First, the recent focus of energy thinking has been particularly concentrated on the ways and means of reducing carbon emissions and, linked with that, cutting down energy use, rather than taking energy use as essential for conquering poverty and seeing the environmental challenge within a more comprehensive understanding. There would appear to be an insufficient recognition in global discussion of the need for increased power in the poorer countries. In India, for example, about a third of the people do not have any power connection at all. Making it easier to produce energy with better environmental correlates (and greater efficiency of energy use) may be a contribution not just to environmental planning, but also to making it possible for a great many deprived people to lead a fuller and freer life.

Second, there is insufficient recognition of an empirical fact that at first glance may seem rather trivial, but which has much greater importance than may be immediately recognized. Many areas of the world where poverty is common are also particularly sunny and offer hugely underappreciated opportunities for the generation and use of solar power, if the scientific and engineering problems of using this source of energy—including the development of cheaper storage of seasonally variable power—are adequately addressed. The availability of a strong sun, of which Bangladesh and India and much of Africa get a great deal more than does Europe (which is currently the center of environmental activism in the world), makes it possible for many of the poorer areas on the globe to use a gigantic supply of energy, if environmentally sound ways of harnessing, storing, and utilizing solar energy can be developed. This could benefit some countries with fewer known stocks of fossil fuels (such as large parts of sub-Saharan Africa). It could also benefit other countries where some fossil-fuel sources are abundant (such as coal in India), but where the use of these resources has to be restricted because of their impact on climate change.