17 surprising facts from Fossil Future
In 14 years of researching the big picture of energy, environment, and climate, I’ve learned many facts that the media never mention—even though few expert researchers dispute them
One of the key ideas of Fossil Future is that when we are evaluating fossil fuels and alternatives, we need to consider the full context of facts.
I am extremely critical of many leading thinkers and institutions for “catastrophizing” the negative side-effects of fossil fuels, while ignoring fossil fuels’ unique, massive, and desperately-needed benefits to human flourishing.
Here are just some of the “surprising facts” I have learned about fossil fuels, environment, and climate by considering the full context. These are facts that almost no expert researchers will dispute or deny—but yet you never hear about them.
Fossil fuels are uniquely cost-effective: the only form of energy that can provide every type of energy need (electricity, mobility, industrial heat, residential heat) at low cost, on-demand, for billions of people. (Page 20)
After 100 years of vigorous competition from alternatives, fossil fuels provide 80% of the world’s energy, including over 90% of the world’s transportation energy—and are growing.(Page 196)
Only 1/5th of the world uses what Americans would consider a modest amount of energy. 3 billion people use less electricity than a typical American refrigerator.(Page 26)
Alternatives to fossil fuels
Nuclear energy is the safest form of energy ever created.(Page 60)
Nuclear energy is the cleanest form of energy ever created. (Page 60)
Nuclear energy has become many times more expensive even though the raw material prices haven’t increased and the knowledge of how to produce nuclear energy efficiently has improved.(Page 62)
There is no low-cost, scalable way of capturing CO₂ in existence or on the horizon.(Page 237)
The anti-fossil fuel movement
The anti-fossil fuel “green” movement claims to want to lower CO₂ emissions at all costs, yet opposes the two most proven, cost-effective ways of lowering CO₂ emissions: nuclear energy and hydroelectric energy. (Page 86)
Contrary to the idea that today’s designated climate experts have been “too conservative” in their predictions about climate change, they have actually been far too catastrophic—predicting a dramatic increase in climate-related death, when in reality climate-related deaths ended up plummeting.(Page 42)
Climate-related disaster deaths have decreased 98% over the last century. (Page 42)
Many leading “studies” claiming to prove climate catastrophe totally ignore human beings’ incredible ability to adapt to and master negative climate changes. (Pages 84, 101-102, 247)
The environmental and climate impacts of fossil fuels
Despite claims that the world is “too hot,” cold-related deaths far exceed heat-related deaths.(Page 262)
The “greenhouse effect” is a diminishing effect: new CO2 emissions have less of a warming impact than earlier CO₂ emissions.(Page 325)
The global climate system is near historic lows in CO₂ and temperature.(Pages 334-335)
We have no near-term mechanism of reaching even one fourth the historical high of CO₂.(Page 321)
Life on Earth thrived at far higher CO₂ levels and temperatures in the past.(Page 322)
Planetary warming is concentrated in colder parts of the Earth—it is not truly global.(Page 324)
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Current capturing capacities are about 40 million tonnes annually.
International Energy Agency - Carbon capture, utilisation and storage
Estimates for U.S. CO₂ use in enhanced oil recovery show an optimistic potential for 20
billion tons of CO₂ used over several decades, a fraction of total U.S. emissions over that
time period (6.5 billion tons annually today). This would also require greatly expanding
oil production and most of the CO₂ used today is not from captured emissions but
Institute for 21st Century Energy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce - CO₂ Enhanced Oil Recovery
For every million people on earth, annual deaths from climate-related causes (extreme temperature, drought, flood, storms, wildfires) declined 98%--from an average of 247 per year during the 1920s to 2.5 in per year during the 2010s.
Data on disaster deaths come from EM-DAT, CRED / UCLouvain, Brussels, Belgium – www.emdat.be (D. Guha-Sapir).
Population estimates for the 1920s from the Maddison Database 2010 come from the Groningen Growth and Development Centre, Faculty of Economics and Business at University of Groningen. For years not shown, population is assumed to have grown at a steady rate.
Population estimates for the 2010s come from World Bank Data.