3:10:15 The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, a Book Review

The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels by Alex Epstein is ambitious. Its premise flies in the face of much supposed consensus about our energy future. Epstein argues the energy we now have is cheap, plentiful, and reliable (mostly coal, oil, and natural gas). He says advocates of replacing these with renewables like solar, wind, and biomass are misguided and ignore the moral ethics of the question.

Epstein's moral standard is straightforward: We should use energy resources that give the greatest good to the greatest number of people. He opposes the nonhuman standard--often expressed as Do No Harm to Nature and says that only leads to unacceptable suffering, if not death, for too many.

[book cover]

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 more ...
(click to enlarge image)

The Cat at Light's End

Read Charlie Dickinson's story collection, The Cat at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable formats:

.mobi (Kindle)
.epub (most other readers)
.pdf (for PCs)

Also, a flash fiction, "Ylena Thinks Nyet," is at Cigale Literary Magazine.

more posts

2:5:15 Pinhead Books aka e-books
1:15:15 Good Riddance to Old-School Shaving!
12:20:14 Three Whys I Quit Reading a Book
12.12.14 the life-changing magic of tidying up, a book review
11.12.14 Oil Changes
10.29:14 Grapefruit
10.17:14 Doomsday Preppers, a TV series review
9.30:14 The Trigger, a book review
9:10:14 Clipboard People
8:23:14 Ukraine Diaries, a book review
8:21:14 My Home Darkroom on a Shoestring
7:29:14 Right Speech
6:28:14 Pacific Power's Wily Ways
6:20:14 My New Clarks Sandals
5:31:14 Portland's Water Woes, Again
5:10:14 Faster Dial-Up
4:11:14 Update on Stockpiling Light Bulbs
4:10:14 The Next 100 Years, a book review
3:15:14 A Cruel and Shocking Act, a book review
3:8:14 Ukraine: Another Revolution Gone Awry
2:9:14 The Flight (and Fight) of the Hummingbird
1:25:14 My Frugal Byways
1:20:14 Walden on Wheels, a book review
1:2:14 Growing Up Amish: A Memoir, a book review
12:27:13 Micro-Apartments
11:28:13 The Moneyless Man, a book review
11:23:13 The Lost Art of Walking, a book review
11:10:13 The Cultural Revolution Cookbook, a book review
10:23:13 The Biker Angel
10:11:13 No Self-Serve Gas in Oregon
9:28:13 A Street Cat Named Bob, a book review
9:23:13 The Life & Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin, a book review
9:18:13 Autumn Leaves
8:19:13 The Worst Car Driver & Why
8:12:13 The Gardener from Ochakov, a book review
7:25:13 Le Havre by Kaurismaki
7:20:13 This Ain't California
6:27:13 The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking, a book review
5:29:13 My Linux (Mis)Adventures
5:25:13 Southern Cross the Dog, a book review
5:5:13 Russian Tumbleweed
4:16:13 "The Machine Stops" by E. M. Forster
3:26:13 Camera-rama
3:25:13 Moore's Law
3:13:13 Grocery Shopping 
2:28:13 Razor Blade in Moonlight
1:27:13 Made in Russia: Unsung Icons of Soviet Design, a book review
1:6:13 Alleys
12:9:12 White Bread, a book review
12:4:12 Update on Old-School Shaving
11:12:12 Ten Great Buys at Dollar Tree
11:6:12 My New Russian Camera
10:29:12 Leaf Day
10:2:12 The Russian Navy in New York?
9:21:12 The Righteous Mind, a book review
9:14:12 Revolution, 1989, a book review
8:23:12 Train Whistles in the Night
8:2:12 Why I've Stockpiled Light Bulbs
7:22:12 Old-School Shaving
7:16:12 Злектроника МК-52, computer de minimus
7:4:12 Ivan's Childhood by Tarkovsky
6:21:12 The Unabomber, a modern Thoreau?
6:12:12 Do the gods exist?
6:7:12 My "Retail Therapy"
5:28:12 On Taxes, We Should Go Green
5:17:12 Portland's Trash
5:6:12 The Toaster Project, a book review
4:24:12 No Seconds
4:12:12 Portland's Runaway Utility Bill
4:8:12 The Repossession, a book review
3:30:12 How I Got Published in Mississippi Review
3:18:12 Rothko
3:9:12 The End of Money, a book review
3:1:12 gutenberg.org
2:18:12 Beauty Plus Pity, a book review
2:5:12 Kirk's Castile Soap
1:29:12 Confessions of a Fallen Standard-Bearer, a book review
1:22:12 Thirst, a book review
1:17:12 My IBM ThinkPad 1999-2012
1:11:12 String Beans
12:22:11 Spiritual TMJ
12:16:11 1Q84, a book review
12:11:11 How Portland Became Portlandia
12:1:11 The Fixie
11:20:11 Camus' Insight
11:13:11 Old & Worthy
11:7:11 Life Is Tragic
10:31:11 A Matter of Death and Life, a book review
10:25:11 Dead Letter, Email Fatigue
10:18:11 Reinventing Collapse, a book review
10:11:11 Rereading Pirsig
10:1:11 The Sisters Brothers, a book review
9:26:11 The Great Stagnation, a book review
9:16:11 Coffee, The Affordable Luxury
9:12:11 The Genius of Value
9:5:11 Death and the Penguin, a book review