Fossil energy has indisputably delivered enormous benefits to society.
Industrialization, fueled largely by coal, gas, and oil, has indeed brought with it advances in health, higher standards of living, and tremendous social progress (even if not every ounce of that progress can be attributed directly to fossil energy).
And we continue to be hugely dependent on the fossil fuel industry for our quality of life. Much of the developed world relies predominantly on fossil fuels for transportation, and in the production of food, clothing, and many other goods and services. Countries like China, India, Brazil, and South Africa have fueled their rise overwhelmingly with fossil energy, and the ensuing economic growth has lifted millions of people out of poverty.
“there are very good reasons to think that fossil energy will be critical to the global economy for decades to come. World energy demand is projected to double by 2040 as the developing world industrializes, and even the aggressive pursuit of low-carbon alternatives and energy efficiency will take time. Barring major political disruptions and granting inevitable price volatility, fossil fuels remain reliable, and they are more plentiful than ever thanks to the shale revolution. Indeed, the United States appears to be a new energy superpower, which many observers see as having salutary national security benefits, at least in the short term.142 And certainly, fossil energy does seem relatively cheap compared to the alternatives for now (although the gap might shrink somewhat if externalities were fully accounted for). In any event, the world cannot suddenly abandon the multi-trillion dollar global infrastructure already in place to extract, process, transport, and combust fossil energy. And at least thus far, governments are only slowly reacting to the threat of climate change. Still, these are contingent facts, not moral arguments.”
“Epstein is right about one thing: global energy policy going forward must be concerned about human flourishing. But he is wrong that this inevitably must mean fossil fuels and only fossil fuels, forever. The real moral imperative, for serious people and serious energy companies alike, will be how to power the world reliably, affordably, and sustainably for the foreseeable future and beyond.”