Phelim McAleer


Latest from Phelim McAleer

The big problem with renewable energy is that it just doesn’t renew itself. The sun does not shine enough and the wind doesn’t blow enough to power the towns, cities, factories, hospitals and schools that make our lives so livable. No environmentalist would ever allow their child to be treated in a hospital fully powered by “renewables”. They would not take the risk that the wind might stop whilst their baby was on the operating table. They would insist that the hospital and the life support systems had a fossil fuel powered back-up.

And so it is with “sustainable development”. It just isn’t sustainable. At least it does not sustain a lifestyle that those who promote it would consider acceptable for themselves. But of course that is the key. Renewable energy and sustainable development are for “other people”. Even though environmentalists come from societies and very often families that became rich because of their use of non-renewable energy and unsustainable development they will not allow these opportunities to be extended to the poor in the developing world.

Environmentalists come from wealthy societies and families who cut down forests and burned coal and oil to make their families and societies healthy and prosperous. But, nowadays, for the poor in Africa and Asia and even middle America their path out of poverty must be “sustainable.” No fossil fuels or factories for them. But what this really means is sustainable poverty. It is a system that condemns people to a lifetime of drudgery and subsistence farming because modernity and industrialisation is “unsustainable.”

Which brings me to Bono, the lead singer of rock band U2 and more lately a campaigner for sustainable development in Africa, Asia and south America.