“The only person who can truly persuade you is yourself. You must turn the issues over in your mind at leisure, consider the many arguments, let them simmer, and after a long time turn your preferences into convictions.”
– Milton and Rose Friedman, Free to Choose (1979), p. xii.
I have fruitfully engaged in debates regarding energy and climate on social media, some on Facebook and most at LinkedIn. I comment on views I agree with to add insight. But I commonly engage with my intellectual foes, some of whom are quite confident they have the science on their side and share links to prove it.
I learn, while noting the areas of disagreement and why. I remain persuaded that the climate crusade is wasteful and futile–and wealth-is-health entrepreneurship is the way forward, whatever the weather and climate of the future.
The best compliment I have received is “you are certainly tenacious.” I do present a set of arguments that cannot be refuted easily. In many cases, this is where my opponents resort to ad hominem, name-calling, or worst.
But for the most part, civility reigns.
It important to be polite but firm. Acknowledge a different argument or new data. Thank you even for bringing it to your attention if it is important enough. There is a lot of emotion and ego at stake. And when an opponent goes low, call him out and then get right back to the arguments.
In all this effort (it has been significant), I believe I have planted some seeds for a rethink later on where the person, to quote Milton and Rose Friedman above, takes it in for future decision-making.
My online encounters link to these posts I have written recently:
On the electricity emergency orders/blackouts (‘greenouts’), I link my two worldview pieces
as well as approximately 25 (and counting) posts at MasterResource.
And for historical context, The Political Rise and Economic Fall of Renewable Energy (TPPF: 2018)
Strategy … and Findings
Positive, upbeat themes take my opponents by surprise. After all, they are fearful and discouraged about the future. I emphasize:
I also ask the hard questions in a way that puts the Malthusians on the defensive:
In these exchanges, I use terms and phrases to land my points. They include:
Climate Debate Point
One argument I have employed on climate change (from Richard Lindzen) is that one can cross the street and not notice the temperature increase that the world has gone through since the 1970s. Yet the alarmists are saying that nature cannot deal with it in a half-century of such gradual change.
I’d make this point at the beginning of a debate to win it.
I find myself using these quotations.
“The greenest fuels are the ones that contain the most energy per pound of material than must be mined, trucked, pumped, piped, and burnt. [In contrast], extracting comparable amounts of energy from the surface would entail truly monstrous environmental disruption…. The greenest possible strategy is to mine and to bury, to fly and to tunnel, to search high and low, where the life mostly isn’t, and so to leave the edge, the space in the middle, living and green.”
– Peter Huber, Hard Green: Saving the Environment from the Environmentalists (New York: Basic Books, 1999), pp. 105, 108.
and this from energy’s first philosopher, Alex Epstein:
“The popular climate discussion … looks at man as a destructive force for climate livability … because we use fossil fuels. In fact, the truth is the exact opposite; we don’t take a safe climate and make it dangerous; we take a dangerous climate and make it safe. High-energy civilization, not climate, is the driver of climate livability.”
– Alex Epstein, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, pp. 126–127.
And from Daniel Yergin (The New Map, p. 422):
“As they grow, wind and solar and EVs will need ‘big shovels’ to meet their increasing call on mined minerals and land itself. It is estimated that an onshore wind turbine requires fifteen hundred tons of iron, twenty-five hundred tons of concrete, and forty-five tons of plastic. About half a million pounds of raw materials have to be mined and processed to make a battery for an electric car.”
And who can not recite the wisdom of the father of energy economics, William Stanley Jevons, who wrote in 1865:
“[T]he economy of power … consists in withdrawing and using our small fraction of force in a happy mode and moment.”
“The first great requisite of motive power is, that it shall be wholly at our command, to be exerted when, and where, and in what degree we desire. The wind, for instance, as a direct motive power, is wholly inapplicable to a system of machine labour, for during a calm season the whole business of the country would be thrown out of gear.”
– W. S. Jevons, The Coal Question, p. 122.