Alex Epstein, an energy expert, may have written the most effective defense of fossil fuels you ever read. His book is Fossil Future: Why Global Human Flourishing Requires More Oil, Coal, and Natural Gas—Not Less (Portfolio 2022, 480 pages). In it, he makes the case for flourishing humanity as opposed to blindly “protecting” the non-human environment.
Bill McKibbon, one of America’s more fanatical global warmists, would have you believe that everything wrong in the non-human environment is caused by man. In his 2006 book, The End of Nature, he argues that the non-human environment is more important than humans flourishing.
Epstein turns this misanthropic idea around by saying everything right with the non-human environment is due to man. The correct moral value starts with human flourishing, not with nature. Humans are center stage, not the 200-pound wolves reintroduced to Yellowstone and nearby ranches or the “pristine” environment the Plains Indians “enjoyed” during what was a violent and short life span in a hostile environment. Epstein reminds us that our modern comforts are inextricably tied to fossil fuels, which, along with the free market, have created tremendous wealth for billions and eradicated poverty for billions more.
The inhuman game plan of the McKibbon crowd is to deny billions of people access to fossil fuels, which will also deny them the level of comfort that the developed world currently enjoys. They also plan to reduce the wealth of the developed countries.
An integral part of the plan to impoverish the world is to reduce world population because the McKibbon crowd ignorantly claims that the world’s carrying capacity is strictly limited. However, that “world population limit” idea, first advanced in Paul Ehrlich’s Population Bomb, has fizzled. Never you mind, though, about the factual failure of Ehrlich’s idea. If he’s given enough awards, the idea will live as the proper narrative, if not the reality. I often wonder if there has ever been a student in one of Ehrlich’s classes who has challenged him about the absolute failure of his thinking and predictions.
Epstein’s book, by challenging these stale, dangerous ideas, should be a mind-blowing exercise for millions — or at least for the millions who have never really thought carefully about the climate change theory. Epstein has applied jujitsu to the climate change mantras.
What do renewables provide as an alternative to fossil fuels? Not nearly enough to justify the hype. Not enough to sustain and foster economic development.
What are the charges against fossil fuels? Rising temperatures that do what? The advocates for doing away with fossil fuels have an obligation — that they’ve failed to meet — to explain and prove the science behind their claims and what the actual, as opposed to theoretical, damage is within a reasonable range.
Do fossil fuels have any benefits? By arguing that they don’t, the climate change side exposes its blatant bias. There are obvious benefits for fossils, just as there are obvious costs on the renewable side.
How do these benefits and costs balance out? There has never really been a full and open debate in an objective forum.
Relying on voluminous facts, Epstein argues that an unbiased examination of the benefits and costs does not remotely justify the all-out drive to eliminate fossil fuels. The only way to have such an examination is for everyone to honestly put his cards on the table and engage in a discussion about what is most important.
In the end, from a moral perspective, man is most important — and man will take care of the environment just fine with the aid of fossil fuels for the foreseeable future.
Christopher Garbacz is a former professor of economics with expertise in energy economics and regulation. Contact: [email protected].