Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Let's Get Solar

A study by Orjan Gustafsson from Stockholm University in Sweden, shows that the massive cloud of pollution that hangs over the Indian Ocean and South Asia is the result of the many poor people in India using wood and dung for cooking and heating. They recommend that Indians switch to solar powered stoves or gas in order to reduce pollution and global warming.

As far as I know these recommendations were made with a straight face and not as a result of excessive drinking during the Carnival festivities taking place during the month of February. India has hundreds of millions of poor, and we expect them to switch from dung to solar and gas. Only in Western Europe and North America we find people with this kind of naiveté or suffering from this new malady known as Algoritis.

The remedy for this type of pollution is what seems a contradiction of terms. Namely, helping the poor to elevate their standard of living. The wealthier a population the faster there is a decrease in population growth and room for concern about the environment.

Over fifty years ago the same type of people promised to end hunger and poverty in Africa by sending modern agricultural machinery. Of course, the geniuses at the United Nations and other NGO’s forgot that most of Africa lacked the facilities required for this type of machinery, and after a couple of years the tractors were utilized by African farmers to lean on while resting after plowing the earth with a wooden plow. Had the Africans been provided with steel plows the result would have been more positive, but it would have prevented bureaucrats from wasting millions and bleeding hearts from feeling good about being so charitable.

Now we are pushing for solar stoves in Asia. I can see already the children playing with the broken mirrors while the adults place a statue of Vishnu on top of the broken stove. Go see Slumdog Millionaire and tell me if the slum dwellers should be concerned about the environment. I wouldn’t be.

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