I’m debating Bill McKibben this November on the environmental impact of fossil fuels. Here is a preview.
99.9% of discussion of fossil fuels and our environment ignores the single most important fact about fossil fuels and our environment: fossil fuels have made our environment amazingly good.
The difference between a healthy environment and an unhealthy environment can be summed up in one word, and it’s not “CO2” or “climate” or “temperature.” It’s “development.”
Every region of the world, in its undeveloped state, is full of deadly environmental hazards such as indoor air pollution, bacteria-filled water, excessive cold, excessive heat, lack of rainfall, too much rainfall, powerful storms, disease-carrying insects, lack of sanitation, disease-carrying crops and animals, etc.
And yet some nations, such as the US, have the best air, water, indoor temperature, crops, sanitation, water supplies, storm-protection, disease-prevention, sanitation, and overall environmental quality in human history–while others are plagued by heat waves, cold snaps, drought, storms, crop failures, malaria and dozens of other dread diseases, filth, dung-burning fires, lack of clean drinking water.…
[Editor Note: This interview of Alex Epstein was conducted by Jordan McGillis, a graduate student at Seton Hall University. Mr. Epstein, a philosopher, has expanded the energy debate in recent years by adding a moral and interpretive dimension to classical energy-policy debates.]
1. It’s been objectively demonstrated that practices such as frac’ing produce abundant, affordable, and reliable energy, and yet, they are virulently resisted by much of the public. Why, despite the evidence of frac’ing’s value, is it, along with other productive practices, so loathed? Are there some underlying political or philosophical ideas at work here?
I think it’s important to make a distinction between the opposition of environmentalist leaders and the opposition of those duped by their claims. The vast majority of Americans would certainly embrace hydraulic fracturing if they understood what it did, how it works, and what the (remarkably small) risks are vs.
The closer that the Waxman-Markey energy planning bill gets to the floor of the House of Representatives, the more convoluted and intellectually absurd it becomes. The cap-and-trade provision is getting the most attention, but there is so much more that deserves criticism. Jerry Taylor, for example, has exposed the “Clean Energy Bank” provision (buried in Subtitle J) as an open-ended piggybank for uneconomic, politically correct energies.
As I blogged at the Enterprise Blog yesterday, a provision of HR 2454 would forbid EPA to proceed with a ruling about how foreign land-clearing would be taken into account when calculating ethanol’s carbon footprint. Instead, EPA is forced into a 5-year moratorium to “study” the issue. Amazing, EPA does an endangerment finding in a few months but has to “study” this single, relatively well-understood issue for 5 years.…