The environmental movement stands to lose many supporters if it works against people's economic prosperity, said energy security expert Gal Luft on July 11.
Luft, executive director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, warned attendees of the fourth "Integrity in Science" conference in Washington, D.C. that as economic prosperity declines, apathy about climate change issues increases.
"They [poor people] could not give a damn about climate change because they want 24 hours a day light," said Luft. He cited the example of people living in slums outside Bangalore, India. (Audio is available )
"In India alone, 600 million people are not connected even to the [power] grid," said Luft. "When you talk to these people all you ahve to do is drive 10 minutes from the center of Bangalore to the slums there and ask them about climate change. And they'll tell you: 'We want electricity, we want it today, we want it cheap, we don't care how you make it.'"
Luft also called OPEC an "oil cartel" conducting the "biggest regressive tax" on the poor because it will not increase output. However, he did not say that increased domestic output would solve the problem.
Instead, Luft advocated a government mandate for flex-fuel automobiles which he said would "break the monopoly of oil in the transportation sector."
The July 11 conference was hosted by Center for Science in the Public Interest, a left-wing group most known for attacking restaurants and foods for being unhealthy. Co-sponsors included a Who's Who of liberal groups and publications including Mother Jones, the Union of Concerned Scientists, EarthJustice and the Center for Progressive Reform just to name a few.