The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels

The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels

Book - 2014
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The author believes that "we're taught to think only of the negatives of fossil fuels, their risks and side effects, but not their positives--their unique ability to provide cheap, reliable energy for a world of seven billion people. And the moral significance of cheap, reliable energy, Epstein argues, is woefully underrated. Energy is our ability to improve every single aspect of life, whether economic or environmental"--Amazon.com.
Publisher: New York, New York :, Portfolio/Penguin,, 2014.
ISBN: 9781591847441
1591847443
Branch Call Number: 333.82 Epstein 11/2014
Characteristics: 248 pages :,illustrations ;,24 cm

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bowiet
May 21, 2017

Regardless of the data itself, Epstein's overall philosophy expressed in this book is an important turn on mainstream thought biases. He plays devil's advocate with many of the arguments we've taken for granted since public school. Epstein isn't a climate change denier, nor does he claim that fossil fuels have no dangerous side effects. He simply emphasizes that if we hold human life as our standard of value, then fossil fuels are at this moment in time, the most efficient way to increase the quality of life for the most amount of people.

The same philosophy can be applied to many different arguments where costs are weighed over benefits in relation to the quality of human life. For instance, the government ought to ban automobiles, due to their enormous death tolls, reliance on fossil fuels, and destruction of the environment, and we could revert back to walking; or we could accept the costs in return for the invaluable benefits we receive from automobiles, and hope that in another twenty years when they are fully automatic, road fatalities will be almost non-existent.

Of course, even admitting that human life is the most important thing on earth is a disgusting and immoral thought to some. In that case, Epstein will be unreadable. In an upsetting case of irony, some of us who live with the highest quality of life in a thriving modern world strongly believe that 'improvement' can only consist of going back to 'natural, organic, and green'. We inherit a world with low infant mortality, free of tuberculosis, polio, smallpox, and yet we trash Big Pharma for destroying our lives. We take our heated hockey rinks and 1-hour work commute, and trash Big Oil for destroying the world.

For the rest of us, accepting our present world of fossil fuels as, at this moment, the single most efficient way to increase the quality and happiness of the most amount of people worldwide, is not immoral.

n
naturalist
Dec 22, 2016

“Fossil Fuels : Debating the Moral Case for Fossil Fuels”
by Stephen Lacey, posted February 12, 2015, at The Energy Gang – A Greentech Media Podcast
https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/the-moral-case-for-fossil-fuels
and,
“Top 10 Garbage Climate Change Stories From The Koch Brothers’ Favorite Right-Wing Website”
by Denise Robbins, posted June 29, 2016, at Media Matters For America
http://mediamatters.org/blog/2016/06/29/top-10-garbage-climate-change-stories-koch-brothers-favorite-right-wing-website-year/211273
and,
“Climate truthers are losing it: Conservatives’ anti-science crusade stoops to a new low”
by Lindsay Abrams, posted September 26, 2014, at Salon
http://www.salon.com/2014/09/26/through_the_right_wing_looking_glass_conservatives_anti_climate_crusade_stoops_to_a_new_low/

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EuSei Aug 09, 2015

For decades, environmentalists have told us that using fossil fuels is a self-destructive addiction that will destroy our planet. Yet at the same time, by every measure of human well-being, from life expectancy to clean water to climate safety, life has been getting better and better.

How can this be?

The explanation, energy expert Alex Epstein argues in The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, is that we usually hear only one side of the story. We’re taught to think only of the negatives of fossil fuels, their risks and side effects, but not their positives—their unique ability to provide cheap, reliable energy for a world of seven billion people. And the moral significance of cheap, reliable energy, Epstein argues, is woefully underrated. Energy is our ability to improve every single aspect of life, whether economic or environmental.

If we look at the big picture of fossil fuels compared with the alternatives, the overall impact of using fossil fuels is to make the world a far better place. We are morally obligated to use more fossil fuels for the sake of our economy and our environment.

Drawing on original insights and cutting-edge research, Epstein argues that most of what we hear about fossil fuels is a myth. For instance . . .

Myth: Fossil fuels are dirty.
Truth: The environmental benefits of using fossil fuels far outweigh the risks. Fossil fuels don’t take a naturally clean environment and make it dirty; they take a naturally dirty environment and make it clean. They don’t take a naturally safe climate and make it dangerous; they take a naturally dangerous climate and make it ever safer.

Myth: Fossil fuels are unsustainable, so we should strive to use “renewable” solar and wind.
Truth: The sun and wind are intermittent, unreliable fuels that always need backup from a reliable source of energy—usually fossil fuels. There are huge amounts of fossil fuels left, and we have plenty of time to find something cheaper.

Myth: Fossil fuels are hurting the developing world.
Truth: Fossil fuels are the key to improving the quality of life for billions of people in the developing world. If we withhold them, access to clean water plummets, critical medical machines like incubators become impossible to operate, and life expectancy drops significantly. Calls to “get off fossil fuels” are calls to degrade the lives of innocent people who merely want the same opportunities we enjoy in the West.

Taking everything into account, including the facts about climate change, Epstein argues that “fossil fuels are easy to misunderstand and demonize, but they are absolutely good to use. And they absolutely need to be championed. . . . Mankind’s use of fossil fuels is supremely virtuous—because human life is the standard of value and because using fossil fuels transforms our environment to make it wonderful for human life.”

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