Review: “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels” — Really?

I first heard about Alex Epstein’s book The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels via an unsurprisingly fawning review over at the SkeptEco blog. Its premise is so ludicrous that normally I wouldn’t read it, never mind review it. There is no “moral case for fossil fuels”, just as there was no “moral case for slavery” in 1860.

But given the alarming rise, in the US and elsewhere, of the climate sceptic/pro fossil fuel lobby (witness, for instance, Sen. James Inhofe’s ludicrous attack on climate science in the US Senate recently) it feels important to look a bit closer at the arguments presented.

Epstein recently started something called the ‘Center for Industrial Progress’ and lectures on the need to keep fossil fuels as a key driver for the economy. At other times he can be found, among other things, defending child labour or arguing that animals have no rights. He likes to paint himself and the fossil fuel industry as the misunderstood underdogs, holding the line against the far more influential “greens”. He’s a curious character, as can be seen in this video of him standing in the middle of the hundreds of thousands of people who attended the Peoples’ Climate March in New York last year, heckling them with inane comments like “you know, your clothes are fracked!”

“As you read this,” he writes, “there is a real, live, committed movement against fossil fuels that truly wants to deprive us of the energy of life.” This painting of the oil industry as the good guys, as the misunderstood heroes being undermined by uninformed idiots (ie, you and I), is the first, but by no means the last, place where Epstein parts company with reality.

He bemoans the fact that fossil fuel companies “have had to fight daily for permission to empower billions of people”. Try telling that to the communities in Ecuador affected by the oil spills for which Chevron was fined $19 billion, people in Richmond, California, who live in the shadow of the Chevron refinery that exploded in 2012, communities living near mountaintop removal coal plants, people living near fracking sites, or First Nations peoples living near the tar sands in Alberta, Canada. He continues:

“I believe that we owe the fossil fuel industry an apology. While the industry has been producing the energy to make our climate more liveable, we have treated it as a villain. We owe it the kind of gratitude that we owe anyone who makes our lives much, much better.”

Central to Epstein’s argument, echoing those put forward by other cornucopians such as Matt Ridley in The Rational Optimist, is the idea that fossil fuels have been the best thing that ever happened to us (given that Ridley was recently estimated to be personally responsibly for 1% of the UK’s total carbon emissions, one might be forgiven for questioning his objectivity here).

The rise of fossil fuel use, Epstein argues, has led to better air quality, increased life expectancy, rising incomes, better access to clean drinking water, etc, etc. This is stated as though it is somehow an insight that has escaped those arguing that we should now, with great urgency, leave fossil fuels behind, because, you see, “fossil-fuelled development is the greatest benefactor our environment has ever known”. The argument that it has led to the improvements he states is one that few would argue with.

Epstein’s argument is rather like staying with a psychotic and abusive partner because the first couple of months of the relationship were very lovely.

However, at the same time, it can hardly be said to have been without its side effects. To name but two, it has appallingly corrupted international politics and undermined democracy around the world. As Naomi Klein put it in This Changes Everything:

“Fossil fuels really do create a hyper-stratified economy. It’s the nature of the resources that they are concentrated, and you need a huge amount of infrastructure to get them out and to transport them. And that lends itself to huge profits and they’re big enough that you can buy off politicians.”

How many people in Nigeria, for example, dubbed the “world oil pollution capital” and where much of the wealth generated has been siphoned off through corruption, would argue that “fossil-fuelled development is the greatest benefactor our environment has ever known”? It is true that for many people (but by no means all) the fossil fuel age has brought great benefits.

However, Epstein’s argument is rather like staying with a psychotic and abusive partner because the first couple of months of the relationship were very lovely. Just because the first half of the oil age enabled some remarkable things does not mean logically that therefore the second half will be the same. Last year the IPCC stated that unchecked climate change will be “severe, widespread and irreversible”. You would think that that, along with the overwhelming body of scientific opinion, suggests that the second half of the oil age might not quite be the bed of roses the first half was (for some at least). But not for Epstein.

He writes: “To me, the question of what to do about fossil fuels and any other moral issue comes down to: What will promote human life? What will promote human flourishing — realising the full potential of human life?”

Given that this is the same question we ask in Transition, it’s fascinating to explore how we end up at such resolutely different places (and how he ends up advocating an approach almost guaranteed to put an end of any possibility of human flourishing). Epstein does this by several sleights of hand. The first is by dismissing climate change. His argument is only logical, or even possible, if climate change isn’t an issue.

We know that 14 of the 15 hottest years on record have occurred since 2000. Yet to make his case that this fact somehow isn’t a problem, he wheels out lots of the rather tired and unfounded sceptic myths, such as:

Myth #1: CO2 is a “plant food with a fertilising impact” — A ridiculous argument; plants need much more than just CO2. They need water (availability of which reduces as temperatures rise) and other minerals and, er, soil. The fact that plants in a greenhouse grow better when some CO2 is added, doesn’t scale up to the planet as a whole. For example, plants exposed to more CO2 can be more vulnerable to pests, and reduces the quality of crops.

Myth #2: You can’t rely on climate models  Epstein argues that the case for climate change rests largely on climate models, of which he writes “those models have failed to make accurate predictions – not just a little, but completely”. But a recent study has shown that actually climate models have been very accurate, and actually can be more conservative than what is actually unfolding, for example in relation to the speed of melting of Arctic ice. Epstein writes “just about every prediction or prescription you hear about the issue of climate change is based on models”. But it’s not … the whole picture is also supported by a huge body of evidence of the impacts unfolding in the world around us, often in ways predicted by models. To say, as he does, that “every climate model based on CO2 as a major climate driver has been a failure” is simply untrue.

Myth #3: There is no 97% consensus among climate scientists  But there is. Read more here.

Myth #4: Scientists in the 70s predicted global cooling, so what do they know?  Again, a rather tired and silly myth beloved of climate sceptics. Reality is that even in the 70s, when climate science was in its infancy, there were 6 times more scientists predicting global warming than global cooling, it’s just that the cooling folks got the memorable Newsweek covers. Over time, as the evidence built, the case for global warming became clearer and stronger until the consensus we see today.

And so on. The rest of his arguments about climate change are similarly out-of-date, foundationless and silly, the intellectual equivalent of his standing facing in one direction, as in New York in the video above, while science and reason pour past in the other direction. But without them his so called ‘moral case for fossil fuels’ crumbles to dust.

He then argues, remarkably, that actually even if climate change were true, burning more fossil fuels in response will make us safer (I know, just go with me here, we’re in an Alice Through the Looking Glass parallel universe now). Fossil fuels, he argues, “don’t take a safe climate and make it dangerous, [they] take a dangerous climate and make it safe”.

Fossil fuels, you see, mean that we can, for example, power air conditioning so we can live in hot places in comfort. We can build better flood defences, we can use fossil fuelled technology to adapt to any climate. And of course, he adds, fossil fuels mean we can always up and move somewhere else! He writes:

“If you think about the climate in a real way, not as some vague mystical, “global climate”, but as the climate around you, you are a master of climate just by virtue of the fact that you can change climates”.

Here Epstein situates himself alongside the ‘neo-greens’ such as Stewart Brand, who argues “we are as gods, and we have to get good at it”. The belief that anyone can be a “master of climate” is deeply arrogant and flawed, as was highlighted in our recent interview with Clive Hamilton about geoengineering.

But while that “master of climate” argument may resonate in his air conditioned house in southern California, it doesn’t work so well in, for example, Pakistan. The Asia Development Bank already suggests that environmental factors, including climate change, are “already an important driver in migration”. 10 million people have been displaced by flooding and 2,000 died when 20% of the country was under water. A recent report by the UK Climate Change and Migration Coalition told some of stories of those affected. While you could feasibly imagine that fossil fuels might have a small role to play in creating flood defences in Pakistan, the impacts of the developed world, including the emissions associated with Epstein’s air conditioning, will overwhelm any benefits.

Ideas of fairness, social justice, global inequalities of power and wealth barely register in Epstein’s analysis. For him, fossil fuels are benign, with no noticeable impacts on geopolitics and relationships of power. Their role in creating corruption, war, their role as a driver in the US’s dreadful foreign policy approach, rendition, torture, how the US government has become central to the US pushing fracking on the rest of the world, all go without mention. He argues that it is wrong to deny the developing world the benefits of fossil fuels, an approach Michael Klare terms ‘carbon humanitarianism”, describing it as “the claim that cheap carbon-based fuels are the best possible response to the energy-poor of the planet (despite everything we know about the devastation climate change will cause, above all in the lives of the poor)”.

The $1.9 trillion the world spends a year subsidising the fossil fuel industry goes without mention too, as he prefers to bemoan the tiny fraction of that the world spends on subsidising renewable energy. He writes that thanks to fossil fuels, “we don’t take a safe environment and make it dangerous; we take a dangerous environment and make it far safer”. Actually of course the global picture is that while wealthy nations are able to make themselves safer to climate risks (although it didn’t help much with, for example, the great floods in south west England last year), the developing world, where the impacts are felt most acutely, simply are not, nor are the wealthy nations rushing to help.

In terms of energy resources, he is, one might say, on the optimistic end of the spectrum. The world apparently has 3,050 years of “total remaining recoverable reserves” of coal left. But you will hear no mention of Energy Return on Energy Invested in these pages, no sense that not all coal is the same, nor all oil. Renewable energy is swept aside as “expensive, unreliable and unscaleable”, as he argues that “modern solar and wind technology do not produce reliable energy, period”.

It’s a book that will often have you pausing to think “did he really say that?” You’ll hear stuff like:

“There is no inherent reason to think that the extinction of any given plant or animal is bad for humans”

and…

“Not only can our way of life last; it can keep getting better and better, as long as we don’t adopt ‘sustainability’ policies”.

For me, in the face of the profound urgency of climate change and a fossil fuel industry that sows corruption and destruction wherever it goes, there really is no “moral case for fossil fuels”. Yes, they have, in many ways, been amazing. But all the evidence shows that continuing with fossil fuels runs a very high risk of finishing us off altogether. Given Epstein’s love for the infallible power of the market, and the creativity it can unleash, why is it so impossible to imagine that our inventiveness and brilliance cannot solve the challenges of intermittency in relation to renewables, and enable us to use energy far more efficiently?

We have a choice when faced with reality of either… clinging to what we’ve done… or stepping out with purpose, vision and creativity and doing something else. It was, after all, such a bold approach that created the Industrial Revolution in the first place.

“Humanity needs as much energy as it can get”, he argues. Quite where the morality of assuming that on a finite planet with finite resources it is acceptable to gorge oneself on energy, and to assume it is your right to always have as much as you need, eludes me. In This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein quotes Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre as saying:

“Our ongoing and collective carbon profligacy has squandered any opportunity for ‘evolutionary change’ afforded by our earlier (and larger) 2°C budget. Today, after two decades of bluff and lies, the remaining 2°C budget demands revolutionary change to the political and economic hegemony.”

It’s that unavoidable reality of the need for “revolutionary change” that triggers Epstein’s denial and compels him to write a book as feeble and poor as this. We have a choice when faced with reality of either retreating into clinging to what we’ve done up to that point, or stepping out with purpose, vision and creativity and doing something else. It was, after all, such a bold approach that created the Industrial Revolution in the first place. Why does it dissipate the moment we now have to design something else, something more appropriate to moving forward from now? Sadly Epstein, and most of the US Senate, are unable to take that leap. Their cautiousness does us all a huge disservice.

As Naomi Klein (whose This Changes Everything Epstein’s book cover has clearly been designed to echo) puts it: “there are no non-radical solutions left”. Epstein speaks for those for whom doing anything other than how we do things at the moment is unimaginable. Rather than being a moral position, it’s the opposite. File alongside those silly Michael Crichton climate change-bashing novels and move on. There’s too much to do, and too little time.

Hat tip to Resilience; article originally published by Transition Culture.

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Author

Rob Hopkins is the co-founder of Transition Town Totnes and of the Transition Network. This grew out of many years experience in education, teaching permaculture and natural building, and setting up the first 2 year full-time permaculture course in the world, at Kinsale Further Education College in Ireland, as well as co-ordinating the first eco-village development in Ireland to be granted planning permission.

Rob is author of The Transition Handbook: from oil dependence to local resilience, which has been published in a number of languages, and which was voted the 5th most popular book taken on holiday by MPs during the summer of 2008, and more recently of The Transition Companion: making your community more resilient in uncertain times, published in October 2011. He publishes the blog www.transitionculture.org, recently voted ‘the 4th best green blog in the UK’(!).

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  • Pat Lane

    The book is excellent and well referenced. For the reviewer to admit “I wouldn’t read it, never mind review it.”, based on the title, is an admission of Mr. Hopkins’ lack of intellectual integrity.

    Without the hysteria about hypothetical dangerous anthropogenic global warming, there would be no question about the benefits fossil fuels have generated.

    To deny these benefits to the less fortunate on our planet is an unspeakable crime against humanity.

    • Jim Simpson

      I share your views Pat – The pathetic attempt to denigrate it by the UN University is sufficient evidence for me to not only read it (which I have now done) but to now also strongly recommend it as a most informative and balanced view of the fossil fuel industry relative to the CAGW debate. Recommended reading IMHO!

      • Buzz Fledderjohn

        Rob Hopkins clearly did take the time to read and review the book, and quite thoroughly I might add.
        How people can believe tripe like this written by Alex Epstein is beyond me. And how embarrassing it’s going to be for those who so publicly stand up for something that is so clearly morally reprehensible.

        • Approved

        • Jim Simpson

          It seems many (people) have indeed read it, are more open minded and markedly more positive about its content over at http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20821049-the-moral-case-for-fossil-fuels than these few unbalanced, hand wringing attempts to deny the huge benefits that the fossil fuel industry has brought to the benefit of mankind, and will continue to do for many years to come. For moral embarrassment, just go look in a mirror.

          • Buzz Fledderjohn

            I don’t think there is anyone trying to deny that fossil fuels have brought benefits to humankind. But that doesn’t mean there have been no negative effects. Fossil fuels are a very dirty, polluting business. Human’s have clearly benefitted from the ENERGY that fossil fuels have provided. But that’s come with a lot of down sides relative to regional wars, oil spills, air pollution… and worst of all is the fact that the greenhouse gas emissions from burning those fossil fuels are dramatically warming our planet with likely awful consequences if we continue on our current path.

            We clearly need energy to sustain our current way of life and continue to advance the benefits of the first world to more and more humans around the world. We can’t supply that energy with a energy source that has such environmental risks. It’s imperative that we transition off of fossil fuels and on to carbon emissions free sources of energy. And quickly because time is running out.

          • Yes, precisely. Ignoring the impact is equally as illogical as ignoring the benefits. It is evident that seeing the pollution, destruction and scientific evidence that shows what humanity’s spiralling energy use is doing to natural systems makes many people afraid. Sadly communicating that fear becomes a messy and nonconstructive verbal battle with those who are equally afraid of losing the comforts they have. Perhaps we can all begin to talk openly about vulnerability and stop judging each other’s need for something to hope for?

          • Buzz Fledderjohn

            The challenge for me is the fact that, whenever I attempt to have a conversation about the problem, I end up faced with people who flat out reject that there is a problem. This Alex Epstein book is the perfect example. He flat rejects what the overwhelming body of scientific research is very clearly telling us. And we have commenters here who enthusiastically swallow his rejection of science without question.

            So, how do we have a conversation about an issue with people who refuse to see that there is an issue?

          • Buzz, I do understand (and share) your frustration. My comment wasn’t directed at you, it was more of a musing hypothetical. Perhaps if we had more insight into what is prompting the willingness to swallow such rejection, we (or I, at least) might not be as prone to dismiss the feeling/hope/need Epstein’s fans may be instinctually (and perhaps even subconsciously) defending when they do that rejecting. And if we are, thanks to that insight, able to refrain from criticizing their pov, then the anger-rejection cycle might get short-circuited and, well, who knows? I’m not suggesting that we’re anywhere near the stage where we can actually have a conversation, I’m just wondering if it’s possible that each ‘side’ might begin to understand what has prompted the other ‘side’ to adopt their perspective… Hmm, and my musings do sound like a huge challenge, I admit! It’s just that I’ve recently started learning about the impact of negativity on our brains (advances in neuroscience are moving even faster than Earth systems science, it seems) and am beginning to suspect that in the uber polarized energy debate we are dehumanizing each other, and the negativity becomes a vicious self-reinforcing cycle.

          • Buzz Fledderjohn

            You might find this video interesting. Done by my friend, John Cook.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtSk03efSqQ

          • Very interesting indeed.

          • Jim Simpson

            Carol & Buzz – I know of no one who denies that the climate changes. It’s been doing so for some 4.5 billion years and will continue for evermore. So I’d recommend you give that attempt at alarmism a rest. If you haven’t figured it out yet, the general population are sick and tired of hearing about it. I know I am.

            Your comments remind me of the little boy who cried wolf once too often. Just like your fellow alarmist, Al Gore & but one of his pathetic attempts at frightening the public with Armageddon eg http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/daily/2006/01/27/algore_we_have_ten_years_left_before_earth_cooks
            – with only some 173 days to go, I rather doubt that the Artic will be ice free by 2016. It’s still comfortably with +/- 2 degrees standard deviation of the mean. What do you think?

            Buzz – You claim coal is ‘very dirty’ etc and should be discontinued in favour of what you perceive as less polluting technology, presumably the ‘Unreliables’ of wind & solar. When did you last visit a coal fired power station complete with the latest technology scrubbers installed & related environmental controls that contain & minimise emissions. Like most things nowadays, the ingenuity of mankind is relentless. Technology is always on the move, reducing risks, not least environment ones and improving our way of life.

            Do you drive? I’d expect so, as most do, including me. If so, then we jointly elect to take a risk, because it’s common knowledge that driving kills. Though far more so in total numbers than all the coal fired power stations in the world, neither past nor current. Yet we (and millions like us globally), choose to risk life & limb and that of others every day to drive vehicles (irrespective of how they’re powered…) because that’s our choice & it enhances our way of life.

            The availability of reliable, efficient, least cost, 24h power delivered via fossil fuels is no different. There’s a risk. Albeit, markedly less nowadays because of improvements in technology, but it’s a risk that most (including me) are prepared to take until such time as something no less reliable, efficient & more cost effective comes along to compete with it.

            In the absence of empirical evidence proving the case against CO2 ie that it’s a pollutant & the primary driver of CAGW (flawed models by the UNIPCC don’t cut it), then the only way forward for the ‘Unreliables’ is to compete on a level playing field with fossil fuels.

            That’s what will win the debate, not your continuing alarmism.

            Last but by no means least, and to bring some balance to this debate, make an effort & watch this informative message from Dr Patrick Moore on the topic https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkdbSxyXftc
            Rgds,

          • BrendanBarrett

            Hi Jim,

            Thanks for your classic and rather worn out argumentation. Heard it all before.

            Actually, I find that we are moving to an exciting new phase around climate change and energy. We are facing rapid technological change and also some interesting developments at international, national and local levels. One example is the ambitious targets that many of the major cities around the world are setting for decarbonization and shifting away from fossil fuel dependency. Just take a look at what C40 is doing.

            At the global level, there is a general acceptance that we can decarbonize our economies and also transform economic growth. It is impressive to see how many countries have embraced this new position. All of this bodes well for our on-going energy transition.

            Of course there will always people who just don’t get it, and who are hanging on to old models, but if I was you I would start thinking about how best to invest my pension and make sure it is not tied into unburnable fossil fuels. At the end of the day, I do agree with Epstein that we should be thankful for the development opportunities that fossil fuel provided, but at the same time we have to look to the future and our new low carbon economy. There is no point clinging to the past. It is a bit like arguing that we should have stuck with feudalism. Yes, feudalism was important for human civilisation for a while, but we had to move beyond it. Same goes for the fossil fuel era.

          • Jim Simpson

            Hi Brendan,

            Your response is no less surprising. As usual, it fails to provide empirical evidence proving the case against CO2 that might rationally justify “decarbonising our economies”. In the absence of anything better, you hang onto that tired old, debunked cliché demonizing CO2 in the faint hope that it might just carry some sway among those who can’t think for themselves.

            Nor, unsurprisingly, do you offer support for your fellow Alarmist, Al Gore’s prediction of an ice free Arctic by 2016 – now just some 172 days away. I doubt neither you, nor any of your Al Gore supporters are willing to put their money (Super funds perchance?) up in support of that soon to be failed prediction coming true. Best to ignore it eh Brenden, in the desperate hope that the likes of those who can think rationally might just overlook it as nothing more than the ranting’s of some poor demented soul – Hmmm now maybe that’s not so far from an Inconvenient Truth.

            On a more positive note Brendan – thank you for at least acknowledging the merits Alex Epstein’s book relative to the benefits that fossil fuels have delivered, albeit primarily to those of us in the developed world. Though if we’re to follow your approach, it would never do to allow those in the developing world such benefits to help lift their poor & under privileged to a better standard of living using fossil fuels. Better to deny them the benefit of 24h, reliable, least cost power in favour of your chosen markedly less reliable, more expensive renewables.

            Your attempt to denigrate those (like me presumably) who are ‘clinging to the past’, also fails the ‘pub test’. You should know that I have absolutely nothing whatsoever against the likes of the ‘renewables’ as you define them ie Wind, Solar, Bio or hydro etc.

            Indeed, in past corporate life I had occasion to firstly consider the merits of wind & solar, then developed a Business Case. Based upon the output of that commercial assessment, I then spent some millions of corporate dollars in the roll out of a radio telecommunications network around the Australian coastline, powered in remote mountain region tops exclusively by solar PV panels & associated lead acid batteries. Most, if not all of those VHF-FM radio sites remain fully operational to this day. So you have nothing whatsoever to teach me about the capabilities & benefits of solar powered technology. It (solar) definitely has a role to play in current & future applications.

            However, solar PV &/or wind have to be ‘fit for purpose’ ie engineered to scale to meet real time needs of a civil society that demands high quality, reliable 24h, least cost power. Currently the ‘Unreliables’ of Wind, Solar fail (IMHO) spectacularly in that endeavour.

            If/when they should be capable of doing so & in fully transparent, competition with any other technology, eg fossil fuels, nuclear, what ever and exclusive of subsidies, they will have my full & absolute support.

            Let’s see your Business Case Brendan followed ASAP by an IPO so I can make a judgement as to whether I’ll invest in the business opportunity…, or not.
            Rgds.

          • BrendanBarrett

            Hi Jim,

            Your reference to empirical evidence is rather pointless. It has taken us five assessments from the IPCC to get the very solid position of the science of climate change. We are now at the point where we have some pretty clear and important studies on how to go about decarbonising our economy. In the first instance, may I point you to the New Climate Economy Report – http://newclimateeconomy.report

            So are you going to tell me that the Global Commission got it wrong? I look forward to your views on this?

            Next, may I point you to the work of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network on Deep Decarbonisation Pathways. http://unsdsn.org/what-we-do/deep-decarbonization-pathways/

            Now the case for decarbonisation is pretty clearly set out, but perhaps you are unconvinced which is fine. However, it is pretty clear where we are heading and the issue is more about how best to get there (and this is where the debate still lies).

            In this context, I suspect you may find the work of the Breakthrough Institute closer to your world view. Perhaps the Ecomodernist Manifesto would be a good document for you to review. http://www.ecomodernism.org

            At the end of the day, I think we all want a world where we can decouple economic progress from the negative environmental consequences. Perhaps we can agree on that.

            Brendan

          • deja-view

            Brendan; Historical, factual data is never “pointless”, empirical or not. Real data based on real events is far more accurate than the computer and trend models created by scientists who have a purpose in mind. What we have driving the HCGW and HCCC scam is not science. It is manipulation of data created by extremists and hard core believers in our imminent doom—-just as it has been for over 50 years. The reality of countries and cultures who choose to ignore the polluting effect of fossil fuels or any other chemical reactions is a failure on their responsibility, not ours. When it gets bad enough, they fix it….just as we did. We have vastly better technology today that can monitor and fix problems than in the past. Those will win out, but waiting for the development of “alternatives” to replace fossil fuels just isn’t practical or possible. You cannot fix a leak in a boat by scuttling the entire ship.

          • James Tidwell

            A very informative rebuttal of Jim Simpson

          • Jim Simpson

            Hi Jim. It is rather understandable that you feel frustrated that someone you respect has been criticized by someone with whom you disagree. However, the way you respond seems to indicate that you feel frustrated by all people who voice concern about the state of Earth’s natural systems and resources. Labelling such concern “alarmist” is not accurate however, as this type of concern is increasingly widespread and is shared by many who are not the stereotypical tree-hugging types that could be called naive. Nor are they attempting to impose cleaner energy on developing countries, as you suggest (though developing countries are adopting renewable energy on their own at quite a rate: Uruguay aims to generate 90 percent of its electricity from
            renewable sources by 2015, and Costa Rica maintained 100 percent
            renewable energy generation for the first 100 days of this year.). They are choosing to do it because they believe it to be prudent and possible. Here are just a few of the exponentially growing number of examples (that I myself come across daily) of those who trust the prevalent science and observed signs of global change:

            – The US military is quite ahead of the curve, including a recent revelation that they’ve got micro-grids that tie in renewables and batteries. http://wyomingpublicmedia.org/post/inside-energy-military-marches-forward-microgrids

            – Further, a recent US Army report of advocates plans for integrating “resource considerations and cost management” into the core of US Army decision-making processes, including “total life-cycle costs” and even “enhanced resource stewardship”. http://usarmy.vo.llnwd.net/e2/c/downloads/394128.pdf

            Why? Says the report: “Trends of global significance, such as increased urbanization, rising populations, young adult unemployment, and a growing middle class that drive resource competition will also shape the Army’s future operating environment. Additionally, the effects of climate change, rapid technology proliferation, and shifts in centers of economic activity represent major forces of change. Global resource constraints will also undermine the integrity of the Army’s supply chain… Such diverse conditions compel the Army to foster a more resource-informed culture that supports decisions and behaviors across all levels, locations, and domains.”

            – New Zealand has just announced it’s going to leave viable coal reserves in the ground (giving up coal altogether within 3 years). And why not do so when their electricity generated from renewables is at a 20-year high, accounting for 79.9 percent of all electricity generated?

            – Denmark wants to be fully renewable energy run by 2030 (they were at 40% last year)

            – Regular people too (due to more “business case” reasons than “alarmism”):
            http://www.thenation.com/article/why-are-americans-switching-to-renewable-energy-because-its-actually-cheaper/

            Additionally, I wanted to bring examples of the impact of rising temperatures (regardless of whether anthropogenically caused or not) that, in my region and many others, are rational things to be concerned about: water supplies (endangered from low snow pack) and soil health/drought. All in question around here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/the-bad-news-for-western-drought-monster-hot-el-nino-on-the-way-1.3162146

            Perhaps that might help you imagine why some wish to make efforts to “decarbonize”, ie, scale back contributing CO2 into the atmosphere. It seems you don’t agree, however the physics of the greenhouse gas effect (https://www.aip.org/history/climate/co2.htm) are globally accepted, with the IPCC’s conclusions having been reviewed and endorsed by the national science academies of every major nation from the United States to China, along with leading scientific societies and a large majority of organizations that speak for a scientific consensus.

            However, if you just simply are not worried and choose to believe that the concern so many of us feel over the impacts of human behaviour (energy, land use, etc) is unfounded, then so be it. Might I suggest though, that when in discussion with those with whom you disagree on this topic, you might try to pause before lashing back and try to see any anger that might be directed at you for what it probably is: coming from a place of fear that their need for a secure and hopeful future is gravely at risk. You need not agree that it is indeed at risk: simply understand that he/she does believe it to be, and let her/his anger flow off your back, counting yourself lucky that you have no such fear. Unless your anger comes from another place? If so, identifying and sharing that might be very informative to those who label you and treat you angrily without considering what your needs are.

            It’s worth a try…

          • deja-view

            No, he doesn’t reject it. He proves that almost all of the so-called “settled science” and “overwhelming body of evidence” is not evidence at all, but merely opinions based on manipulated data. Epstein doesn’t deny the issues of fossil fuel use, he puts them in perspective of both the tremendous benefits to humanity, but also the past attempts to stifle growth, industrial development, human activity, technological progress, and even agricultural advances. He uses the words of these “eminent” scientists and activists/pundits to show how clearly wrong they have been for at least 50 years. I remember hearing all those doom and gloom predictions…over and over and over. We would all have been dead by 2010 at the latest if any of their garbage science was true. The conversation needs to be from BOTH sides, not the government/extremist manipulations.

  • Mark Bahner

    “But all the evidence shows that continuing with fossil fuels runs a very high risk of finishing us off altogether.”
    When a person writes something like this, I wonder whether he is even thinking about what is being written. There is a “high probability” of “finish us off altogether”? A high probability that global warming will literally cause the elimination of humans?

    • deja-view

      Which is part of Epstein’s point that all the doom and gloom predictions of the past (and there were many) were WRONG. Totally wrong. In fact, not even close by any measure. Alarming? Yes. Truthful and based on real science? NO.

  • Buzz Fledderjohn

    “A recent example heralding this hoped-for utopia – a solar-powered aircraft has made the news recently. That’s fine, provided the payload is restricted to about 300 pounds.”

    No one sees solar powered aircraft as the future. The Solar Impulse project is fun and fascinating, but even their engineers will tell you that’s not the direction of carbon-free air travel.

    The future for carbon-free air travel probably will be some form of superconductor electrics powered by hydrogen fuel cells. http://www.gizmag.com/go/7459/

  • trevormarr

    Actually, we simply need to continue increasing efficiency, continue reducing emissions responsibly, continue research into optimizing ALL forms of energy and using the best source of energy to suit the given need. The World needs ALL forms of energy, for health, safety, protection, production, construction, manufacture, transportation, pleasure, comfort, competition, growth and success, just to name a few. Build a better mousetrap and the market is yours! But market should be achieved by capability and value, not by Mandate. That makes the most sense for Humanity. That makes the most sense for Humans also!

    I have a far greater fear of adapting to life and climate without fossil fuels than I will ever fear any life with them!

    Any Government, if worth it’s salt, should be looking at issuing INCENTIVES to any Industry. The Industry tax will be ‘X’ amount, but if your Company increases Efficiency by a MEASURED % and reduces Emissions by a MEASURED %, then you get a scaled REDUCTION in your taxes! That way it shows commitment to the World, while keeping the Country successful with industry optimization, NOT elimination!

    The choice to support our World Class, ever optimizing Fossil Fuel Industry is up to the individual. Perhaps the Governments should simply issue two cards. #1 says ‘I support fossil fuels’, #2 says ‘I do not support fossil fuels’. You can only sign one! But in order to get gas at the pump, or propane for your BBQ, you MUST have a signed #1 card!

    That will weed out a large number of hypocrites in my opinion.

    I am pro human, not pro ‘anti human’ Socialist agenda!

  • Martha Ball

    Latest book and documentary.

    ‘The Deliberate Corruption of Climate Science’.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPzpPXuASY8

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPzpPXuASY8
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sO08Hhjes_0
    http://www.drtimball.com

    Debate between Dr Tim Ball and Elizabeth May
    Scroll down to Ian Jessop part 1
    http://www.cfax1070.com/Podcasts

  • FriendlyFire

    “Its premise is so ludicrous that normally I wouldn’t read it, never mind review it. There is no “moral case for fossil fuels”, just as there was no “moral case for slavery” in 1860.”

    Haha, your closed-mindedness *in advance* of reading the book – and your hysterical reference to slavery – ironically told me your review would not be worth reading.

    But thanks for posting his video from the demo – that was great. Those people really don’t realise that 95% of the things they take for granted are directly attributable to industrialisation and fossil fuels. Sweet irony.

    • How is the reference to slavery hysterical? It is quite an accurate comparison for those familiar with the history of economic development.

      • FriendlyFire

        Slavery enriched some while totally exploiting others. Fossil fuels have enabled industrialisation and thus enriched everyone who has been touched by it, dragging billions out of poverty. Only someone who takes all this for granted could make such a comparison. Like those marchers in the video who genuinely don’t seem to realise. that their ipad, their healthcare, their clothes all only exist thanks to industrialisation and fossil fuels.

        • The author of this post acknowledges the benefits humanity has seen from fossil fuels, so it appears that you haven’t even read the article? As for the video, you seem to see it as evidence of something, probably because you share Epstein’s bias. However to someone more objective there is nothing proven about the marchers POV on the benefits of fossil fuels from the clip shown: Epstein doesn’t attempt to engage in a dialogue with anyone, he simply stands there stating his own beliefs. I’ve not met many who would deny the enrichment fossil fuels have brought (maybe the odd hermit-type). However, the point you’re missing is that the people (such as those marchers) who wish to see an evolution away from fossil energy (to already available options that will not send anyone back to any cave-like situation) are further cognizant of how having healthy stable ecosystems is necessary to our ability to continue to rely on the natural resources (and food sources, such as the oceans) that fossil fuels helped us to exploit to aid in this enrichment.

  • Hugo Newman

    This is a demonstrably unfair review. Hopkins is repeatedly disingenuous. A considerable portion is ad hominem. But most importantly, each objection can be quite readily refuted (in fact, in most cases, the objections are already explicitly addressed in Epstein’s book, which leads me to believe that the reviewer probably didn’t complete the book and only skimmed those parts he felt confident he could reject summarily). Let me just run through each point in turn, although of course you can judge for yourself whether the review is fair if you do decide to read the book. But I hope you’ll consider what I say below as well.

    Ok, let’s start with the first rather outrageous statement, which sets the tone: “Its premise is so ludicrous that normally I wouldn’t read it, never mind review it. There is no “moral case for fossil fuels”, just as there was no “moral case for slavery” in 1860”. First of all, there’s the obvious point that the “moral case for fossil fuels” is not the “premise” of the book. A transparently ridiculous and clumsy claim. Epstein spends 250 pages constructing his argument for the conclusion that fossil fuels are the morally superior energy choice at present, never once assumes that fossil fuels are morally superior to alternative energy sources, and acknowledges that he is making a controversial case from the outset and bears a heavy burden of proof. (The expressed attitude of the author is telling: “normally I wouldn’t read it”. Hardly an open-minded approach… But I’ll refrain from stooping to his level and questioning his character!) As for the “moral case for slavery” comparison. Well, that barely merits comment. But if anyone is begging the question here, clearly it’s Hopkins.

    “At other times he can be found, among other things, defending child labour or arguing that animals have no rights”. This is quite appallingly disingenuous, not to mention irrelevant. One would think based on this wording that Epstein celebrates the fact that children and parents in poor countries are so desperate as to feel compelled to have the children work too. If you follow the hyperlink—which let’s face it most readers won’t (and I expect the reviewer knows this)—what does Epstein actually say? “In Africa and all over the place there’s child labour constantly. And what’s the cause? The cause is that people are so desperately poor that it’s even harder to feed their children if they don’t work. This is why wealth has to be created [implication? Epstein wants to see the end of child labour. Clearly his argument with these Occupiers is about the means to that end, not the end itself, even if they completely miss this point]… We say child labour is evil. Ya. Child labour is evil in the modern context thanks to what capitalism and industry have achieved. But historically it was necessary”. If I say something is a “necessary evil”, is that a ringing endorsement? Am I celebrating the necessity? Of course not. But it’s clear that the reviewer has no interest in conveying this nuance, and is happy to let the strawman, villainous characterisation of Epstein prevail (not to mention the utter irrelevance and ad hominem nature of this digression). The second hyperlink, re: animal rights, seems to be broken, so I searched myself. Here’s an article by Epstein addressing animal rights (http://capitalismmagazine.com/2005/08/the-animal-rights-movements-cruelty-to-humans/), and here’s a pertinent excerpt: “No sane person seeks to inflict needless pain on animals. Such practices, where they exist, should be condemned. But anyone concerned for human life must unequivocally endorse the rightness of using animals in medical research”. Now I’m not going to defend the latter claim, clearly it’s controversial. And admittedly, I’m agnostic and on fairly shaky ground philosophically on the question of whether animals have rights, strictly speaking, in the sense in which humans do. This is a controversial and difficult philosophical issue. And my and most sane people’s pre-theoretical presumption is in favour of some kind of objective moral status for animals. But how to cash that out legally is obviously a difficult question. Regardless, once again, the reviewer is clearly intent on giving the reader the sense that Epstein is a cold-hearted monster who hates animals (and children). Slightly at odds with someone who wants to see an end to child labour and who thinks that no sane person seeks to inflict needless pain on animals…

    “He’s a curious character”. Wonderful. Relevance?

    “He bemoans the fact that fossil fuel companies “have had to fight daily for permission to empower billions of people”. Try telling that to the communities in Ecuador affected by the oil spills for which Chevron was fined $19 billion, people in Richmond, California, who live in the shadow of the Chevron refinery that exploded in 2012, communities living near mountaintop removal coal plants, people living near fracking sites, or First Nations peoples living near the tar sands in Alberta”. Again, this is patently disingenuous. Firstly, the quotation is cut from a passage referring to a specific case, not a generalisation supposed to characterise the “industry” as uniformly victimised and without dirty hands. Here’s the quote in full: “In the United States, we have a place in Wyoming called the Powder River Basin, one of the greatest coals deposits of all time, mined with state-of-the-art mining technology that can extract more coal from a mine than ever before. But the participants in the project, such as Peabody Energy, have had to fight daily for permission to empower billions of people” (p. 192). Secondly, Epstein repeatedly acknowledges that fossil fuels have negative impacts, can cause and have caused pollution both at the point of use and point of extraction, and that we have to weigh these risks and costs in our assessment. He dedicates an entire chapter (Chapter 7: Reducing Risks and Side Effects) to this issue. And yet one would be led to believe, based on Hopkins review, that Epstein completely glosses over this point. Some relevant passages from Epstein’s book: “We do create risks and side effects that can be deadly, and we need to understand them in order to set policies that will maximise benefits while minimising risks…. Every time we use energy from fossil fuels (and from any other form of energy) we are engaging in a process that is filled with risk and that, if not managed properly, can become deadly. The process of producing energy can involve all manner of hazardous materials. For example, hydrofluoric acid, a vital material in certain kinds of oil drilling (and many kinds of mining), can literally travel through your skin and melt your bones” (p. 151); “As late as 1952, London experienced a massive air-pollution problem from a temperature inversion—a phenomenon that prevents particles from dissipating throughout the atmosphere and keeps them in dangerous, concentrated form. The particularly tragic 1952 inversion increased sulfur dioxide and soot concentrations all over the city, with a death toll estimated between four thousand and twelve thousand in a matter of weeks” (p. 158); “On Deepwater Horizon—the oil rig that exploded in 2010, killing eleven workers and causing the BP oil spill—the energy went out of control” (p. 158); “My view of the right approach is: Respect individual rights, including property rights. You have a right to your person and property, including the air and water around you. Past a certain point, it is illegal for anyone to affect you or your property” (p. 160); “One policy would be: People can pollute or endanger other individuals at will so long as they are viewed as benefitting “the common good”. This policy, encouraged by some businesses in the 19th century, is immoral” (p. 160). I hardly think this sounds like someone who is trying to sweep the fossil fuel industry’s real and potential risks under the rug! And note too that Epstein’s policy recommendations cover and prohibit precisely the cases flagged by Hopkins, who speaks as if rights-violating pollution is inherent or unique to the provision of fossil fuel energy (it’s NOT, and again, this is carefully argued for by Epstein in the book).

    Hopkins continues: “The rise of fossil fuel use… can hardly be said to have been without its side effects. To name but two, it has appallingly corrupted international politics and undermined democracy around the world. As Naomi Klein put it in This Changes Everything: ‘Fossil fuels really do create a hyper-stratified economy. It’s the nature of the resources that they are concentrated, and you need a huge amount of infrastructure to get them out and to transport them. And that lends itself to huge profits and they’re big enough that you can buy off politicians.” How many people in Nigeria, for example, dubbed the “world oil pollution capital” and where much of the wealth generated has been siphoned off through corruption, would argue that “fossil-fuelled development is the greatest benefactor our environment has ever known”? It is true that for many people (but by no means all) the fossil fuel age has brought great benefits”. Well ok, again, Epstein explicitly and repeatedly acknowledges that fossil fuel use is not without its side effects, covered above. But let’s look at the “undermining democracy” point. Again, Epstein has in other places repeatedly criticised cronyism and subsidies to the energy industry across the board (see, here for example, at 24:45 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2_PlEBNms4, where he scathingly criticises Hank Paulson for his cronyist track record. Or here at 1:45 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=et7QCk7VXHM. He is unambiguously against any and all subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, calling for fair competition amongst all sources of energy, and encouraging innovation and experimentation with all forms of energy). But there’s another fallacy implicit in the Klein quotation that is very common in the discussion of fossil fuels. One of the common claims of advocates of “green” energy (why I use scare quotes should be obvious to anyone familiar with the highly dangerous and pollution-generating mining necessary to produce solar and wind technologies, again covered by Epstein in the book) is that wind and solar can be and, according to some, already are, as economical, cost-effective and profitable as fossil fuels. But if that’s true (which, unfortunately for now, it’s not!), then why will the next generation green energy companies not be equally disposed to “undermining democracy” and “buying off politicians”? There’s this notion that somehow, the people involved in the oil industry are uniquely evil, cartoonish villains rubbing their greedy mits in anticipation of the next opportunity to trample the “little guy”, in virtue of the nature of the fuel. But if profitability is a proxy for this democracy-undermining dynamic, then why should we expect allegedly just-as-profitable green energy producers to be any better? And AGAIN, the Nigeria case is already covered by Epstein’s explicit condemnation of health-damaging pollution as a rights violation that ought to be prohibited!

    “Epstein’s argument is rather like staying with a psychotic and abusive partner because the first couple of months of the relationship were very lovely. Just because the first half of the oil age enabled some remarkable things does not mean logically that therefore the second half will be the same”. This one is a humdinger! Firstly, it gets things backwards. The beginning of the fossil fuel period was, because of rudimentary technology and lack of adequate filtering etc, the cause of considerable pollution-related health risks. Throughout the 20th century, there were consistent improvements in the technology that vastly improved safety and radically reduced the rate and intensity of air and water pollution (documented in Epstein’s book). Things have gotten systematically better and better along every dimension for the members of societies that have been using fossil fuels for a long time. Of course the implication the reviewer is making is that the “second half” will be much worse than the first half primarily because of climate-related dangers. Again, the reviewer conspicuously omits a data set central to Epstein’s case in this respect—namely, that showing that global climate-related deaths have radically and steadily declined, both in relative and absolute terms, since significant CO2 emissions began: “In the decade from 2004 to 2013, worldwide climate-related deaths (including droughts, floods, extreme temperatures, wildfires and storms) plummeted to a level 88.6 percent below that of the peak decade, 1930 to 1939. The year 2013, with 29,404 reported deaths, had 99.4 percent fewer climate-related deaths than the historic record year of 1932, which had 5,073,283 deaths for the same category… All things being equal, one would expect the total number of deaths from these events to go up in proportion to population—and if catastrophic climate change were true, we should see a massive recent uptick, not 29,404 deaths in 2013” (p. 120-121). Epstein’s scepticism about catastrophic climate change projections is surely understandable in light of these trends, and at least warrants being addressed by the reviewer. Granted, this erstwhile trend will be irrelevant if we can expect runaway warming and overwhelming catastrophic events. Which I come to below. Nevertheless, to characterise humanity’s relationship with fossil fuels as inherently “psychotic and abusive” from the outset is totally misguided.

    “Epstein does this by several sleights of hand. The first is by dismissing climate change. His argument is only logical, or even possible, if climate change isn’t an issue”. One might reasonably think that Epstein simply rejects “climate change” outright based on this statement. Well, no. He dedicates two chapters to dealing with the climate change issue. He accepts the “consensus” view that the world is warming, that CO2 has a greenhouse effect, that mankind is partly responsible for this warming trend through greenhouse gas emissions, and that this will have some negative impacts in parts of the world. Hardly a sign that he thinks it “isn’t an issue”.

    “He wheels out lots of the rather tired and unfounded sceptic myths, such as: Myth #1: CO2 is a “plant food with a fertilising impact”—A ridiculous argument; plants need much more than just CO2. They need water (availability of which reduces as temperatures rise) and other minerals and, er, soil. The fact that plants in a greenhouse grow better when some CO2 is added, doesn’t scale up to the planet as a whole. For example, plants exposed to more CO2 can be more vulnerable to pests, and reduces the quality of crops”.

    Well, it’s neither ridiculous nor an argument. It’s a statement. And it’s an uncontroversial statement at that! This is something you learn in secondary school biology. The fact that “plants need more than just CO2” is of course true. But how on earth does the claim that “CO2 is a plant food with a fertilising impact” imply that this is all a plant needs!? It doesn’t, clearly. And the reviewer surely knows this, but just couldn’t resist a cheap shot. “And, er, soil”. Yes. AGAIN, what in the statement “CO2 is a plant food with a fertilising impact” implies that plants don’t also need soil? This is so silly as to beggar belief. But let’s get to the more substantive point at the end. “Plants exposed to more CO2 can be more vulnerable to pests”. Looking at the article, we see that this was a study of “soybean plants”, and that increased CO2 levels weakened these plants’ defenses against adult Japanese beetles and western corn rootworms. Well ok, not clear that these adverse effects will compromise all plant/crop breeds in the same way and to the same extent. But even if they do, how does this falsify the original statement? Of course, the point is that the insect vulnerability might cancel out any growth benefits from CO2. But what’s the answer then? Must it be to avoid higher levels of CO2? Why not rather adapt and research more effective ways of preventing the insects from feeding on the greener, larger plants?

    “Myth #2: You can’t rely on climate models—Epstein argues that the case for climate change rests largely on climate models, of which he writes “those models have failed to make accurate predictions – not just a little, but completely”. But a recent study has shown that actually climate models have been very accurate, and actually can be more conservative than what is actually unfolding”. Unfortunately again, the hyperlink to the “recent study” Hopkins references seems broken, redirecting to the link on crop quality in the previous section. And I’m not sure which study he’s referring to. But anyway, his characterisation of Epstein’s position is, again, totally disingenuous and unfairly simplified. Consider the quote from Epstein mentioned above. Once more, rather brazenly, this quote is cropped out of a longer statement which refers to a very specific subset of models and significantly changes the whole import of Epstein’s statement. Here’s the full context: “[I]f you press any climate scientist… he will explain (or admit) to you that there is nothing resembling absolute certainty about these large positive feedback loops and the predictions associated with them. This is called the problem of determining climate sensitivity; how much warming, in practice, in the full complexity of the atmosphere, does x amount of CO2 cause? How strong a driver of climate is CO2? Those who speculate that CO2 is a major driver of climate have, to their credit, made predictions based on computer models that reflect their view of how the climate works. But fatally, those models have failed to make accurate predictions – not just a little, but completely” (p. 99-100). Epstein is plainly not claiming that all climate models fail, nor does he make the stupid and clumsy argument that “the case for climate change [whatever that’s supposed to mean!] rests largely on climate models”. His issue is specifically with those that model a climate with high sensitivity and positive feedback loops, which subset has failed to predict climate! But the main overarching point is that the precise magnitude of climate sensitivity remains a matter of significant dispute among the experts, and that this issue is pivotal regarding whether warming will be catastrophic or mild and manageable.

    “Myth #3: There is no 97% consensus among climate scientists—But there is. Read more here”. When you follow this link, there’s a lot of information about how indeed a 97% of surveyed papers/paper authors (the number of the latter, incidentally, falls short of all climate scientists, and far short of “all scientists”!) in climate science agree “that human activity is very likely causing most of the current GW (anthropogenic global warming, or AGW)”. But notice how uncontroversial this consensus is! And how it does not even address the really fundamental questions morally and politically—namely, how dangerous that warming is and is likely to become! This is the main issue Epstein has with the 97% figure, and how it’s misappropriated. And he explicitly says as much: “The reason we care about recent global warming or climate change is not simply that human beings are allegedly the main cause. It’s the allegation that man-made warming will be extremely harmful to human life. The 97 percent claim says nothing whatsoever about magnitude or catastrophe. If we’re the main cause of the mild warming of the last century or so, that does not begin to resemble anything that would justify taking away our machine food” (p. 109). (Un)surprisingly, Hopkins again decides not to address this point, and just summarily links to information that skirts Epstein’s main objection.

    “Myth #4: Scientists in the 70s predicted global cooling, so what do they know?—Again, a rather tired and silly myth beloved of climate sceptics. Reality is that even in the 70s, when climate science was in its infancy, there were 6 times more scientists predicting global warming than global cooling, it’s just that the cooling folks got the memorable Newsweek covers. Over time, as the evidence built, the case for global warming became clearer and stronger until the consensus we see today.” You can probably guess at this stage, but Hopkins is again being disingenuous. The way he paraphrases this myth, one would think Epstein were making the crude and silly claim that because “scientists” made incorrect catastrophic predictions of global cooling in the 70s, we should disregard similarly catastrophic predictions of global warming in the present and not worry. Of course this is not what Epstein is claiming. His is the far more pedestrian, and I think reasonable, point that we should be suitably sceptical about predictions of apocalyptic catastrophe given the historical track record of such predictions, even where those emanated from authoritative bodies (“In 1975, the American Meteorological Society told Americans that the climate was cooling and that this meant worse weather: “Regardless of long term trends, such as the return of the Ice Age, unsettled weather conditions now appear more likely than those of the abnormally favourable period which ended in 1972” [p. 21]). And, as I understand him, predictions of apocalyptic catastrophe bear a high burden of proof. Which Epstein goes on to argue, scientists have as yet failed to do.

    I’ll address the remaining points in the next post, but really these are the most robust points, and the rest of the review I’m afraid to say follows much the same pattern.

  • Mcsandberg

    This book makes an excellent, well reasoned and sound case for fossil fuels. From chapter 1:

    I understand that a lot of smart people are predicting catastrophic consequences from using fossil fuels, I take that very seriously, and I have studied their predictions extensively.

    And what I have found is this: leading experts and the media have been making the exact same predictions for more than thirty years. As far back as the 1970s they predicted that if we did not dra- matically reduce fossil fuel use then, and use renewables instead, we would be experiencing catastrophe today—catastrophic resource depletion, catastrophic pollution, and catastrophic climate change. Instead, the exact opposite happened. Instead of using a lot less fos- sil fuel energy, we used a lot more—but instead of long-term catas- trophe, we have experienced dramatic, long-term improvement in every aspect of life, including environmental quality. The risks and

    side effects of using fossil fuels declined while the benefits—cheap, reliable energy and everything it brings—expanded to billions more people.

    When every single prediction by the warmists has been wrong for over 3 decades, when we can see the benefits of cheap power everywhere, it is time and past time to accept the truth that Mr. Epstein is speaking!

    Atlas Shrugged was supposed to be a warning, Not A Newspaper!

    Why is this waiting approval?