Mother Nature's Not Nice

Tom Finnerty27 Apr, 2023 3 Min Read
There's a way to fix this, you know.

Do yourself a favor and watch this excellent interview that veteran journalist John Stossel recently did with Alex Epstein, founder of the Center for Industrial Progress and author of the New York Times bestseller The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels and, more recently, Fossil Future.

I would like to highlight one particular part of this exchange in which Epstein pushes back on the Rousseauian, Mother-Nature-knows-best philosophy espoused by so many environmentalists. After establishing that the Biden administration's frequent promises to "end fossil fuels" and attacks on oil and gas decrease investment in the natural resource sector and increase fuel costs, Epstein argues that that in fact is their goal. They want energy to become unaffordable in the expectation that this will make wind and solar power more attractive. Stossel, playing devil's advocate, replies "You say unaffordable, but who's to determine what that is? If we're going to save the planet from climate change, we need to pay more." Here is Epstein's answer:

We live in a society that has no clue about how valuable low cost reliable energy is. Because the general narrative is 'we're destroying the planet with fossil fuels, so who cares how much energy costs?' But the truth is the exact opposite. The planet is only livable because of low cost, reliable energy from fossil fuels. Historically life expectancy was below thirty, income was basically nonexistent, which means everyone had very few resources. The population was stagnant because people had such a high [early] death rate. And the basic reason is that nature is not a very livable place for human beings. The earth is naturally deficient and it is naturally dangerous.

And the only way we can prosper and flourish is by being extremely productive. And the only way we can be extremely productive, given the physical weakness of our bodies, is to use machines to create immense amounts of value. And what fossil fuels do is they give us low-cost, reliable energy to power all the amazing machines that make us productive and prosperous....

As fossil fuel use has gone up, climate related disaster deaths have plummeted. This is because the climate is naturally dangerous. We make it unnaturally safe by producing all forms of climate protection. We produce drought relief through irrigation, through drought relief convoys. We produce sturdy buildings. We produce heat when its cold, we produce cold when its hot. We have this amazing productive ability that's the only reason we experience the planet as livable.

Stossel, again playing devil's advocate, counters, "It's livable! People lived on the planet before we had practical fossil fuels." To which Epstein says,

So the planet is livable in the sense that the human species did not go extinct, but it is not livable by what I would call the standard of human flourishing, which means that everyone has the opportunity to have a long, healthy, fulfilling life. That is a total modern phenomenon that depends on modern fossil fuel productive ability.... A statistic that really resonates with me is that when I was born in 1980 more than 4 out of 10 people lived in extreme poverty, which means less than $2 a day....

Now forty years later, its less than 1 in 10. So we have just eradicated an unprecedented amount of poverty around the world. How has this happened? Well if you look at China and India, the major places where this has happened, its very clear. They've used a lot of fossil fuel to to power a lot of productive machines that have enabled them to have unprecedented prosperity. Now do they have problems relative to us? Yes, but their life expectancy has skyrocketed, their resources have skyrocketed, their opportunities have skyrocketed.

And what we face to today is the decision, are we going to let the 3 billion people in the world who still use less electricity than a typical American refrigerator, are we going to let them empower and be prosperous and have the opportunity to have their first well-paying job, their first consistent supply of clean water, you know, the first time they're not worried about food shortages? Are we going to allow them to have a modern life? Because that's going to depend on fossil fuels.

Exactly right. As is his concern that, while China and India have gotten their feet in the fossil fuel door, Africa is being denied the same advantages as western nations pressure and bribe African governments not to embrace them, thereby preventing life-saving (and enhancing) economic development on that continent.

Tom Finnerty writes from New England and Ontario.


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One comment on “Mother Nature's Not Nice”

  1. Depopulation is their overall goal, starvation is their preferred tactic. Everything they say makes sense with this in mind. Humans are the disease, saving the planet requires eliminating as many as possible. Unfortunately the truth makes for lousy fundraising brochures, so they lie.

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