By Paul Homewood

I want to return to Jeremy Williams’ book, “Climate Change is Racist”:

You will recall it makes the claim:

When we talk about racism, we often mean personal prejudice or institutional biases. Climate change doesn’t work that way. It is structurally racist, disproportionately caused by majority White people in majority White countries, with the damage unleashed overwhelmingly on people of colour. The climate crisis reflects and reinforces racial injustices.

It conjures up images of Africans desperately struggling to survive the effects of climate change.

Leaving aside the fact that there is no evidence of such damage, it is simply not possible to disentangle fossil fuels, climate change and economic and social well being. As a direct result of the Industrial Revolution and subsequent economic growth, the developing world is immeasurably better off in any category you can think of.

The charts below show just how lives have been transformed for the better in Africa, in terms of:

  • Life Expectancy
  • Child Mortality
  • Air pollution
  • Undernourishment
  • Famine
  • Agricultural Output
  • Extreme Poverty
  • Access to Clean Water
  • Literacy
  • Education
  • Value of Agricultural Production

All the charts are from the World in Data, except the last, which is from the UN, and it illustrates how Africa has switched from being a largely subsistence farming economy, to one where cash crops are important. This is of huge significance, because it means farmers now have surplus cash to spend on other needs.

None of these improvements would have been possible without economic growth in the developed world, which in turn would not have been possible without fossil fuels.

Instead of shouting racism, maybe Jeremy Williams should be celebrating this fact.


June 18, 2021