Pope Francis just met with leaders from ExxonMobil and other major oil and gas companies to lecture them about their impact on the poor:
“’The effects of climate change are not evenly distributed. It is the poor who suffer most from the ravages of global warming, with increasing disruption in the agricultural sector, water insecurity, and exposure to severe weather events,’ he said.”
The truth is that the fossil fuel industry has done more to alleviate poverty than almost any other industry–and the Pope’s call to reduce our use of fossil fuels would, as I have written in Forbes, hurt the poor most of all:
“Since 1980, the world has increased its use of coal, oil, and natural gas by over 80 percent—because that is the most cost-effective way to produce energy. At the same time, the average life expectancy of our world’s 7 billion individuals has gone up 7 years—7 years of precious life! Every other metric of human well-being has also improved, from income to access to health care to nourishment to clean water access. The most growth has been among the poorest people in the world. Shouldn’t this be profoundly morally inspiring to the Pope?
“The standard reason to claim that fossil fuels are ruinous, despite their incredible benefits to humanity, is that they cause intolerable ‘climate change.’ But decades of predictions that increasing atmospheric CO2 from .03 percent to .04 percent would cause runaway warming were met by the reality that CO2 causes mild, manageable, and arguably desirable warming—and certainly a desirable increase in plant growth. Most of all, just as abundant energy helps us improve every other area of life, it also helps us make ourselves safe from any climate change, natural or man-made.
“According to the international disaster database, climate-related deaths are down 98 percent over the past 80 years. In 2013, there were 21,122 such deaths worldwide compared to a high of 3.7 million in 1931, when world population was less than a third of its current size.”
You can read the entire column here.