Fossil Fuels Work. Footsteps, Hazelnuts, and Wind Energy Don’t: Alex Epstein’s Writings Through the Moral Case Release

As he said in a recent newsletter update, Alex has been “writing up a storm” since the weeks prior to the release of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels. You’ve probably read several of the articles already as we’ve shared them around piece-by-piece. But you’ve also probably missed at least some, so much like with his People’s Climate March Counter-Protest, I put together an overview of this work getting us “the moral high ground in the debate over fossil fuels”, here in one place that’s easy to reference or browse through.

Forbes & Medium

The burst started on Election Day, when he urged readers of his blog to vote for fossil fuels. Two days later on November 6th, he wrote another Forbes post explaining why Shell’s “footstep-powered” soccer field will never work, and exposing the accompanying ad campaign for what it is: An attempt to disingenuously position itself as a non-fossil fuel company.

The following week, he wrote an article explaining how (“Artists Against Fracking” member) Jimmy Fallon himself gave one of the best explanations ever of why solar and wind don’t work, when making fun of the idea of  “hazelnut energy” on Saturday Night Live. That same day, he published another article calling out “green energy” supporters on his Medium blog, which explained how Apple commits “energy accounting fraud” in order to claim that their data centers are “powered by 100 percent renewable energy sources”.

Cato, Heritage, Fox News, & More

101693078-480337035.530x298The day after the Forbes and Medium articles—November 13th, the release date of The Moral Case—two more articles were released, each centered on the data showing how fossil fuels have actually made our climate safer: “9 Graphs That Prove Using Fossil Fuels Hasn’t Harmed The Planet” via The Daily Caller, and “The One Statistic Climate Catastrophists Don’t Want You to Know” via the Cato Institute.

Three more were published the day after, making it seven in just three days. Fox News published an article generally explaining why increasing use of fossil fuels is the moral choice. The Heritage Foundation’s The Daily Signal published an article discussing the moral case against fossil fuels, and why it’s absurd, and on he explained why big oil and gas companies need to stop apologizing for their product.

The following week, the Washington Examiner published another article of Alex’s on making the moral case, and various local media outlets cross-posted an article on why it’s good that we generate so much of our electricity from fossil fuels.


In perhaps the most interesting piece of writing of all, however, Alex did a reddit AMA (lack of capitalization intentional). He answered dozens of questions relating to The Moral Case and his other workenough that showcasing them could be worthy of its own blog post—but here are just a few highlights.

reddit-alienOn why we should keep developing coal energy despite it’s “adverse public health impacts”:

I think a crucial point is that energy is a fundamental form of human opportunity—it’s our ability to use machines to improve our lives—so there’s no such thing as too much. That means if you are thinking about restrictions there is a very, very high bar. And I think with coal, fortunately we are getting very good at making it way cleaner/healthier, and in terms of ability to provide electricity to 3 billion people who have little/none, there’s nothing close. This article elaborates a bit on the economics. MCFF focuses a lot on coal since I think not just natural gas is moral but coal is moral—and I really dislike when the natural gas people dump on coal. In my view that’s giving the finger to three billion people.

On whether he has any concerns about the emissions that burning fossil fuels creates:

Absolutely. In particular the non-CO2 ones, which are demonstrably dangerous in high enough concentrations (though I don’t think the EPA’s no-threshold approach gets them right, at all). The main thing is to use technology to minimize them and, when making policy, consider the full context. It’s worth remembering that in the 1800s people were so grateful for coal, which was completely intolerable by our standards. So the thesis is not fossil fuels have no problems, the thesis is that if pursued properly the problems it solves far outweigh the problems it creates–and technology can keep making that better. And I should say, ultimately we want to come up with something totally better, which will be awhile but for which the number one priority is to stop demonizing nuclear, which IMO is the most exciting energy tech ever created.

On whether the fossil fuel industry “has worked to slow R&D and in some cases production for alternative fuel sources”:

You might expect me to say no but I will say “Yes”—but not in the way people think.

They haven’t slowed down solar and wind, they’ve (mis-)invested huge amounts in it.

But in the 1970s, the coal industry helped with a lot of the antinuclear propaganda. And in more modern times, Big Gas worked with Sierra Club to oppose coal-based energy. This stuff really disgusts me, which is why I was very happy to get the chance to debate Bruce Nilles, Senior Director of Sierra Club and head of Beyond Coal, at Stanford.

On (one of several) questions about being a “shill” for the oil industry:

If you want to accuse me of something, accuse me of being the mastermind, since people pay me to tell them what to say not to tell me what to say :-).

If you believe the case for fossil fuels (i.e. plentiful, reliable energy, i.e. your own life) is an important one, Alex is probably the best mastermind we could have. So please take a look at his writings above, as well as Chapter One of The Moral Case or Fossil Fuels if you haven’t yet, and consider picking up a copy for yourself, plus a few more for friends and relatives. And have a happy, fossil fueled holidays.

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