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Africans Question Practical Alternative to Fossil Fuel

By Edward Ring

“So when you say stop to your fossil fuel, what’s the alternative? “
— Fortune Charumbira, president of the Pan-African Parliament, November 2022

This is a question without an answer. But for nearly three weeks in November, over 35,000 people including heads of state and the global corps d’elite, pretended they were solving what they claim is the most urgent crisis in the world—the climate emergency—while ignoring the only relevant question. What is a practical alternative to fossil fuel?

Also ignored at the latest U.N. Climate Change Conference, an event sponsored by some of the world’s biggest corporations and covered, uncritically, by the biggest media conglomerates on earth, was the primary reason for environmental challenges in the 21st century. It’s not fossil fuel. It’s population trends.

How patterns of population growth and population decline among the nations of the world intersect with the necessary trends in per capita energy use to eliminate global poverty is by far the most relevant variable affecting the future of humanity and the planet. But nothing in the program of COP27 explicitly focused on either of these genuinely existential challenges.

The imbalance in population demographics between wealthy nations, in which the native populations are failing to reproduce, and poor nations, which continue to explode in population, is easily apparent. The decline in birthrates in wealthy nations is well documented, even if it is rarely discussed. But what is almost never discussed, because it invites accusations of racism, is the unchecked population growth in nations that still have not managed to emerge from poverty.

Global Population Trends: Feast and Famine

According to the most recent World Bank data, the population of “low-income” nations has quintupled since 1960, whereas “high-income” nations have seen their populations over the same 61 years increase by only 60 percent. China’s population has more than doubled, and India’s population has tripled, while the population of the United States is up by 80 percent. But the most rapid population growth is in the Middle East and Africa.

These are nations that are the least equipped to handle massive population growth. The Middle Eastern nations have money but no water, the African nations have water but no money. In many cases, such as in Pakistan or any Sahelian nation in Africa, they don’t have nearly enough of either. But that isn’t stopping them from reproducing. In fact, thanks mostly to Western foreign aid, heavy on food and medicine, their populations continue to explode.

For example, Pakistan’s population has increased from 44 million in 1960 to 225 million today. Nigeria’s populationhas grown from 45 million people in 1960 to 211 million today. Sudan’s population is more than six times greater than it was in 1960, up to 45 million from only 7 million. Uganda’s population is up more than seven times, from 6 million in 1960 to 47 million today. And there is no end in sight.

In terms of current rates of population increase, the populations of Niger, Somalia, South Sudan, Angola, Uganda, Burundi, Chad, Gambia, Tanzania, Mali, Zambia, and Equatorial Guinea are all over three percent per year. At that rate, the populations of these nations will double in just 20 years. These are staggering numbers. Today, in Niger, the average woman of childbearing age has seven children. In Somalia, the Congo, Mali, and Chad, the average is six, and in Angola, Burundi, Nigeria, Gambia, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Benin, Mozambique, Uganda, the Central African Republic, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Senegal, South Sudan, and Zambia, the average is five children per woman. Today.

On the list from the World Bank of the most fertile nations as measured by births per woman of current childbearing age, the first 25 nations are all in Africa. At number 26 is the Solomon Islands at 4.3 children per woman. Of the top 50 nations in terms of current fertility, 39 of them are in Africa. The only nations of any size occupying the top 50, outside of African nations, are Afghanistan (28), Yemen (45), and Iraq (46). And for that matter, the only large African nations that are not in the top 50 are just outside that distinction; Zimbabwe at 52, Kenya at 53, Namibia at 55, and Egypt at 56. These nations all have female fertility still around 3.5 per woman. The only outliers are South Africa (85), Libya (98), and Tunisia (103).

The practical impact of these demographic facts is stupefying. Global population has just reached 8 billion. By 2050 it is expected to reach 9.7 billion. Africa, all by itself, is projected to account for 1.2 billion of that 1.7 billion increase. Every one of these African nations is riven with conflict or potential conflict. Some of them, such as Somalia, or any nation in the Sahel region, would be grievously challenged to support their existing population with the resources currently available in their nations, even if they were politically stable.

Read the rest at American Greatness, here.

Edward Ring is a senior fellow of the Center for American Greatness. He is also is a contributing editor and senior fellow with the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president. Ring is the author of Fixing California: Abundance, Pragmatism, Optimism (2021) and The Abundance Choice: Our Fight for More Water in California (2022).

Originally published by American Greatness. Republished with permission.

To read more on policies promoted at COP27, click here, here, and here.

IT'S BACK: The Heartland Institute's Next CAN'T MISS Climate Conference spot_img
Edward Ring
Edward Ring
Edward Ring is a senior fellow of the Center for American Greatness. He is also is a contributing editor and senior fellow with the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president. Ring is the author of Fixing California: Abundance, Pragmatism, Optimism (2021) and The Abundance Choice: Our Fight for More Water in California (2022).


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