their liberal guilt and start pointing out the facts of life to the developing world.

These facts are, that the pollution from the developing world is on schedule to utterly dwarf the pollution of the first world; that the developing world must take responsibility for their population growth; that the developing nations are responsible for the pollution they create and its effects on their own people; that the first world cannot be a milch cow for the rest of the world any longer and should not be expected to pay for any ill-effects of industrialisation created by the developing world.

Most importantly, Western elites need to stop peddling the line that the fact that the first world is industrialised is a justification for the rest of the world to industrialise to the same degree without regard to the consequences. That is akin to arguing that because ten people are on a life raft, the 100 in the water have the right to climb on as well regardless of whether it sinks the life raft.

The existing population disparity between the first world and the rest of the world places the question of development in a different moral context. Nor is this simply a case of industrialisation. The likely population expansion alone creates a great deal more pollution, whether it be greenhouse gases, deforestation, pressure on water resources or mass migration. That is the responsibility of the developing nations. If they cannot or will not restrict their population growth, they must take the consequences. The first world must look to its own interests and safety.

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