Author: Fossil Fuels Key To Human Prosperity

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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Fossil fuels get a lot of flack from activists, politicians and the media, but can you imagine what the world would be like without them? Fossil fuels have actually fueled unparalleled prosperity for mankind.

This is what author Alex Epstein argues in his book “The Moral Case For Fossil Fuels.” Epstein delves into the nitty gritty of a debate that is shaped by politics, ideology and monied interests on both sides.

Epstein argues that fossil fuels have made the world a more prosperous and healthy place. Cheap energy from coal, oil and natural gas powers cars, homes, airplanes, universities, hospitals, video games — virtually everything in the modern world.

“The benefits of fossil fuels far, far outweigh the risk,” Epstein told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an interview, adding that we should be using more fossil fuels, not fewer, like many environmental activists want.

“The ideal the environmental movement has been based on is human non-impact,” said Epstein, who is also the founder of the Center for Industrial Progress. “The core of it has always been anti-impact and having a very low view of human life.”

“This ideal has infected almost everyone in the culture, even the oil companies,” he said. “They’re taught to think that’s somehow low. … We can do it badly.”

“There are really two prevailing approaches to fossil fuels: the unnecessary evil approach and the necessary evil approach,” he continued. “My view is that this is something very, very good on the whole. This is something that we should use more of.”

In 2012, environmental activist Bill McKibben wrote an article in Rolling Stone magazine warning the world would basically become unlivable because of global warming. McKibben argued that most of the world’s fossil fuel resources need to be kept in the ground in order to avoid catastrophe.

“We have five times as much oil and coal and gas on the books as climate scientists think is safe to burn,” McKibben wrote. “We’d have to keep 80 percent of those reserves locked away underground to avoid that fate. Before we knew those numbers, our fate had been likely. Now, barring some massive intervention, it seems certain.”

McKibben’s call to ditch fossil fuels inspired Epstein to challenge environmentalist’s claims that fossil fuels are making humans worse off. He even offered McKibben $10,000 to debate him — which McKibben gladly accepted.

“At its core, it’s really good to stick some metal into the ground and pull out materials to make a plastic heart,” Epstein said.

Epstein has even taken on activists at Occupy Wall Street and, most recently, at the so-called “People’s Climate March” where he carried around a sign saying “I Love Fossil Fuels.” He does it not only to be provocative, but to make activists truly think about their anti-fossil fuel sentiment.

“My goal in these things is not to show that these people are ridiculous, but to show that these people had the wrong moral goal,” Epstein said.

But what about global warming? Activists often ask him. To that, Epstein says that “we need to investigate the potential risks of global warming, but we need to do it in a way that weighs all the benefits and the risks.”

“Is warming actually good or bad for human life?” Epstein asked. “One side says it’s wrong to cause warming even if it” yields benefits.

Epstein is also doing his best to reach out to leaders in the fossil fuel industry. Some oil companies, for example, are running away from the fact that they’re an oil company and championing anti-fossil fuel policies.

“The thing that sparked [his book] was an essay I wrote to very high level oil CEOs,” Epstein said. “It emphasized that you guys are positioning yourself like the tobacco industry. From the beginning my goal has been to reach out to the general public and reach out to the industry.”

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