33 controversial conclusions about energy, environmental, and climate issues
In Fossil Future, I look at the *full context* of facts about energy, environment, and climate from a *human flourishing perspective*. This leads to some very controversial conclusions.
A frequent question I get is: “Why do you think you’re right, given that so many experts disagree with you?”
I have two answers to this:
What most expert researchers think about energy and climate is very different from what we are told they think. (This is the issue, discussed extensively in Fossil Future, of how our “knowledge system” fails to do its job of synthesizing and disseminating expert research.)
Because, as a humanist philosopher, I consider the full context of facts about fossil fuels from a human flourishing perspective. And most thinkers on energy and climate do not do this. Not even close.
Here are 33 controversial conclusions I have come to, explained thoroughly in Fossil Future, based on full context, pro-human thinking.
If you find any of these conclusions particularly compelling, please share this list with your favorite TV or podcast hosts. I’m happy to discuss any of these topics during the Fossil Future media tour, beginning in April; the book will be released April 19th. (To book me, DM me on Twitter @AlexEpstein.)
The cost of energy is far more significant to the livability of the planet for human beings than the level of CO₂ in the atmosphere. Except if the level of CO₂ is too low, in which case we all die. (Chapter 4, pages 110-113)
Revolutions in digital technology, including machine learning and cryptocurrency, will continue to drive increasing energy demand even as energy efficiency increases—and that’s a good thing. (Pages 176-178)
Fossil fuels haven’t made Earth unnaturally unlivable, they’ve made Earth unnaturally livable. (Chapter 4, Pages 114-125)
Fossil fuels deserve but do not get credit for rapid progress, because they have made and continue to make possible most advancements in science, technology, medicine, and sanitation. (Pages 129-135)
Fossil fuels haven’t taken a naturally safe planet and made it unnaturally dangerous, they have taken a naturally dangerous planet and made it unnaturally safe. (Chapter 4, Pages 109-113, 153)
Fossil fuels haven’t taken a naturally resource rich planet and made it resource poor, they have taken a resource-poor planet and made it unnaturally resource rich. (Pages 53-56)
Fossil fuel use is not “unsustainable” or “sustainable,” but “progressive”—part of an evolutionary process of always using the best form of energy. (Page 377)
Alternatives to fossil fuels
All claims that solar and wind are cost-competitive replacements for fossil fuels are based on “partial cost accounting”: not looking at the cost of the full process necessary to produce energy. (Pages 218-220)
If solar and wind ever become practical on a large scale, their biggest opponents would not be the fossil fuel industry but the “green” movement. (Pages 223-226)
Claims that the world can be powered by solar and wind are based not on evidence but on baseless fantasies such as low-cost multiday electricity storage. (Pages 221-223)
The environmental and climate effects of fossil fuels
The “negative externalities” of fossil fuels are far exceeded by their “positive externalities.” (Page 170-173)
Warming will occur mostly in colder places, during colder seasons, and at colder times of day. (Pages 265, 324)
No climate scientist or climate economist has established that the negatives of rising CO₂ levels outweigh the positives of rising CO₂ levels, let alone outweigh the unique, fundamental, and desperately-needed benefits of fossil fuels. (Pages 339, 351-352)
Fossil fuels have made our water far cleaner. (Pages 49, 58, 93, 110, 359)
If human beings practice “wildfire mastery,” no conceivable change in climate could cause significant wildfire problems. (Pages 271-275)
Not only is fossil fuel use not causing mass extinction, continuing fossil fuel use will help foster the preservation and expansion of important species. (Page 339)
Human beings are not only not ruining the oceans, we are beginning to make oceans better via fossil-fueled ocean mastery—like the “mariculture” project that led to an explosion of salmon in Canada. (Pages 348-350)
Rising CO₂ levels can’t make the Earth unlivable—at most, they can make Earth more tropical at a rate that is disrupting (not catastrophic). (Page 321-325)
Fossil fuels, by powering modern irrigation and drought relief systems, have transformed drought from the deadliest form of climate danger into something that kills 99% fewer people than it used to. (Page 266-269)
“Climate mastery,” the use of human intelligence—above all, high-energy machines—to neutralize climate danger and enhance climate benefits, is the most important, and most ignored, variable in determining the livability of the global climate system. (Chapter 7, Pages 250-251)
The anti-fossil fuel movement
Most media-designated “experts” are very poor thinkers about energy, focusing on negative side-effects and ignoring benefits. (Pages 6-7)
What we are told by leading institutions that “the experts” think about fossil fuels is very different from what most expert energy and climate researchers actually think. (Pages 11-19, 39)
Most climate scientists are essentially ignorant about climate adaptation and climate mastery. (Page 38)
90% of disagreement about energy issues is not based on differences over facts but differences over philosophy. (Chapter 3, Pages 74-78)
90% of designated experts on fossil fuels largely or totally ignore the unique, massive, and desperately-needed benefits of fossil fuels and almost exclusively focus on negative side-effects. (Pages 29-34)
The biggest critics of fossil fuels—academics and Hollywood celebrities—are the biggest beneficiaries of fossil fuels, since most of their jobs would not exist without the time and resources fossil fuels free up for academics and entertainment. (Pages 127, 159)
“97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is real” falsely equates belief that humans have some climate impact (true) with the belief that humans have catastrophic climate impact (false). (Pages 305-307)
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is primarily a religious and political organization, not a scientific organization. (Pages 12-13, 288, 308)
“Protect the environment” and “save the planet” are invalid expressions that mislead us into thinking that anti-human actions are good for us. (Pages 81-82, 300, 404)
All restrictions on CO₂ emissions should be eliminated. The only CO₂ reductions efforts that should be undertaken are liberating cost-effective sources of low-carbon or lower-carbon energy like nuclear, deep geothermal, and natural gas. (Pages 357-392)
It’s possible to change people’s minds on fossil fuels and climate change by “reframing the conversation” and “arguing to 100.” (Pages 401-421)
The fossil fuel industry and other fossil fuel advocates have unintentionally reinforced the case for eliminating fossil fuels. (Pages 405-409)
One of the best things you can do for the world is to advocate for increasing fossil fuel use. (Pages 415-421)
Over the next two months, leading up to the April 19th release dates I’ll be sharing some sections of Fossil Future. Let me know in the comments which controversial conclusions you’d like me to share material on.
I discussed how full-context, pro-human thinking leads to controversial-but-true conclusions in my “Opposing Views” interview with Mikhaila Peterson.
“Energy Talking Points by Alex Epstein” is my free Substack newsletter designed to give as many people as possible access to concise, powerful, well-referenced talking points on the latest energy, environmental, and climate issues from a pro-human, pro-energy perspective.
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