by Alex Epstein
More from Alex Epstein
For energy to be useful, it must be cheap, plentiful, and reliable, and to be cheap, plentiful, and reliable, every element of the process to create energy must also be cheap, plentiful, and reliable. We see how this can be difficult to achieve with some alternative energy sources, such as solar.
It’s important to know this because if somebody tells you “Let’s replace the way we currently produce energy with this other way,” you have to be able to evaluate whether or not the process is really viable.
Fossil fuels: cheap, plentiful, reliable energy for billions
The subject of this email is that the hydrocarbon, or fossil fuel, industry is the only industry that can produce cheap, plentiful, reliable energy on a scale of billions. That means that without such an industry, we don’t have the amount of food we need, the amount of technology we want, the amount of anything we need or want.
The first thing to realize is that the vast majority of the world’s energy is in fact produced by the hydrocarbon industry. This was true back in 1980, and it’s also true in the present.
As you can see, there’s much more overall energy consumption now and the vast majority of that is still fossil fuel energy. What that means is that we’re using considerably more fossil fuels, not less.
Why? The reason is that the hydrocarbon industry has developed a highly resource efficient process to find, extract, and harness a naturally concentrated, plentiful, and stored source of energy. It’s the only industry that has come up with a process that is cheap, plentiful, and reliable.
To understand why that is, it’s important to understand what fossil fuels are and how to explain it to someone who doesn’t work in the fossil fuel energy. We’ll take that up next week.
About Alex Epstein
Alex Epstein is a philosopher who argues that “human flourishing” should be the guiding principle of industrial and environmental progress.
He founded Center for Industrial Progress (CIP) in 2011 to offer a positive, pro-human alternative to the Green movement.
Epstein is the author of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels (Penguin, 2014), a New York Times bestseller arguing that if we look at the whole picture, human flourishing requires that humanity use more fossil fuels not less. (WSJ review here.) The book has been widely praised as the most persuasive argument ever made for our continuing use of fossil fuels, winning Epstein the “Most Original Thinker of 2014” award from The McLaughlin Group.
Epstein, known for his willingness to debate anyone, anytime, has publicly debated leading environmentalist organizations such Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and 350.org over the morality of fossil fuel use.
If you’re interested in having Alex Epstein speak to your audiences, you can learn more here.