"...the world’s actual #1 problem: Poverty."The solution?
"Providing them with cheap electricity is a compassionate, progressive thing to do."So why hasn't this been done?
But here’s the catch: The rate of growth in electrification has still been slower than population growth. (Access to electricity grew at about 1.2 percent per year between 1990 and 2010, while the global population grew at 1.3 percent per year.)
Although nations are succeeding in bringing power to more people, those efforts have barely kept pace with population growth over the past two decades, said the report, released Tuesday in Vienna. As a result, about 1.2 billion people—nearly as many as the entire population of India—still live without access to electricity, while 2.8 billion people rely on wood, crop waste, dung, and other biomass to cook and heat their homes.So the first problem that is preventing us from providing a solution to energy poverty is population growth (1).
However, there is a fundamental failure to address how such an endeavor is to be financed. We perpetually hear about how climate change solutions will bankrupt our societies, so why should providing this power somehow be more economically feasible?
Doing all of that, the IEA and World Bank note, will cost a fair bit more than the world is currently spending: “The investments required to achieve the three objectives are tentatively estimated to be at least $600–800 billion per year over and above existing levels, entailing a doubling or tripling of financial flows over current levels.”
The world needs to double or triple its current spending—estimated at about $400 billion a year—to meet the United Nations' goal of bringing clean and modern electricity to all people by 2030, says a new report by a wide group of international agencies led by the World Bank.
It also calls on countries, international organizations, private sector investors and civil society to increase energy investments focused on the three objectives by at least $600 billion a year until 2030, more than doubling the current estimated $409 billion.However, this is where the irony sets in regarding the complexity of this problem, since many of the nations facing energy poverty, are in fact the world's leading energy producers. Therefore if the nations producing the energy cannot provide cheap energy to their people, then what is the argument or model by which those that don't produce it will be able to do so?
Some energy-producing countries are failing to deliver fuel or power to their own people. Nigeria, the largest oil-producing country in Africa, is second only to India in the number of people living without electricity: 82.4 million. Another 117.8 million Nigerians rely on wood and biomass for cooking, even though the nation is sitting on the largest known natural gas reserves on the continent. Without infrastructure for gathering or delivering natural gas (which could be used for cooking or generating electricity), much of the natural gas produced in oil fields is flared off. Another energy producer with widespread energy poverty is Indonesia. Though it is the world's largest exporter of coal by weight, and was the eighth largest exporter of natural gas in 2011, Indonesia nonetheless is home to 131.2 million people who rely on wood and biomass cookstoves.In the end, the article is simply wagging it's finger (2) at the "arrogant well-fed societies" while stating something that has been an obvious condition on this planet for decades, for which we are no closer to finding a solution than we have ever been.
In the meantime, the "non-problem" of population growth continues unabated (3).
In fact, electricity has been extended to 1.7 billion more people between 1990 and 2010, and 1.6 billion people gained access to cleaner cooking fuels. But world population grew 1.6 billion over that same period, with high growth in regions with poor energy access—a problem concentrated in about 20 countries in Asia and Africa. The World Bank report said the pace of expansion would have to double to meet the 100 percent energy access target by 2030.Easy platitudes, few solutions.
(1) While there is some variation in the reported numbers, even the most optimistic assessment indicates that population continues to be a major problem in achieving the stated objectives.
Although 1.7 billion people gained access to electricity between 1990 and 2010, this is only slightly ahead of population growth of 1.6 billion over the same period. The pace of expansion will have to double to meet the 100 percent access target by 2030.(2)
But the arrogance and callousness of a well-fed society toward those who are less fortunate always leaves me stunned.
How does being the world's leading producer of energy make a country "less fortunate"? It would be like trying to solve the problem of a farmer supplying the world with food while his family starves.
The only arrogance occurring here is the economic exploitation of such energy producing nations and then piously proposed that we "help" them obtain cheap energy. So, why aren't these nations providing cheap energy to their populace? We already know the answer. There is no profit to be made by providing cheap energy to people that have no money.
While the world is not overpopulated as a whole, overpopulation does cause issues at the regional level. (That is why I like to say the world is not overpopulated, but rather “maldistributed.”) For instance, only so many people can live in the U.S. Southwest before water shortages become a routine problem.While this is an interesting way to spin the problem, the obvious point is that population pressures in other parts of the world aren't so amenable to real estate prices as the southwest in the U.S. is. So to talk about "maldistributed" is to ignore the elephant in the room. People can't move, which is precisely why they are living in poverty.
So unless this proposal is suggesting that countries like the U.S. open their borders to allow for a more equitable distribution of this population, then this is simply an empty platitude.