If I had to sum up those who oppose Epstein in two words it would be "global warming," especially as presented in Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth.
Epstein doesn't argue global warming and the greenhouse effect are not scientific fact. No, he digs deeper and comes up with a surprise.
Epstein will ask the Bill McKibbens of the world, when he debates them, if they understand the equation that relates how more CO2 added to the atmosphere increases global temperature.
Is the relationship accelerating? Will more CO2 in the atmosphere lead to runaway temperature increases--melting polar icecaps, flooded coast lines and such, typified by the Chicken Littledom of An Inconvenient Truth?
It turns out, observation shows a decelerating relationship. That is, future increases in CO2 will cause less and less global warming. We've gone from 270 ppm to 396 ppm CO2 since the Industrial Revolution and even if we go to 500 ppm, we've already seen the worst of global warming. That's the inconvenient truth.
But it's really in the rest of the developing world, Epstein makes his strongest case. He notes a hospital in Gambia, lacking plentiful, cheap, and reliable energy, performs a fraction of what hospitals in the West do routinely. Procedures that save lives.
Anyone who's experienced daily power outages in Third World countries--I have--knows of what Epstein speaks. Yes, the no-carbon fuel folks say give Africans solar panels so they'll skip our industrial "mistakes." That's patronizing. Give them some coal-fired power plants for modern hospitals!
Epstein has an admirable moral defense of traditional energy. And while untrammeled Nature has appeal, I think Epstein would agree we're locked out of the Garden of Eden. We best make use of what we have--plentiful, cheap, and reliable energy, a miracle in itself!
The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels by Alex Epstein, Portfolio/Penguin, New York, 2014, eISBN: 978-0-698-17548-8
Image credit: Google Images @ wsj.com
Read Charlie Dickinson's
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