Russ: Welcome back to the EnergyMakers show, brought to you by Comcast Business, built for business. My guest today; Alex Epstein, Author of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, expert on energy and industrial policy, founder and President of the Center for Industrial Progress, called the most original thinker of the year by political commentator John McLaughlin, and he has risen to prominence as the nation’s free market energy debater; promoting a philosophy that is anti-pollution but pro-development. Alex, welcome to the EnergyMakers show.
Alex: Hey, good to be here, Russ.
Russ: You bet. So tell us about your mission.
Alex: So, my company has a mission, but I really think of it as my own mission in life starting when I was 14 years old; with a background totally in math and science, hated politics, hated the humanities, and I saw people arguing one day and I thought, you know what, I’m going to use logic, and so we’re not just arguing like idiots, so that we can actually figure things out, and so since then for the last 21 years, I’ve been trying to think logically about issues that I think people think emotionally about or don’t think about at all. And about 10 years ago, I discovered this issue of fossil fuels and I thought the way we think about this, if we keep going with it, we’re going to starve our whole civilization of its lifeblood. So that got me really into this, and that’s the genesis of my book, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels.
Russ: Very interesting; that 14 years old you have this sort of plan, this is the way I’m going to think.
Alex: It wasn’t it was just this obsession. It, it just became, I obsess easily, and so I became obsessed with sort of logical thinking and then I became obsessed with this issue of energy and, sort of very hard to figure out. So, you this all this controversy and nothing ever makes sense and I keep always keep pushing myself until things make sense and it makes pretty good sense to me now.
Russ: Ok. Energy and fossil fuels became the argument at what age?
Alex: Oh, 26. Before then it was everything, I mean if you Google my name, I’ve written about every issue under the sun from foreign policy to antitrust to net neutrality, but this one issue, energy, became fascinating. I was studying the history of John D. Rockefeller and his antitrust case and what I really realized was energy was not like all the other industries because it’s the industry that powers all the other industries. And that just, that struck me as, if we get this one right, so many things go well, and if we get this one wrong, so many things go badly.
Russ: Well I love it that you’re championing the cause because, to a degree, that’s what we try to do here at the EnergyMakers show, but boy you take it head on. And, when you look at it, the so called environmental movement, and and the the catastrophe predictions are so overwhelming, I mean, of the other side, I mean; the President of the United States, uh everybody that’s liberal, uh the Pope, uh the millennials. You’re taking on a pretty big enemy, aren’t you?
Alex: Well, you sort of have to, in any swath of people that agrees with the view. So in this case it’s, it’s this kind of doomsday view that if civilization continues on its current course, it’s going to be a catastrophe. There are the sort of true believers and then there are the people who happen to believe it in a derivative way, but might be open to convincing, or if if the fundamental people get discredited, you know then sort of the other people will follow along, so they’re a trend. So the key is, who are the leaders of this? And these are people like Bill McKibben, like Paul Ehrlich, like John Holdren, who is Barack Obama’s lead science advisor. And their core belief about the world; and this is really important, is that our focus in life shouldn’t be maximizing human well-being, it should be minimizing our impact on the planet. So they want to save the planet from human beings. That that’s their ideal.
And my ideal; I consider myself a humanist philosophically, I want to improve the planet for human beings, and so the idea of a moral case for fossil fuels is, our focus shouldn’t be let’s not impact the world, it’s let’s impact it as positively as possible to maximize our well-being and if that’s your metric, then fossil fuels are great.
Russ: Your comment about them, about how they think about it, it reminds me of my favorite bumper sticker, ‘Save the planet, kill yourself.’ Right. So, in speaking of the people who you think might be open to it, do you think you reach them? I mean, we’re so polarized these days, uh, there’s so many people that the minute they know what side you are in an issue, if they’re on the opposite side they quit listening.
Alex: 100% people are reachable, but it’s important how the issue is framed and how you position yourself. Today, we often position ourselves by party or by industry. So, as somebody who is obsessed with logic, the field that I naturally went into, was philosophy but with that’s what I studied as an undergrad, but more more of that’s what I just studied on my own recreationally, professionally for you know 15, 20 years. And if you’re focused on philosophy, the real question is not what party you are but what is your goal? And I’d just tell people look, my goal is not fossil fuels, my goal is not solar, I don’t have those categories of goals. My goal is, I wanna maximize human well-being. I wanna make it as good as possible, and to reach that goal, I need to look at both the positives and the negatives of all the different options on the table. And if I position it that way it’s not that I’m a Republican or a Democrat; I’m a humanist. People are open to that.
And to just give you one example, I have offered copies of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels to students. So, I offered 1000 copies and many people think, oh, well no, students don’t want that right? They’re not going to accept it, and so we put up a website; still up, fossilfuels.co, and we asked people tell us why you want it. So, we got over 5000 requests before we had to stop advertising it, because couldn’t, uh, fulfill them. And these kids; just liberals, conservatives, whomever, they were really interested in the idea that there might be another way of thinking about this. People, people are uncomfortable, I think, with monolithic opinions, but it has to be, you have to be offering a different opinion and I think often that conservatives in the industry haven’t offered a different opinion; they’ve offered a watered down version of the same idea that fossil fuels are evil. They’ve just said, oh they’re a necessary evil. We need them for four years.
My view is, no, they are the state of the art. They are a superior good. We should keep using them as long as they’re the best.
Russ: Well I do care about your message going out to the other side, but your last point I agree with totally. It certainly seems like the the oil and gas companies and the service companies, uh could be presenting the attributes of their industry much better. They just, they seem, they seem to almost be gun-shy, to a degree.
Alex: Yeah, but it’s interesting. I think of this a little bit differently than they do because I go to companies often or I’ll speak or people will hear about my book and they’ll say, yeah why don’t we stand up for ourselves? And this sort of answer is, there’s not really an answer, it’s just, oh we didn’t think to stand up for ourselves. But when you don’t stand up for yourself there’s only one fundamental reason that you do not do so, and that is a lack of self-confidence, and a lack of self-confidence comes from a lack of moral clarity. The civil rights movement did not have professional communicators teaching them to stand up for themselves. They had moral clarity that they were right. When the coal miners demanded higher wages, they didn’t have communications professionals, they had moral clarity, but notice coal industry won’t fight for its very existence because it doesn’t have moral clarity about the issue.
So, what’s needed is the entire industry, from CEO to rig hand, needs to be educated on the value of their industry. They’ve never received that education. That education is not available in our schools, and understanding how to run a rig is not the same thing as understanding its moral significance and understanding what’s wrong with the people who say you are causing a climate catastrophe. You need to be educated, and one of the purposes of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels was to teach everyone the case they hadn’t heard, and the industry hasn’t heard it either.
Russ: OK, now, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels. We’ve already mentioned the book. What if we, right now, what if we had somebody that wants a copy of it? Where do they, where do they go, Amazon?
Alex: There’s this great site called Amazon.com (laughs). I mean, if you need more or you want more information, you go to moralcaseforfossilfuels.com, and then they can read the first chapter for free and they can buy a copy for a student if that, easy, books are easy to find. We’ve got modern technology, makes it easy.
Russ: Cool. Alright. So, you’re last subject, going back to the companies, the people and the business and stuff. We, we’ve heard, we make, we go to all the events. IHS CERAWeek, OTC and stuff, and it always, amazes me the number of CEOs that might get up and say, yeah, we we really have a problem. We have to reduce our CO2 emissions, I mean, it’s almost like I hear them not being, you know, willing to champion against the cause, but they almost feel like they are harming the earth.
Alex: Yeah, and notice they don’t see a moral downside in ennobling their opponents. Whereas the way I see it as, every action you take is either promoting your life as much as possible or it’s not, and that includes being detrimental. So if you, let’s say Shell, which has been very prominent about the goal should be to eliminate CO2 emissions and then they wanna drill in the Arctic, so obviously, complete hypocrites, but if they embrace that goal and they’re wrong and it’s wrong to disempower people, because every calorie of energy that you deprive someone of gives him less ability to improve his life using machines. That’s just a fact. So, if we deprive people, if we disempower them around the world, their lives will be worse off. People will suffer and die. So as a CE, but notice the CEOs feel totally safe conceding the high ground to the greens, and they feel nervous and skittish when they say, hey you know what? It’s actually good to produce fuel for the world.
And that means they don’t, again, they don’t have the clarity. It’s not a popular thing to say because nobody likes to be told you don’t really know why what you do is good, but you know I hope they, a lot of them have, but I hope that people take that seriously, the point that the only reason you don’t stand up for yourself is a lack of self-confidence, and that comes from a lack of moral clarity, which is ultimately a lack of intellectual clarity. So, I didn’t stand up for the fossil fuel industry when I didn’t believe it was good. Now, I go to New York, I’ve gone against 100,000 protestors as one person. People can see the video on YouTube.com/improvetheplanet. Why do I do that? Not because I’m such a courageous dude, and not even because I want to make a stink, but because when I see people assaulting my values and doing things, I know for a 100% will ruin lives, I have to stand up, and the CEOs will stand up as soon as they feel that, and some have started.
So I would just say they should start and they should realize that everyone in their industry needs an education and all of their friends outside the industry need education. So if you’re at a dinner table and somebody says, you’re evil, you don’t just excuse yourself or switch the subject to the Astros, right? No, you say, I believe that what I, I believe that what I do is good. I wouldn’t be doing it otherwise, and if you like The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, say look, I I I hope you take a look at this book because I find it really offensive that you’re saying what I do is evil. Anyone calls what I do evil, I do not, I do not change the subject to, you know, in my case it would be the Padres. You know, the closest baseball team to where, I live in Laguna Beach.
Russ: Right. Ok, a little bit about, you know the book and your humanist position on it. Do I, do I understand it correctly, you you never say in here, uh, that human beings uh are not changing the climate. You never say, you never say CO2 uh is not heating up the globe. Instead, you talk about all the value of fossil fuels and combating all kinds of weather difficulties and all types of issues. Help me understand that even more.
Alex: Well, there’s a, take an analogy that I think makes it pretty simple. Let’s say you’re talking about whether you should vaccinate, uh you’re children, right? and you’re making that decision and you hold the conference but it’s not on vaccinations, it’s just on vaccine side effects and you do, all you do is you have people with all kinds of theories; real or speculative about vaccine side effects, everything they do, some people say autism or whatever, and you don’t really distinguish, you just say, oh look at all these scientists they say vaccines have side effects and then somebody says, but I wanna vaccinate my kids, and you say, wait are you a vaccine side effect denier, Right? Are you doing it? You say no, wait a second, I I’m judging vaccines a whole so I look at both the positives and the side effects.
So, what they call climate change or what it’s better called climate influence, is a side effect or a potential side effect of burning a hydrocarbon, or a fossil fuel, because when you add oxygen to carbon you create carbon dioxide, fine. But that, that means you have to look at all the positives and then you have to look with precision and this is important. The question is not, do we influence climate, but what is the nature of that influence? Is it big? Is it small? Is it bad? Is it good? You can’t be prejudiced against it, and we all are prejudiced against, oh it’s if we impact it, it must be bad. But, you know everyone until this generation wanted climate to be warm; including in the 70s, when they were terrified of cooling. It’s not just that, there’s a lot of lessons there, but you know in the 80s Newt Gingrich has a book called, Window of Opportunity, where he talks about plans to heat up the earth in all sorts of mechan- and deliberately, because everyone wanted heat.
So, if you, if you look at the whole big picture, what you find out is that the positive impacts of fossil fuels are so great and the negative climate impacts are actually, if they exist, are undetectable because fossil fuels in development make us so safe from the climate. So, if you wanted to find a catastrophe you’d have to tally up how many people are dying from climate. When we do that we find since we started major CO2 emissions 80 years ago, 98% decline in your chance of dying from a climate related death. That means that, not only are all the other benefits, you know; food, clothing, shelter, everything you can imagine from fossil fuels, fossil fuels are essential if you want a safe climate. So, if we want people in India and Bangladesh to be safer from disasters, they better be burning a hell of a lot more fossil fuels than they are now.
We know we’ll get more plant growth from that; might be a little warmer that’s probably better, but even if it was worse it doesn’t matter. What matters is having energy to improve your life and so if you, if you are an energy denier, which that’s the other side, right? There’s no climate denier I don’t deny the existence, there is an energy denier. If you deny people energy, you are denying them every value in life including safety from the climate. I regard that as proven, so it’s true the debate is over, it was page 140 in my book.
Russ: Alight. Cool, really cool. So, so you you do say we we probably are changing the climate.
Alex: Everything changes, this is important. Every organism on earth changes climate in some way. Right. You you use a solar panel. You are changing the atmo-no it’s important though, because there’s not a question of, are we changing? The question is what is the impact on human life? I’m a humanist, so I don’t think change is wrong. And, ultimately, wouldn’t we like to be able to stop hurricane Katrina? Wouldn’t we be able to stop hurricanes hitting? We change the human climate all the time; the room we’re in, you know this is Houston. This is insane being outside here for more than 10 minutes but so, we already engage in quote, ‘climate change’ as a necessity of life. So there’s no question, it’s not like a new thing for us to impact climate. Every city impacts climate, every engine. There’s a question of the magnitude and is it good or bad?
And we need to have those precise discussions, and my whole mission, being logical, is we’re not, it’s not logical to talk about something absent of magnitude. It’s not its not logical to talk about a negative without looking at the positive, and the reason that we’re thinking about it so irrationally, is not that Bill McKibben and Paul Ehrlich and all these guys are, forgot how to look at the positive, it’s they don’t care about the positive for human life because their goal is not to impact the planet, it’s not to benefit human wellbeing.
Russ: Right, but what about the magnitude? I mean, when you listen to the catastrophists, I mean they say the magnitude is such that, and I know they’ve been saying it for a long time, but that 10 years from now, you know the Miami’s going to be under water you know all that stuff
Alex: Well at least, so so right. So there’s a whole interesting issue of, in discovering magnitude. We need, one thing we need to have a proper way of thinking about is experts. Because we need experts in society. There’s this false alternative of, oh, either we bow to the consensus and we just, the media tells us 97% believe and we agree, or we ignore them. And it, that’s not the way to think about it. You just, experts are great but you need to be able to process their knowledge because you have to know, if people say 97%, you need to know, is that true? And most importantly, what are their reasons? So, in chapter 4 of the book, I, cause this took me forever to figure out, cause nobody really tells you how to think about it, what I look at is, with the greenhouse effect what is the greenhouse effect? What is it? And why do people disagree about it? And it turns out the greenhouse effect is what’s called a logarithmic effect.
So, it means every new molecule of CO2 you put in the atmosphere warms it less than the old one. So, it’s sorta like when you get to, if you press down on the gas pedal on your car, at a certain point the more gas you use it’s not giving you that much more, exactly, so it’s a logarithmic effect so it turns out what what you would predict in a lab is that the greenhouse effect would lead to a very mild amount of warming which is what we’ve experienced. 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit in the last 150 years and almost half of that was before significant CO2 emissions. Now what’s happened though, is there’s another theory, and people can go to the book to look at it but it it involves somehow the logarithmic effect combines with other things and then it becomes this dramatic exponential effect. Ok, so then the question is, how would you validate that?
And the way that you would validate that is you would, once this this idea came out 34 year ago, you would make models that are based on that understanding of CO2s role in the atmosphere. That that can’t be shown in a lab but you say it works in the atmosphere and then you predict how warm is it going to get? And every time they have done that it’s been a miserable failure. So they say, oh the gre-cause the, I mean the, you can see the graphs but it’s like, this is how it goes, and this is this is what they predict. So, there’s no evidence for that theory. What there’s evidence for is the greenhouse effect but that cou-is a completely counter to catastrophic global warming. So there’s a tremendous amount of dishonesty and the philosophy is called the fallacy of equivocation where you equate the greenhouse effect warming with catastrophic global warming, and and they’re not the same.
Russ: Ok. There’s always been the talk about the debate. The President’s been saying the debates over. Uh, we’ve always said there hasn’t been a debate.
Alex: The debate, he doesn’t even say what is the debate about.
Russ: Right, he doesn’t, he doesn’t. But you’re the only person I know that’s had several debates. How many have you been in now, that are-
Alex: I think 4. I sometimes lose count. But it’s, but it’s been a little while. The last guy I debated was the guy, it was very satisfying, the head of The Beyond Coal campaign from the Sierra Club, a guy named named Bruce Nilles, and this guy actually recently went on Twitter and somebody said, Alex why are you saying these things? And Bruce says, obviously because he’s been paid off, and I said, Bruce that’s really interesting. First of all, you ever you should watch our debate and see what you think about, you know, whose right. But, second of all, he got paid, the Sierra Club got paid 26 million dollars by the natural gas industry to oppose coal. There’s all this in fighting in the industry. So, this guy is actually a shill for big, uh, for big gas. But anyway, I hope people you can check those out at YouTube.com/improvetheplanet, and I think there’s something to learn from them.
I love it in part because it’s hard to do and you learn so much preparing and you learn so much during it, because there, these guys are not nice. I mean, they’re not nice and and their views are the mainstream views. So, it’s not like we’re on equal footing. It’s, I have to make a case, but that’s in the nature if you’re a minority viewpoint. It’s, you have to explain it 10 times as well as the opposition. So, even, like with my debate with McKibben, I think I made lots of good points and I think he failed to address my fundamental point, but I learned so much after that debate and a lot of, I have to sort of thank Bill because, like, he’s just completely destroyed in the book. Um, and and it, so its its I wouldn’t recommend that people do debates, but uh, if anyone can set up a debate with Al Gore, I’ll pay whatever you want.
Russ: Alright, great. Well, I watched the McKibben debate, and uh, boy it was intense. I mean, it was just you know, they turned the camera on, there was no editing, and there was attack, there were periods where it seemed like maybe both of you ignored what the guy said last time because maybe that’s supposed to be part of the debate but he’s the guy that claims that we have to lower CO2 emissions, you know, 60-90% in a very short period of time, and doesn’t he acknowledge we’ll start dying if that was to happen? I mean we can’t eat, you know, without fossil fuels.
Alex: Well, he doesn’t but if you look at lot of people who’ve done really bad things throughout history; so you look at the socialists in the 20th century, who just completely destroyed multiple countries, you know, socialism, communism is a subset of socialism, and they had all these ideas about, oh it’ll be totally ok when we destroy the institution of private property, you know, the state will wither away. Yeah it will require some dictatorship at first, but then it’ll all be even better and you’ll all free somehow even when you’re, blah blah blah blah. And a philosopher I knew once commented to me, you know the socialists have always been very clear on what they want to destroy and not very clear on what they want to create. So, Bill is very clear, and and others like him, is very clear that he hates fossil fuels, and if you read his writing he hates industrial civiliz-he really hates human beings in a fundamental way.
No, I mean really, it’s just oozing from from his books and from his personality. He doesn’t really think that you’re gonna use sunshine and wind gusts in some magical way that, everyone knows they’ve been claiming the same things for 40 years. Everyone knows the same bas-not everyone, but um, the intellectuals know that solar and wind are very dilute sources, which means you need lots of resources to concentrate them, and more importantly, they’re intermittent sources which means they’re unreliable and you need to somehow store them. Whereas fossil fuels, nuclear, and hydra; the three sources that they oppose, two of those which emit no CO2, which reveals they’re antidevelopment not anti-fossil fuel. Those are great because they’re concentrated, plentiful and stored. So, we don’t need, we don’t need to concentrate them with lots of resources, they come pre-concentrated.
We don’t need to store them because they come pre-stored, and there’s tons of them, so it this whole green energy thing is not a serious attempt at at improving human life. The way you make a serious attempt at proving, at improving human life is you introduce a new product on the market. That’s the only way of doing it. And I haven’t seen, you know, the Bill McKibben home energy system that’s gonna save me a lot of money.
Russ: Great. You talk a lot about, in here about resource creation. Explain that to us.
Alex: Yeah, this is not a concept that that people are familiar with, and so I like to ask the question. Especially if I’m speaking or talking to somebody, I’ll ask, especially in the oil industry. Is oil a valuable natural resource? And I’ll say this is a trick question. And, who says yes? Everyone raises their hand, except maybe one, and who who doesn’t think it’s a valuable natural resource? And I raise my hand and I’m like, what is, what is this? Uh, and I’ll say, well 200 years ago, was oil a resource? So, a resource is something that’s available to benefit from. The answer is no. It was an annoyance if you were drilling for salt water, right. It was sort of a fake, a phony medical cure. So people could use it for scams and stuff. But it was it was often, you know, just a nuisance and certainly wasn’t valuable. So, you can ask not just, and so, the same thing is true with gas, right?
Gas is something that killed you when you were exploring for oil, and then you know, coal was, you know coal was produced. They used a little bit for water filtration, but primarily, not not valuable, but also aluminum. So, if you start looking at, aluminum was, is one of the most prevalent metal elements in the in the in the earth, but we didn’t have the technology and the energy to get any value, so it wasn’t a resource. These so called natural resources, they’re not natural, they’re not naturally resources, so they’re better thought of as raw materials, that we then transform or manufacture into resources. And if you get that distinction you realize, and there’s a great economist, George Riesman, whom I learned this point from; the whole earth is a ball of potential resources because all the world is, is raw materials, raw matter, raw energy.
So, there’s no there’s no theoretical limit to the number of resources that we have because the resources aren’t taken from nature, they’re created from nature. And, we, there’s no limit to the number of atoms that we have in any, you know any practical way. Uh, so that should give you a really optimistic perspective on the world, and it should give you a very pro-freedom perspective, and a very a very strong aversion to anybody who says, let’s stop using, let’s let’s let’s stop using this because we may, quote, ‘run out.’ No, you’re in a progressive society, it’s the opposite of sustainable where you repeat everything over and over. You find better and better ways of doing things. You create new resources, usually far before you’re anywhere near of running out of the old ones.
Russ: Ok, and that sort of addresses your point that we’re not running out, we you know we had all of these people following the energy crisis and then the shale thing. Well, what makes-
Alex: Despite, despite the best efforts of our President.
Russ: Yeah, yeah. It saved him, so-
Alex: I wanted to say this too I make the point, you know, it’s like they slipped one past the goal. He didn’t know about the revolution. So, he couldn’t stop it, but if, you know, that how sad is that with our political state of affairs that our prosperity depends on our politicians not knowing about the promising technology.
Russ: Right, right. Well, not only that but I mean, if you look at the geo-political implications of what happened, I mean, the sanctions against Iran that fell under the table, we wouldn’t have done if we didn’t have the shale oil productions. We wouldn’t have been able to. The, the global market would have gone skydiving
Alex: Yeah, I’m not going to consider any of the Iran policies any kind of success.
Russ: I’m not either but the sanctions were, I think. You know, so we couldn’t have done it without the shale revolution. But talk to now, talk about about climate mastery, which you also mentioned.
Alex: Yeah, this is something something I alluded to before and it’s sort of a one sentence way of putting it as we don’t, as human beings, we don’t take a safe climate and make it dangerous. We take a dangerous climate and make it safe. If you think about that, it’s sort of obvious, but it counters our whole discussion. So, we think of we think of climate, we’re taught to think of it as this perfect thing that we should be preserving, again it’s, save the planet from human beings as opposed to save, quote ‘the climate’ from human, as if the climate is a living being. No the climate is just all these swirl of atmospheric forces that is indifferent to us and is often incredibly dangerous, and is in some ways favorable, and what we need to do is we need to master it. We need to harness as many of the favorable forces as possible, and protect ourselves from as many of the harmful forces
Russ: And that’s what you were talking about when you talked about fossil fuels allow this to be safe from it. It’s why deaths from climate catastrophes are way down.
Alex: Yeah, and so where I live, for example, um in in Orange County, California is almost a desert I live right near the beach and thanks to human ingenuity. But, but you think about what happens if we cut off, I know what happens if we cut off the industry, if we cut off the development, if we cut off the energy, I cannot live there. So, I can go to the beach three times a day, I can have fun and go out into the sun, all this stuff, but it’s completely dependent on us manipulating our environment and mastering our climate.
You know, where we are in Houston is perhaps an even more obvious example because, you know, people would just be dying all the time of heat stroke, and yet if you look around the world, or around the US, the places with the fewest heat and cold related deaths, the fewest heat related deaths, are the hottest places. And that’s because people just pay a little bit more attention and with technology they can stop it. So, it’s, the goal is not to not impact the climate.
The only way to do that is to die, cause you’re always impacting the climate no matter what. The goal is to master it, and that includes looking out, are we, if we were causing runaway global warming, that we need to investigate that, but that investigation has proved no. So, it’s time to stop obsessing about fractions of a degree and it’s time to start obsessing about, let’s empower people to improve their lives.
Russ: Really cool. Well, before I let you go you and I were talking before the interview about one of our favorite guests on the EnergyMakers show, Dr. Caleb Rossiter, and great interview, and I think about it when on this last topic that there is this thing called energy poverty. You know, and if you look around the world, places that don’t use fossil fuels; the life expectancy, the health, all of that is down. It just almost seems immoral not to allow them to have fossil fuels.
Alex: Well it’s immoral to allow anyone to not have fossil fuels, but more importantly, it’s immoral to prevent people from having the best forms of energy. It’s important that, I talk about Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, that’s not against other forms of energy. That’s for a right to use fossil fuels because they are a great source uh, of energy. So, it’s the same thing as the right to use nuclear, the right to use hydra but it is important that this technology, and it is a technology. The fossil fuels themselves are useless. They’re not fuels, right? It’s just fossil material and we turn them into fuels. These are the state of the art fuels. These are the things that can be produced most cheaply, most reliably, most plentifully, on a scale of billions of people. So, the people who will suffer most when you disempower them, are the poorest people.
3 billion people in the world have next to no electricity, like next to no electricity, and notice how how little people seem to care about that.
You go around, even this hotel in Houston, you ask them about energy poverty and they’ll go, what? But you ask them about climate change, oh we gotta stop it. They’re not doing anything about it, but but, so it’s not, it’s a phony problem and it’s like a cocktail party problem. It’s a, it’s a problem that you say you’re concerned about so that you feel good about yourself, uh, at a cocktail party. But even look at the CEOs. I mean, I’d ask the CEOs, how much time do you actually spend in your life? Some of them do, I but thinking about who doesn’t have your product, because that’s really your purpose. Your purpose is to empower people and part of, if you look at John. D. Rockefeller, he talked about, you know, the poor man must have his oil and it must be good. And so he realized what it meant to empower a new person with light, who didn’t have light before. And if you get the morality of your industry, that’s what you’re gonna be thinking about.
You’re not gonna be thinking about, Oh, I better say something about climate change at CERA. Like, shut up about that, I mean, I don’t wanna, hopefully next year I’ll actually debate someone at that place because it’s the moral priorities are, but it’s important that energy poverty, and Dr. Rossier’s work is great, that you, it shows how inverted our priorities are and that just goes back to my core point which is, is your goal to maximize human well-being? If so, you care about energy poverty and fossil fuels, or, is it to minimize human impact? Then you’re gonna be obsessed with tenths of a degree and feel guilty for living. So, I’m a humanist, I wanna maximize human well-being. I hope everyone else does too.
Russ: Alex, I really appreciate-
Alex: Thanks so much, Russ.
Russ: Thanks a lot. And that wraps up my discussion with Alex Epstein, and this is the EnergyMakers show, brought to you by Comcast Business, built for business.
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