Eco-Imperialism: The greatest threat to Africa’s future

January 21, 2004

by Paul K. Driessen
Congress of Racial Equality Press Release

“What about the people?” asks Fifi Kobusingye, a designer and businesswoman in Kampala, Uganda. “The mosquitoes are everywhere. You think you’re safe, and you’re not. Europeans and Americans can afford to deceive themselves about malaria and pesticides. But we can’t.” “If we don’t use DDT,” adds David Nabarro, director of Roll Back Malaria, “the results will be measured in loss of life,” and our countries will never be able to escape from poverty.

“If they don’t have electricity, people will cut down our trees,” senior Kampala government official Gordon Mwesigye says bluntly. Africa will lose its wildlife habitats, health and economic benefits will continue to elude it, and contaminated air and water will continue to kill millions every year. Wind and solar power will never provide enough electricity for a modern Africa. Only fossil fuel, hydroelectric and nuclear power plants can do that.

“Foreign aid is like life support for corrupt politicians who keep their people poor,” argues James Shikwati, president of the Inter Region Economic Network (IREN) in Nairobi. “We need free and open trade, and access to modern technology.”

“Biotechnology could replace crops that are being devastated by disease and drought. It could help feed people, and prevent blindness and deaths, by ensuring that people get enough Vitamin A and other nutrients,” IREN’s June Arunga points out.

“There are 6.6 billion people on the planet today,” says Dr. Norman Borlaug, biotech proponent and father of the Green Revolution. “With organic farming we could only feed 4 billion of them. Which 2 billion would volunteer to die?”

Corrupt, kleptocratic governments remain a critical problem for many African nations. They must be replaced by honest administrations that serve the needs of all their citizens. However, even if this occurs, a strong, prosperous Africa will never arise, until it has:

    • DDT to kill the mosquitoes that infect 250,000,000 Africans every year, and kill 2,000,000;
    • ample, reliable, affordable electricity for homes, hospitals, schools and factories;
    • trade to generate opportunity and prosperity; and
    • biotechnology to end malnutrition and give Africa a better chance to compete with rich nations that subsidize their farmers with hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

It should be easy. After all, Europe and America used the same technologies to solve the same problems decades ago. But today radical eco-imperialists stand in Africa’s way. They talk about “saving the planet” from all sorts of theoretical catastrophes, citing concerns that they can afford to have, because they no longer have to worry about the diseases, malnutrition and near absence of electricity that still plague Africa.

They promote “sustainable” development and agriculture, “appropriate” energy technology like solar panels on huts, and other “solutions” that have no basis in science, economics or Africa’s situation. They can afford to talk about this, too, because they live in comparative splendor, while millions of Africans continue to live in squalor.

Worst of all, they present their anti-humanity agenda in vague, lofty terms like corporate social responsibility and environmental ethics. These terms appeal strongly to politicians, journalists, foundations, government agencies and even clergy that fund and support the US$8-billion-a-year eco-activist industry. But the effects are lethal for Africans – and the agendas are hardly responsible, moral or compassionate.

“I appreciate ethical concerns,” says Kenyan plant scientist Florence Wambugu, “but anything that doesn’t help feed our children is unethical.” The only things the Green agenda sustains, says Tuskegee University plant genetics professor CS Prakash, are “poverty, malnutrition and early death.”

Africa’s life-or-death problems must not be shackled any longer to vague and emotional claims about the needs of future generations of wealthy Americans and Europeans. Leon Louw, director of South Africa’s Free Market Foundation, puts it very directly: “Telling destitute people in my country, and in countries with even greater destitution, that they must never aspire to living standards much better than they have now – because it wouldn’t be ‘sustainable’ – is just one example of the hypocrisy we have had thrust in our faces, in an era when we can and should grow fast enough to become fully developed in a single generation. We’re fed up with it.”

Eco-activists who’ve never known malnutrition, malaria or the other threats that afflict Africa have no right to impose their fears, priorities and prejudices on its poor people. Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore is right. The environmental movement he helped found “has lost its objectivity, morality and humanity.”

The same can be said for the foundations and corporations that support the movement – and for Amnesty International and other “human rights” groups that are so concerned about politically correct “victims” that they seem to have no time to think about the millions who suffer at the hands of the eco-imperialists.

If Africans and their many friends around the world would speak out more forcefully and often about these facts, they would make it much more difficult for any of these ethically-challenged organizations to continue in their silent complicity (or even active collaboration) in the poverty, misery and death of so many people in less developed countries.

(Editor’s note. This article originally appeared in Green & Gold, the monthly newsletter of the Green and Gold Forum, in Pretoria, South Africa.)