Epstein: "Fossil fuel energy has not taken a naturally safe climate and made it unnaturally dangerous; it’s taken our naturally dangerous climate and made it unnaturally safe."
"The International Disaster Database, a nonpartisan organization that tracks deaths from climate-related causes—such as extreme heat, floods, storms, and drought—shows that such deaths have been plummeting as CO2 emissions have been rising. How is this possible? Because of the fossil fuel energy that emitted the CO2, which has empowered us to climate-proof our environment with heating, air-conditioning, sturdy buildings, mass irrigation, and weather warning systems. Fossil fuel energy has not taken a naturally safe climate and made it unnaturally dangerous; it’s taken our naturally dangerous climate and made it unnaturally safe. Fossil fuels are not an existential threat. They are an existential resource because they increase something much more important than the level of CO2 in the atmosphere: the level of human empowerment. Increased life expectancy, income, health, leisure time, and education are all tightly linked to increased access to fossil fuels.
As Africa faces a population boom unmatched anywhere in the world, millions of people are moving to fast-growing cities while decades-old public facilities crumble under the pressure. Sewage is a scourge for residents of this community on the outskirts of Uganda’s capital, Kampala. There are no public toilets for some 1,200 people. Mud tinged with feces washes into homes during heavy rains. The sanitation crisis echoes that of cities across the developing world. Some 2.5 billion people, most of them in Africa or Asia, lack access to an adequate toilet, United Nations figures show. Governments are increasingly depending on private businesses and philanthropic groups to help manage human waste in cities that were never planned to handle so many people. One of the fastest-growing cities in the world, Kampala is home to at least 1.5 million people but authorities say over 3 million pass through daily, usually for work. Yet there are fewer than 800 pay toilets and only 14 free ones, many of them dilapidated with walls often smeared with feces.