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BBC Claims Poor Countries Are Worse Off Because Of Fossil Fuels

May 12, 2019
tags: ,

By Paul Homewood


h/t Willie Soon


Today’s dose of drivel from the BBC is about wicked western countries making third world nations poorer because of climate change:


Temperatures may be rising globally, but not all of us feel the impact in the same way.

Over the past half century, climate change has increased inequality between countries, dragging down growth in the poorest nations whilst likely boosting prosperity in some of the richest, a new study says.

The gap between the world’s poorest and richest countries is about 25% larger today than it would have been without global warming, according to Stanford University researchers in California.

African countries in tropical latitudes have been the hardest hit, with the GDP per capita of Mauritania and Niger more than 40% lower than they would have been without the rising temperatures.

The gap between the world’s poorest and richest countries is about 25% larger today than it would have been without global warming 

India – which the IMF says will become the world’s fifth largest economy this year – had a GDP per capita 31% lower in 2010 because of global warming, says the study. The figure for Brazil – the world’s ninth largest economy – is 25%.

On the other hand, according to the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, global warming has likely contributed to the GDP per capita of several rich nations, including some of the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases.

Warming penalty

Co-author Professor Marshall Burke, from the Department of Earth System Science at Stanford University, spent several years analysing the relationship between temperature and economic fluctuations in 165 countries between 1961 and 2010.

The study used more than 20 climate models to determine how much each country has warmed due to climate change attributable to humans. Then it calculated 20,000 versions of what their annual growth rate would be without temperature increase.

Burke demonstrated that growth accelerated in cool countries in years which were warmer than average, while in hot nations it slowed down.

"The historical data clearly show that crops are more productive, people are healthier and we are more productive at work when temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold," he said.

He argues that cold countries have reaped "warming benefits" from rising mercury, while hot countries have been given a "warming penalty" by being pushed further away from their optimum temperature.

There is evidence that labour productivity declines at high temperatures, that cognitive performance declines at high temperatures, interpersonal conflict increases at high temperatures.

"There are a number of pathways by which the building blocks of aggregate economic activity are influenced by temperature," says lead researcher Noah Diffenbaugh. 

"For example, agriculture. Cold countries have a very limited growing season because of the winter. On the other hand we have substantial evidence that crop yields declined sharply at high temperatures," Diffenbaugh says.

"Likewise, there is evidence that labour productivity declines at high temperatures, that cognitive performance declines at high temperatures, interpersonal conflict increases at high temperatures."

For richer and poorer?

The researchers say while there is some uncertainty regarding the benefits reaped by colder, richer countries, the impact on warmer countries over history has been unequivocal.

In fact, if they were to consider global warming since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, they say the observed effects would be larger.

"The findings of this study are consistent with what has been known for years, that climate change acts as a threat multiplier, and takes existing vulnerabilities  and makes them worse," says Happy Khambule, senior political advisor at Greenpeace Africa.

"This means that the poorest and most vulnerable are on the frontlines of climate change, and developing countries have to deal with the increasingly extreme climate impacts at the expense of their own development."


If only the west had not started the industrial revolution, just think how much better off the rest of the world would have been by now!

So where is the actual evidence for this Marxist drivel? It won’t come as a surprise to learn that there is none at all. It is all derived from GIGO computer models, programmed to say that climate change has made poor countries poorer.


But what do the real facts tell us?

Let’s look at the case of India, which figures prominently in the report. The graphs below are all from Wikipedia:


GDP started to rise sharply in the 1980s, both in total and per capita terms:



The share of agriculture is a quarter of what it was in 1950. This does not mean that the value of agriculture has fallen, simply that the rest of the economy has grown much faster.

In short, India is no longer the sort of predominantly subsistence economy it used to be:



As for food, this is what the UN has to say:




In short, India is much better off and its people far better fed than could ever have been imagined just a few short decades ago.

None of this has happened in isolation, and it certainly has not not happened despite global warming.

India’s new found prosperity is inextricably linked to the growth of the world economy, only made possible by the availability of cheap, abundant energy.

  1. David Parker permalink
    May 12, 2019 10:39 am

    That hypothesis is as likely to hold water as a sieve with the bottom knocked out.

  2. Rob Harding permalink
    May 12, 2019 10:47 am

    How do we counter such preposterous garbage from the BBC. How about Australia which I understand is quite warm sometimes.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      May 13, 2019 8:15 am

      The US and China, which have huge variation in temperatures but little correlation in regional growth with temperature.

  3. jack broughton permalink
    May 12, 2019 11:22 am

    I hope that Nicola Sturgeon does not see the graph showing India’s growth after independence!

  4. May 12, 2019 11:28 am

    The BBC will publish any garbage that is on message with UN Agenda 22.

    • Rowland P permalink
      May 12, 2019 7:16 pm

      Move on. It’s Agenda 2030 for sustainable development!

  5. dave permalink
    May 12, 2019 12:13 pm

    “…Temperatures may be rising globally…”

    Or maybe not :

    • May 12, 2019 2:33 pm

      It’s a pernicious and wicked lie. The use of energy, or lack thereof, practically defines wealth and poverty. If you have seen all the old women carrying charcoal into the city in Kisangani you would not dare to write such distortions.

  6. Chris Matchette-Downes permalink
    May 12, 2019 12:13 pm

    East African countries collect and burn the few remaining trees to cook – Tanzania in recent years produces natural gas (Songo Songo and other coastal finds) so can alleviate some of the stress on the biomass by supplying bottled gas for day to day cooking needs.

    Kenya now has oil production from the Lockichar basin so can raise Kenyan’s living standards

    Mozambique is sitting on trillions of cubic feet of natural gas and once on production will have the necessary income to lift itself out of poverty and mitigate against lowland flooding issues

    Oil and gas continues to escape Malagasy where pretty much all the primary vegetation has now gone to support farming and fuel needs – hence the name the red island – the lateritic soil is exposed and washed into the sea.

    The BBC wont report anything like that instead works by feeding misinformation into the public arena to scare and traumatise people, for what purpose? I can only assume a political motive and as such perhaps their license to broadcast should be revoked.


  7. Pancho Plail permalink
    May 12, 2019 12:26 pm

    Yet again there is confusion between weather and climate. The study appears to be looking at the impact of maximum temperatures on national performance over a given year and also appears to be looking at the impact on agriculture primarily. In the case of India it seems abundantly clear that its prosperity seems to be accompanied by a shift from an agricultural economy to an industrial one.
    Well, what a surprise. I don’t see anyone claiming that the industrial revolution in UK was sparked by climate change.
    And finally, poverty is defined as a percentage of people earning below median income. If the income of anyone above the median improves their income but the poor don’t, then the median figure rises and by definition more people will be pulled into “poverty” without any change whatsoever in their personal circumstances.

    • bobn permalink
      May 12, 2019 1:24 pm

      Yes, The lefts definition of poverty is ludicrous. If everyone in Britain added £1million to their income tomorrow then by their ignorant definition we would still have about 20% of the UK popn in poverty as the the goalposts will move forever as the average moves. To set a definition around a moving average is ignorant and irrational – but such is modern society.

      • Phoenix44 permalink
        May 13, 2019 8:18 am

        And if all the rich people left the UK, poverty would decline!

        It is a measure of income equality, not poverty.

  8. May 12, 2019 12:49 pm

    At the top of the page –

    “This website is produced by BBC Global News Ltd, a commercial company owned by the BBC (and just the BBC). No money from the licence fee was used to create this website. The money we make from it is re-invested to help fund the BBC’s international journalism.”

    If one looks at the accounts it seems that the company has been losing tens of £millions so how is it being kept afloat?

    • Pancho Plail permalink
      May 12, 2019 1:11 pm

      The accounts for the last financial year show post-tax profits at £11M but net assets at
      -£86M. I don’t think you will be able to draw clear conclusions from the published figures as you would have to factor in its relationship with BBC Global News Holdings Ltd which essentially has the same board.

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      May 12, 2019 2:08 pm

      bisto52 — not only is that “link” distorting this whole page, it’s “expired”!

  9. Mike Jackson permalink
    May 12, 2019 2:04 pm

    And the “cheap abundant energy” you mention, Paul, is the one thing that western organisations are refusing to permit.

    The World Bank refuses to authorise loans to develop coal-fired power stations in various parts of Africa, the very technology that has created the wealth difference the report complains of and would go the best part of the way to close the gap.

    I keep hearing the (alleged) words of Michael Oppenheimer: “We can’t let other countries have the same number of cars, the amount of industrialization, we have in the US. We have to stop these Third World countries right where they are.”

    Up ladder, guys. I’m aboard!

    • JerryC permalink
      May 13, 2019 6:12 pm

      Interestingly, though, the same gang insists that mass Third World-First World immigration is the best thing ever, despite the fact that an immigrant moving from, say, Cameroon to France is going to increase his carbon footprint by an order of magnitude or more.

  10. May 12, 2019 2:14 pm

    Calling this only a “dose of drivel” is being exceedingly kind.

  11. Peter Yarnall permalink
    May 12, 2019 2:27 pm

    I think this finally shows that the Global Warming/Climate Change hoax is a plot by anarchists and Marxists to undermine democracy and destroy capitalism

  12. R2Dtoo permalink
    May 12, 2019 2:41 pm

    One can only imagine the assumptions they had to make to run their programs. First, they assume that temperature is the determinant of the level of wealth. Since the gap between rich and poor is increasing, they must have assumed that some temperature is the “perfect divide” that determines wealth/poverty. My guess would be the temperature of the globe at the magical 350ppm CO2. They also had to assume that man is responsible for all determined “climate change” in order to ascribe guilt to the wealthy nations that are driving CO2, both in the past and now. In this way they obviate any discussion of the role of natural climate change, in spite of all that is known historically. This is a specious paper designed solely to support the redistribution of wealth by ascribing blame to successful capitalist nations for the failure of all nations in the developing world. There is no mention of the political/social/cultural differences among nations. Since the rich/poor divide also increased under Obama, it would logically follow that climate change differentially impacted American citizens as well. This is nothing more than supportive propaganda for Agenda 21/30. The fact that they used the defective global climate models as the base of data to assess the economic impacts of climate change shows a total lack of honesty vis-a-vis the current debate. So settled science begets more settled pseudoscience. Since climate change still is based solely on temperature change, and temperature change is based solely on CO2, they have the simplest explanation for all that ails the earth. Should we enter a cooling phase for climate, I assume the gap between rich and poor would diminish accordingly. Absurd.

  13. malcolm bell permalink
    May 12, 2019 3:17 pm

    As a descendant of the nineteenth Quakers who were key leaders in the Industrial Revolution ( and still am) I
    am immensely proud of what they did. I spent my career trying to run factories. We increased standards of living and were the parents, with several other none conformists. The world in total is a better place. Except …

    … because we were so successful and our kind of ethical capitalism and liberal egalitarianism worked so well populations have exploded. If we had held our numbers down to say 1.5 billion just think what a fabulous world we would now have.

    It is with population growth plus American lead unethical capitalism, that we are now causing the big problem.


    • Stonyground permalink
      May 12, 2019 6:15 pm

      Sorry, what big problem? If you are talking about population, it has the potential to be a problem but it isn’t at present. Wealthy societies limit their population quite effectively, making poor countries wealthy would prevent this potential problem from becoming one.

    • mothcatcher permalink
      May 12, 2019 10:26 pm

      Hi, Malcolm. You might think it axiomatic that population growth is a drag on the creation of wealth, especially for the poor, but the evidence of the last two hundred years points to precisely the opposite. Counter-intuitive, perhaps, but true nonetheless. History says so quite clearly.

      Julian Simon’s ‘The Ultimate Resource’ is in many ways as fundamental as Adam Smith’s ‘The Wealth of Nations’ and is certainly worth a read. Heavy going, but very enlightening. Simon has been dead a couple of decades now but his words are today as relevant as ever.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      May 13, 2019 8:12 am

      If the global population was 1.5 billion we would be much, much poorer. No China and India say, so all the stuff they make and do we use would either not be made and done, making us much poorer, or we would have to make it and do it ourselves meaning we couldn’t have as many teachers or scientists or bankers or car workers. So we would be much poorer.

  14. malcolm bell permalink
    May 12, 2019 3:22 pm

    Oops, sorry, my first paragraph should say “.. we were, with other none conformists, the parents of the modern world …

  15. MrGrimNasty permalink
    May 12, 2019 3:37 pm

    The Berkeley Earth data for Mauritania and Niger make interesting reading.

    View the long ‘temperature stations’ on the right hand side.

    The vast majority show no significant trend for 100 years in the raw data.

    But the latter years show an explosion of Quality Control failures.

    Then miraculously the adjusted data shows rapid warming in recent years.

  16. Curious George permalink
    May 12, 2019 3:58 pm

    They should have found a picture of a man riding a wooden bike.

  17. markl permalink
    May 12, 2019 4:26 pm

    Income inequality and wealth redistribution are Marxist hot buttons to push their narrative. CC is just another vehicle for that narrative.

  18. Harry Passfield permalink
    May 12, 2019 4:37 pm

    The BBC is v happy to define the future of an entire continent of 62 countries based on shonky science, but, at the same time, is more than willing to predict the future of the world based on the emmissions of one country, the UK!

    It really is time that Africa was not treated as a country.

  19. sean2829 permalink
    May 12, 2019 4:42 pm

    How much pain and suffering is inflicted by having the World bank refuse to fund reliable, affordable electric generation by fossil fuels?

  20. John F. Hultquist permalink
    May 12, 2019 5:03 pm

    Stanford University is the source of this study.
    That is the home of Paul R. Ehrlich of Population Bomb fame.

    • I_am_not_a_robot permalink
      May 12, 2019 10:43 pm

      Stanford is also the home of the Hoover Institution, a rare island of sanity in the academic madhouse.

  21. Coeur de Lion permalink
    May 12, 2019 6:25 pm

    I have activated the Complaints process with the BBC (again) and found their response infuriating. The subject of course is the recent TV documentary “Climate – Change The Facts” Here is my response to the Executive Complaints Unit (the next step up)

    I was enraged by your reply to my complaint. Patronising and mildly insulting boilerplate.
    “As climate change is accepted as happening, the BBC no longer seeks to ‘balance’ the debate by interviewing those who do not agree with this position”.
    I guess Deborah Dawson knows nothing about the climate arguments and cannot be blamed for this patronising casuistry. Nobody ‘denies’ there is ‘climate change; why, we are emerging from the Little Ice Age at about 1.3 degrees a century (UAH/RSS satellite dataset since 1979) and we are excavating Viking farmers from Greenland permafrost (why ‘Green’). They weren’t buried in it during the warmer-than-today Medieval Warming Period. This is all part of the scandalous Harrabin Conspiracy of September 2006. I’m sure you’ve read Andrew Montford “The Propaganda Bureau”, I see you spent thousands of pounds of my licence fee on six lawyers and two barristers to defeat a legitimate FOI request. (you know what FOI is?) The resultant bias is covered in extenso in the 162 page Major Complaint dated 22 April 2016 which I’m sure you have read. Devastating . Besides bias, there is in Chapter 11 much about your response to Complaints. “ ..brushed off with a mixture of ignorance, superficial sophistry and disdain”. Nothing seems to have changed. Chapter eight presages this programme by describing David Attenborough’s many scientific inaccuracies pre-2016. Science is not his strength.

    You will have realised by now from responses by the GWPF and the Notalotofpeopleknowthat website (et al) how much in error was the programme. It is this that is the debate. How much human influence? Is it harmful? Tell Deborah.
    “Based on peer reviewed scientific research “. I doubt it! “Pal Review” more likely. You haven’t read the Wegman Report after ‘Climategate’ I suppose?
    Could I have the name of the ‘independent Scientific Consultant from University College, London’. Doesn’t sound very qualified. Why didn’t you get a couple of serious people from, for example, the GWPF Academic Advisory Council? Freeman Dyson? John Constable? Ross McKitrick? They’re world class.
    “a wide range of scientists from the UK and US”. You’ve sullied them by parading Michael Mann of Pennsylvania U. How COULD you have done that? Is your memory so short? Have you read Mark Steyn’s “A Disgrace to the Profession” in which 100 world-class scientists across the belief spectrum deliver their verdicts of contempt for Mann. A bully, one who engineered the dismissal of non-compliant journal editors, tried to eliminate the MWP and LIA, indulged in gross ad hominem attacks, whose work on the ‘hockey stick’ has irretrievably damaged 20th C science, claimed to be a Nobel prize-winner. He’s currently engaged in trying to prove that there’s ‘extreme weather events’ around today, and failing, because there aren’t any. You should read up the shocking Climategate scandal – Andrew Montford again “The Hockey Stick Illusion”. The last chapter is enough.
    Next time try and believe that complainers are not complete idiots and try to overcome your fobbing off tendency. Oh, and try and do a little fact checking before you pass alarmist press releases to air though your frictionless cloaca. Two lamentable cases today (Flooding and bizarre icecap reconstructions by your pet clown. Prof Wadhams. Btw there’s more Arctic ice now than in 1935. Sad)
    With very best wishes

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      May 12, 2019 7:17 pm

      Great rant! Loved it. But BBC = WPB. well done anyway.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      May 12, 2019 7:30 pm

      Josey Wales put it more succinctly. “Don’t piss down my back and tell me it’s raining.”

      The BBC’s a lost cause, even the Mail is completely sold out to CC/traffic pollution, minimum of one article a day, often multiple. Malaria etc. again. Ticks/Lyme again…….

    • May 12, 2019 10:23 pm

      CdL, in case you are not aware, the Beeb is sending out identical letters to complainants. Discussed here –

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        May 13, 2019 10:09 am

        That letter is an insult to the intelligence.

  22. Stephen Lord permalink
    May 12, 2019 6:36 pm

    The poor countries are poor because of bad government policies. Specifically countries following Marxist and socialist policies do worse as do other totalitarian countries with kleptocratic elites.

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      May 12, 2019 9:58 pm

      That’s why we are exhorted endlessly to change to socialist policies. Make the elites richer.

    • gallopingcamel permalink
      May 13, 2019 6:17 am

      Here in the USA we have presidential candidates pushing Socialism even though they can’t cite a single success. They refuse to discuss why Cuba, Venezuela and North Korea are failed states.

  23. May 12, 2019 10:26 pm

    On the subject of BBC climate drivel, did anyone hear Dimbleby on radio 4 any questions yesterday? He claimed that China’s emissions per capita were much lower than ours. This is of course false – China’s emissions per head are now greater than ours, easily confirmed by a one-minute Google.

  24. I_am_not_a_robot permalink
    May 12, 2019 10:29 pm

    ‘… He argues that cold countries have reaped “warming benefits” from rising mercury, while hot countries have been given a “warming penalty” by being pushed further away from their optimum temperature …’.
    By assuming a country’s ‘optimum temperature’ in his models the author has smuggled into the premise the conclusion he wants to deduce i.e. he has committed the rudimentary logical fallacy of Begging the Question.

  25. Rasa permalink
    May 13, 2019 12:25 am

    There seems to be an extraordinary amount of weirdness coming out of Stanford University…….

  26. gallopingcamel permalink
    May 13, 2019 6:11 am

    The BBC is an “Enemy of the People”. It is pitiful that they can’t understand the immorality of punishing the poor by increasing fuel costs.

    Now they are against democracy:

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      May 13, 2019 10:15 am

      Don’t worry, it will have been a spectacular backfire, despite what the BBC and ‘liberals’ probably think. They don’t understand the truth or human nature.The BBC echo chamber elite are so convinced of their own intellectual and moral authority/superiority that they constantly underestimate the intelligence of the great unwashed and fail to gauge public mood.

  27. Phoenix44 permalink
    May 13, 2019 8:05 am

    What total and utter nonsense. Poor African countries are poor because since independence most followed socialist economic policies. In 1950, South Korea was poorer than Malawi. One was reasonably free market for the next sixty years, one was reasreasonably socialist. One got rich, one didn’t.

    Brazil and India are exactly the same. For decades they followed the sort of policies the BBC loves and for decades they grew slowly.

    As for the models, the temperature variation caused by Climate Change in any given year must be miniscule for almost all the period studied, so all we have here is the cumulative effect over a very long period in the models that are the worst. And because GDP growth is cumulative, small changes a long time ago can appear to have big effects now.

    Simplistic claims about small changes in annual GDP linked to temperature some of the time. Just so obviously political and so obviously completely dependent on methodology that it is clearly nonsense.

  28. May 13, 2019 9:33 am

    The study used more than 20 climate models to determine how much each country has warmed due to climate change attributable to humans.

    Well, there’s your problem. Fiction all the way down.

  29. Gamecock permalink
    May 13, 2019 12:40 pm

    When I hear claims like these, I instantly think of Malé, Maldives. If you are not familiar with it, please find it on Google Earth. Population density: >50,000 square mile.

    ‘Worse Off Because Of Fossil Fuels’

    Without fossil fuels, they’d be dead.

  30. May 13, 2019 11:40 pm

    These kinds of arguments expose the real activism underneath the climate fears.
    They don’t like fossil fuels

    some historical notes on the evolution of fear based climate change activism

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