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Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels

Alex Epstein’s “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels”

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“I hold human life as the standard of value . . . I think that our fossil fuel use so far has been a moral choice because it has enabled billions of people to live longer and more fulfilling lives.” — Alex Epstein, “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels,” 2014
Fossil fuels, we have been repeatedly warned for decades, are dirty, environmentally destructive and harmful to human life. Indeed, that thesis is now such an unchallenged assumption in our culture that to contest it is to invite disbelief and derision.
Yet, in the real world, it is the exact opposite which is true—as a new book, Alex Epstein’s magnificently researched “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels,” makes perfectly clear.
This book, a wealth of ideas and information, qualifies as the most profoundly penned work in the energy field since Petr Beckmann made hash out of the hysterical claims of the so-called “environmentalists” and “soft technology” advocates in “The Health Hazards of Not Going Nuclear” back in 1977.
Here’s a small taste of what you’ll find, as Mr. Epstein proves, not just blindly asserts, that:
► By every human standard of value you care to name—increased life expectancy, decreased infant mortality, dropping climate-related deaths, rising per-capita income or better crops, water sources and sanitation—the use of fossil fuels has greatly improved the lives of millions of human beings.
► That fossil fuels are able to provide these incredible benefits by virtue of the fact that—now and for the foreseeable future—they are the only energy sources capable of providing cheap, reliable and consistent energy when and where it is needed.
► That, far from “running out,” coal, oil and natural gas resources on planet Earth are more than adequate to drive not only our current energy usage, but a greatly increased usage as well, for hundreds—thousands—of years to come.
► That so-called “renewable” energy sources, such as wind and 
solar power
, not only fail the acid tests of dependability and scalability but also involve high levels of hidden costs in their production cycles, making them inherently unfit for providing the cheap, reliable energy an industrial human civilization requires.
► That, to the extent that any other form of energy production besides fossil fuels has any capability of sustaining those industrial requirements on the largest of scales, that virtue falls to nuclear power, not wind or solar—as demonstrated by the percentages of production those three technologies can actually provide.
► That the actual, not made-up, hazards of fossil fuels—and every form of energy production involves hazards to one degree or another—have, historically, best been handled by more technology and more innovation, not by “throwing out the baby with the bath water” and thereby losing the benefits those fuels offer us.
► That the often-contended ecological and climatological catastrophes we’re constantly being threatened with (always “five years from now”) are completely devoid of scientific proof and totally lacking in predictive truth.
That’s an awful lot of information to pack into a mere 248 pages, but—as an extremely interested layman who has studied this field for fun for decades—I can categorically state that Mr. Epstein pulls it off.
And yet . . . In the real world, we have “experts” galore who deny these facts, blather aboutimpending doom and state, with straight faces, that fossil fuels are going to destroy us all.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The “environmentalists” seek to occupy a high moral plane, but—through their efforts to restrict and even ban fossil fuels—are actually condemning millions of people to increased disease, shorter lives, less income per capita and the horrifyingly unnecessary deaths of their children. And that’s championed as a moral value? By what standard?
And that, in my opinion, is Mr. Epstein’s greatest accomplishment, reflected by the use of the word “moral” in the book’s title: That he doesn’t just wipe out all the bogus arguments against fossil fuel usage, but challenges the “non-impact” standard of value the alleged “environmentalists” employ as well. It is a critical challenge that has been far too lacking in our cultural debates and its importance cannot be over-emphasized. After all, in a state of “pristine nature,” man’s average life expectancy is about 30 years.
Mr. Epstein’s message especially needs to be grasped and understood in America’s top energy-producing states including my home state of Wyoming—for the use of those resources is the key to better benefits and lives for all of us.
But don’t take my word for it, as anyone who truly knows me knows I hold reasoned, independent, thinking as my primary absolute. Pick up Mr. Epstein’s book and read it for yourself.

Sunday, December 28, 2014