There Is Intellectual Dishonesty In Dr. Lomborg’s Letter To Pope Francis

Las t week, the USA Daily, published a letter which Dr. Bjorn Lomborg wrote to Pope Francis. Lomborg wrote to Pope Francis ahead of the environment Seminar which Pope Francis was going to head.Dr Lomborg, outlined what the rich nations should do to protect the environment and help the poor people from harsh effects of environmental degradation.Dr Lomborg is the author of Skeptical Enviromentalist,Cool it, and very many other literatures on environmental governance.

Among solutions suggested by Lomborg, the most dominant are; the poor nations to avoid fossil oil mining, the poor nations to embrace education, to practice family planning, embrace un controlled international trade and appreciate homosexuality as a basic right. He also stressed for green energy technologies and the blue economy which is about coral reefs protection.

Dr. Lomborg is the key person at the Copenhagen consensus. His ideas are respected. But there are view areas he was wrong in his letter to the pope Francis. Firstly Dr. Lomborg has not closely worked with the poor people. His knowledge of poverty is from books and the mass media. If anything, he is partially versed with urban poverty but not rural poverty. Like the rural poverty in present day Africa. It is out of this intellectual lacuna of Lomborg arguments that I will use the case of Africa to show how Dr. Lomborg’s solutions to world poverty are deficient in technical charm.

If the poor countries of Africa will continue to struggle for development through market economy, then development will come through the middle class reproducing themselves, middle class giving birth to the middle class. The peasants of Africa are not going to become developed. But it is possible for them to wear out through economic attrition. They will leave behind the middle class; this will be the twilight of development in Africa.

The observed middle class and improvement in life conditions in Africa is only to be attributed to cheap technology from China and India. Africa has recently benefited from these two countries by buying cheap motor bicycles, cell-phones, motor vehicles, mobile money transfer, generic medicinal drugs, and networked computer system. Another benefit from China has been affordable architectural and civil engineering services like those evinced in Kenya at the Thika superhighway .But during the first fifty years of the last century, when Africa used to solely depend on the western powers there was severe poverty and very hard living conditions. Thus it is affordable technology that will make Africa to wriggle out of poverty. This point was not captured by Dr.Lomborg.

On mining of fossil oil, Dr Lomborg was wrong or if not intellectually dishonest. I don’t see any environmental or economic reason why African countries should not mine the fossil oil discovered. The number of countries in Africa that have discovered oil has increased. Kenya and Uganda being some of the countries.oil consumption in these countries is minimum compared to the Western economies which have huge capacity for oil consumption. Thus, poor countries should mine and sell oil products to the developed countries. This will facilitate flow of cash resource to the poor countries and well as create jobs for the people in the poor countries.enviromental degradation that come with oil mining can be forestalled through environment friendly mining technologies. So let African countries mine and sell oil resources.

Dr Lomborg’s idea of family planning as a social strategy and development path-way out of poverty for African countries is an economic jejune. Under-population is one of the conditions that have held Africa in poverty. I live in Turkana county of Kenya. This is the poorest place on earth. It is in this County that people don’t have guarantee to food throughout a year. This condition exists alongside vast land that can be farmed through irrigation. The observation is that Turkana County is 11000 miles sguared.It has a population of 20,000 thousand people.Thus; every person here is entitled to around 600 acres of land. But due to underpopulation, the people are threatened by nature; wild animals, poisonous snakes, scorpions, elephants and bludgeoning desert shrubs. What I mean is that there is need for more people before development can start in Turkana County and other areas in Africa like Congo, Southern Sudan, Botswana, Namibia and a whole of North African regions. Thus it is not yet time for family planning in Africa. What is needed is good government policy on how to productively employ available human resources.

Dr Lomborg stresses for free trade between poor countries the developed nations. This idea has to be treated with wary. Trade must be controlled; Africa must stop exporting raw materials to sell finished or manufactured goods. And also not everything must be imported into Africa. Tooth picks, hair combs, furniture, clothes, milk, meat, honey – I mean all those items that are locally available need not to be imported into Africa. Let Africa import what it does not have locally. But good luck almost everything is in Africa apart from technology. Thus Africa and western nations must have a technology transfer relationships. But not the convention economic relation in which we see Africa always buying from the western factories. African countries must be integrated into economic blocks to support and protect their local markets. The way European Union protects the European market. Lomborg should not dispute this.

On gay rights as a basic civic obligation, I have mixed reactions. First I respect the right of gays and lesbians. Because homosexuality is not a choice it is nature. There are more than 1500 types of animals that display homosexual behaviour apart from man. Lions, cockroaches, monkeys bonobos being some of them. Thus, gay literature, gay research and gay legislations must be promoted .However gayism should not be imposed on poor societies by the Western powers as a way of depopulation.

Alexander Khamala Opicho

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Articles by Alexander Opicho