Vermont, with a population of just 625,000, consumes 16 million barrels of oil a year while Uganda, with 43 million people, uses less than 12 million barrels. The Infant Mortality Rate in Vermont is only 4 but in Uganda 56 babies out of 1,000 die within the first year of life. Massachusetts, a state with a population of 7 million, uses 450 billion cubic feet of natural gas each year and last winter had to buy gas from Russia, despite most of the state’s policymakers railing against fossil fuels. The Infant Mortality Rate in Massachusetts is less than 4.
Compare these data to the Philippines, where the Infant Mortality Rate is 15 and the population of 105 million consumes only 110 billion cubic feet of gas. Minnesota, a state with a population of less than 6 million, uses 116 million barrels of oil per year – 2.5 times as much as Myanmar with 56 million people. In Minnesota, the percentage of underweight children is 4% while in Myanmar an alarming 41% under age 5 are classified as “stunted” in the World Bank Nutrition Study.
Across the world, the pattern is clear: energy is the lifeblood of modern society and the key to a longer, better life. Based on the International Energy Agency’s latest data, over 81% of the world’s energy is provided by fossil fuels and in 2040 their contribution will be still be 74%. Fossil fuels are here to stay and the only hope of reducing the debilitating energy poverty that haunts the world and claims thousands of lives each day.
In the relatively small number of countries with adequate energy, people eat better, drink cleaner water, are healthier, are more educated, make more money, and thus live longer. In the many countries without enough energy, vast swaths of people live bleak lives that are painful and short. And the greatest victims of this energy poverty are always children – the most vulnerable segment of any society. Not surprisingly, the majority of these impoverished children are girls. More than 130 million girls do not attend school. If these girls were a country, they would be the 10th largest nation in the world.
In spite of these prevailing energy related injustices, virtually all leading Democratic candidates for President want to institute policies to outright ban or drastically reduce export of abundant U.S. oil and gas supplies to these impoverished nations and thereby condemn their children to more of the same – a seemingly unending cycle of energy poverty, illiteracy, illness and premature death.