Serious Energy: Coal, Oil & Gas Deliver Warmth, Light & Power All Day, Every Day

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Coal, oil and gas, are truly modernising forces, lifting billions out of agrarian poverty – powering machines and driving industrialization. People called on fossil fuels, when they should be called hydrocarbon heroes.

Access to reliable electricity provide an escape route for the impoverished, and hope for a less miserable future.

Watch villagers in the Third World scrounging for twigs and dung to cook their meals over in an unlit hut, and you’ll soon understand why the world’s poorest are screaming for coal generated power and gas for heating and cooking.

Far from coal, oil and gas killing (as the eco-lunatics claim), that trio is all that stands between us and a grim and grinding form of poverty.

Alex Epstein lays out the truth about how coal, oil and gas continue to deliver warmth, light and power, all day, every day, for billions of people.

Fossils Fuels: The Big Picture
Prager U
Alex Epstein
18 April 2023

Should the world stop using fossil fuels—oil, coal, and natural gas? Or should we embrace them as an essential part of modern life? Alex Epstein explores these questions.


The world needs more fossil fuels—more oil, coal, and natural gas. Not less.

Does that sound crazy?

It’s actually not—not if you employ one common-sense principle.

It’s the same principle you use when you decide whether to take a prescription drug.

Carefully weigh the benefits and the negative side effects.

If the benefits of using fossil fuels outweigh the negative side effects, then we should keep using fossil fuels. If the negative side effects outweigh the benefits, then we should stop using fossil fuels as soon as possible.

Which is it?

It turns out that the benefits of fossil fuels far outweigh the negative side effects.

The reason that most so-called experts, including many climate scientists, are against fossil fuels is that they violate this principle. They ignore the benefits of fossil fuels while overstating their negative side effects.

To know the truth about the benefits and side effects of fossil fuels, you need to understand eight essential facts.

Fact One: Cost-effective energy is essential to human flourishing.

This is almost never discussed, but no one can dispute it.

Low-cost, reliable, versatile energy makes modern life possible. There’s a simple reason for this. Energy powers the machines that allow us to be productive and prosperous—from the combine harvesters that allow one farm worker to do the work of 1,000 to the incubators that save the lives of millions of premature babies. Everything depends on energy.

Thanks to the unprecedented availability of cost-effective energy—overwhelmingly fossil fuel energy—the world has never been a better place for human life. Life expectancy has risen sharply. And extreme poverty (those that earn less than $2 per day) has plummeted from 42% in 1980 to less than 10% today.

Fact Two: Billions of people are suffering and dying for lack of energy.

Most of us take cost-effective energy for granted. But much of the world doesn’t have that luxury.

Three billion individuals use less electricity per year than a typical American refrigerator. Most of them must use wood and animal dung to heat their homes and cook their food. To flourish, these people need far more energy.

Fact Three: Fossil fuels are uniquely cost-effective.

80% of the world’s energy comes from fossil fuels. And fossil fuel use is still growing. The reason: nothing else can provide billions of people in thousands of places with low-cost, reliable, versatile energy.

Unreliable solar and wind can’t come close. They only provide electricity, which is just 1/5 of the world’s energy use. And because solar and wind can go to near-zero at any time, they depend on 24/7 backup from reliable power plants—usually powered by fossil fuels.

Fact Four: Fossil fuel energy neutralizes climate danger.

Climate disaster deaths are down 98% over the last century. How did this happen? Much of the credit goes to fossil fuels. They power the machinery that helps us construct sturdy buildings, the heating and air conditioning systems that protect us from extreme temperatures, and the irrigation and transportation systems that alleviate drought.

Fact Five: Global warming has been mild and manageable.

While we’re told that the warming we’ve experienced is rapid and overwhelming, the world has warmed just 1° C, 2° F since widespread fossil fuel use and CO2 emissions began in the 1800s.

And because CO2 is actually plant food, more C02 has led to significant global greening. That means more trees, more plants, more food.

Fact Six: Warmer temperatures will save lives.

While the media portray a future devastated by heat-related death, the truth is that far more people die from cold than from heat.

Further, mainstream climate science says that warming will be concentrated in colder places (Northern latitudes), at colder times (at night), and during colder seasons.

This is good news. It means fewer people will die from cold in the coldest places.

Fact Seven: The “greenhouse effect” is a diminishing phenomenon.

As we’re so often told, the “greenhouse effect” means that the more CO2 in the atmosphere, the warmer the climate. But that’s not the full story.

As CO2 levels rise, warming slows down and levels off. This is mainstream climate science. But it’s rarely communicated to the general public because it contradicts the climate catastrophe narrative.

Fact Eight: Projected climate impacts can be managed with fossil fuels.

The most plausible threat of a warming climate is a rapid rise in sea levels because our coastal infrastructure was built around modern sea levels. But even extreme UN projections put that rise at 3 feet over the next hundred years.

That’s hardly something to panic over. A good part of the Netherlands is below sea level, including its international airport. The technology the Dutch use to keep the sea at bay is available to any country that needs it.

Let’s return to our original principle: carefully weigh the benefits and the negative side effects.

If we do this for fossil fuels, the balance is incredibly positive.

So do what you would do if fossil fuels were a prescription drug: take the pill.

I’m Alex Epstein, author of Fossil Future, for Prager University.
Prager U

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