Monckton says inexpensive electricity is the best tool for reducing birth rates, since people have fewer children when incomes rise and education improves.
“There is a moral imperative to burn as much coal as necessary to lift the world’s poor out of poverty,” says Monckton, now joint deputy leader of the U.K. Independence Party, which wants the U.K. to leave the European Union. “If you don’t, the population is going to explode.”
James Hansen, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, says Monckton’s argument is fallacious because coal boosts death rates, too. “This is the stupidest statement I have ever seen,” Hansen says.
Coal and wood burning contribute to 656,000 premature deaths a year in China, the World Health Organization says.
“Scrubbing sulfur from power-plant emissions just means pollution is deposited in landfills,” says Joe Lovett, founder of the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment in Lewisburg, West Virginia.