Thursday, February 22, 2007 By Steven Milloy
“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel,” said famed 18th century British lexicographer Samuel Johnson. To update the quote for our current era you might substitute “children” for “patriotism” and “climate alarmist” for “scoundrel.”
Last week, outgoing United Nations World Food Program chief James Morris reminded us that 18,000 children die every day from hunger and malnutrition. Morris called the situation “a terrible indictment of the world in 2007.”
In contrast to our quixotic fixation with trying to fine-tune global climate by tweaking atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, the ongoing tragedy of starving children would seem to be a relatively easy problem to solve. After all, wealthy developed nations have plenty of surplus food and the wherewithal to deliver it to the world’s malnourished.
While the long-term solution for the starving children, of course, is the sort of economic development and political reform that would enable poverty stricken regions to develop self-sustaining economies, the short-term solution requires immediate direct aid from developed nations. And so it would seem that if the developed world’s opinion leaders and policymakers truly cared about “the children” as much as they publicly claim, food aid would already be flying to the world’s starving.
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But it’s not. The only things flying around, in fact, are ubiquitous professions of alleged concern for children.
In offering a $25 million reward to anyone who can develop a method for eliminating one billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, Virgin CEO Richard Branson said, “I want a future for my children and my children’s children.”
But if children are so important to Branson, why not offer the $25 million reward for getting food to those that need it now?
Nobel Peace Prize-nominee Al Gore told a New York University audience last September that, “Our children have a right to hold us to a higher standard when their future… is hanging in the balance.”
But the future for 18,000 hungry children extends about 24 hours. What’s our planetary hero doing about that?
Former United Nations’ chief Kofi Annan recently opined in the Washington Post that, “Every day that we do nothing, or too little, to prevent climate change imposes higher costs on our children.”
It’s too bad that Annan’s concern for children didn’t come a little earlier in his 10-year stint as UN head during which time approximately 66 million children (based on Morris’ figures) died from hunger and malnutrition.
NASA’s climate alarmist-in-chief told the Ventura County Star (Feb. 8) that, “The U.S. must [tackle global warming because]… we have a moral burden for our children and grandchildren.”
Unless the “our” in Hansen’s quote refers only to American children, it would seem that “our” moral burden lies elsewhere given hunger’s daily death toll.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in June 2006 that “Our future, our children and our prosperity demand bold action [on climate].” Illinois Gov. Ron Blagojevich said earlier this month that, “…we can help minimize the effects of climate change and ensure our children and grandchildren inherit a healthy world full of opportunity.”
If state politicians are going to worry about global issues, perhaps they ought to extend their concerns to the world’s neediest children.
In an August 2006 meeting with big-city mayors, former President Bill Clinton said, “… it doesn’t make sense for us to sit back and wait for others to act. The fate of the planet that our children and grandchildren will inherit is in our hands, and it is our responsibility to do something about this crisis.”
He’s right except that the “crisis” is starvation, not hypothetical climate change possibly associated with essential economic activity.
The 2008 presidential candiates are also exploiting “the children.”
After the most recent UN report on global warming was issued earlier this month, Sen. Hillary Clinton said on her web site, “Do we act or do we accept the risk of handing a degraded planet to our children, our grandchildren, and their grandchildren?... It is time
for us to act. I will be pressing for action in the Senate this year.”
Barack Obama says on his web site that, “…in the end, it will not be us who deal with [global warming’s] most devastating effects. It will be our children, and our grandchildren.”
The media also claims concern for “the children.”
In a recent column extolling former President Gerald Ford’s goal to reduce imported oil and criticizing President Bush for not doing the same, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote, “Had we achieved everything Ford proposed, the price of oil today would be $20 a barrel, not $60, the polar ice caps might not be melting, the polar bear might still have a chance, and our children would have a future.”
I wonder if Friedman has any idea that there are thousands of children for whom there is no tomorrow, let alone a “future.” I also wonder if he’ll ever learn about the malnutrition tragedy since the New York Times (like most other media) didn’t see fit to report Morris’ comments.
Even accepting for the sake of argument the dubious claim that global warming may lead to 160,000 “extra” deaths per year at some future point, that claim pales in comparison to the ongoing 18,000-actual-dead-children-per-day figure.
Moreover, the economy-killing nature of greenhouse gas regulation likely would prevent poverty-stricken regions from developing – the long-term solution to stopping hunger’s horrific death toll.
Uttering vague concern for “the children” may make for good global warming sound bites. But such hot air does little to help the world’s real children who are slated to die largely preventable deaths.
Steven Milloy publishesJunkScience.comandCSRWatch.com. He is a junk science expert, and advocate of free enterprise and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
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