When is Pro-Life Not Pro-Life? When It’s Pro-Poverty and Anti-Pruitt

66 self-professed "evangelical and Catholic pro-life Christian leaders" urge President-elect Trump to withdrawn Scott Pruitt's name as head of EPA.

By Calvin Beisner Published on December 26, 2016

Today about 1.3 billion people live without electricity. They make up about one-fourth of all people in developing nations — 5 percent in Latin America, 8 percent in the Middle East, 17 percent in Asia, and 57 percent in Africa (a stunning 76 percent in sub-Saharan Africa).

Those people lack light by which to study and work before and after sunset to lift themselves out of poverty. They lack refrigeration to protect foods and medicines from spoilage. They lack electric-powered machinery for farms and factories, telephone and Internet, air conditioning to make living and working in hot climates bearable, and even clean cooking and heating.

All of these lacks contribute to early deaths. The last by itself — lack of clean cooking and heating — costs an estimated 2 to 4 million premature deaths every year, mostly of women and children, from diseases caused by breathing the smoke from wood and dung fires, not to mention hundreds of millions of upper respiratory diseases and eye infections that disable people from work for days, weeks, or months, prolonging their poverty.

These 1.3 billion people desperately need electricity. And the electricity they need is not the tiny amount of intermittent electricity at high cost from renewable wind and solar wealthy Western elites celebrate but rarely use, but the almost unimaginably vast amount of steady, reliable, inexpensive electricity that comes only through grids powered by nuclear fuel, hydropower, and, especially, the fossil fuels that provide over 85 percent of the world’s energy.

That is, if they are to rise and stay out of poverty, these 1.3 billion people need precisely what Western climate alarmists enjoy every minute of every day but want to deprive them of. And because they need it but lack it, they’re sick and hungry more often and die younger.

Coming Against Scott Pruitt

So it’s ironic that 66 self-professed “evangelical and Catholic pro-life Christian leaders” issued a letter to President-elect Donald Trump urging him to withdraw his nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to be the next Administrator of the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Far from a pro-life letter, the anti-Pruitt letter is really pro-poverty and, therefore, pro-death.

Their reason? “Mr. Pruitt’s past actions,” they claim, “suggest he would not defend the vulnerable from pollution.”

Yet Pruitt has sued oil and gas producers in his state for failure to meet anti-pollution regulations. He knows that real pollutants (carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen and sulfur, fly ash, and heavy metals) come from burning fossil fuels.

But Pruitt also knows that the vast majority of those real toxins are already taken out, leaving emission levels so low they impose no significant risk. And he knows what’s left coming from the “smokestacks” of modern fossil fuel-fired electric generating plants is water vapor and carbon dioxide, neither toxic at concentrations ten times current levels.

He has also explicitly recognized the need for federal action to deal with polluters in one state who endanger people in another, saying, “It’s not good for us to say that the EPA doesn’t have any role. Because just think about it, you have a power plant in Arkansas that’s burning coal irresponsibly or inconsistent with the statute, and it comes over to Oklahoma and Texas. So there is a role for the EPA …”

The Real Reason They Oppose Pruitt

The “pro-life” leaders’ message doesn’t actually mention it, but the real reason they oppose Pruitt is that he

Though not explicit, the fingerprint of climate alarmism is clear in the “pro-life” leaders’ letter. It originated with the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), which has a long history of pushing climate alarmism and opposition to fossil fuels as “pro-life” — and has been rebuked by pro-life leaders twice for obscuring the meaning of “pro-life.”

The anti-Pruitt letter’s first two signers are EEN President and CEO Mitchell Hescox and Executive Vice-President Jim Ball, both long-time campaigners for climate alarmism. In 2006 EEN launched the “Evangelical Climate Initiative,” signed initially — like the current letter — by religious leaders most of whom lacked any expertise in climate and energy science or energy, environmental, or developmental economics. That, too, aroused criticism from scientists and economists with the appropriate expertise, joined by theologians and other religious leaders.

The current letter’s initial 66 signers included 8 scientists (5 biologists, 1 geologist, 1 engineer, 1 physicist), 2 economists, 1 mathematician, and 55 pastors, theology and Bible professors, and other religious leaders. None was a climate scientist, though 9 were leaders of religious eco-activist organizations and might have developed some lay expertise on climate change.

The letter is surprising partly because pro-life evangelical Pruitt’s nomination is a supported by 49 evangelical leaders, including the “current and 12 past Southern Baptist Convention presidents, 14 current and former agency heads and executive directors of 17 SBC-affiliated Baptist state conventions,” whose letter called Pruitt “well qualified to lead the Environmental Protection Agency” and said “he deserves the full support of the United States Senate in his confirmation.”

The saddest thing about EEN’s letter is that it is driven by support for climate alarmism contradicted by the best empirical science and for climate and energy policy the implementation of which would slow, stop, or reverse the conquest of poverty and the disease and premature death it causes.

Far from a pro-life letter, the anti-Pruitt letter is really pro-poverty and, therefore, pro-death.

E. Calvin Beisner, Ph.D., is Founder and National Spokesman of The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.

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