Recently, I (Alex) asked some friends and colleagues from outside the fossil fuel industry to take a look at some of the advertising campaigns of the fossil fuel industry. In particular, I was interested in what they thought of the effectiveness of one popular approach: just focusing on the positives of fossil fuels to people’s lives without significantly engaging the alleged negatives–especially catastrophic climate change.
The best response I got was from my assistant, Nikki Norris. I thought it contains a lot of great lessons so I asked her to share it with readers of this newsletter.
“I Once Believed Fossil Fuels Were Killing Our Planet”
By: Nikki Norris
Before I started working with CIP, I believed fossil fuels were killing our planet. Far from an environmentalist, I was just plain ignorant. I’d never taken any particular interest in energy or environmental issues, and, like most people, I had fallen victim to the catastrophic climate change narrative. I thought the science was settled and our hand was forced; we could either stop using fossil fuels, or destroy our planet.
I didn’t fully realize (and didn’t really care) that CIP was on the “other side” of the fossil fuel debate, but it wasn’t long before I grew curious. I was motivated to read The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels partly out of curiosity, and partly because I wanted a better understanding of CIP’s business. As I read it, there were two key things that changed my mind (opened my mind, really):
- Fossil fuels are not actually killing the planet.
- Fossil fuels have done (and are doing) an incredible amount to better human life.
I’d guess that most lay people reading The Moral Case have these same two epiphanies. I’d also guess that the pro-fossil fuel advocate and/or industry professional has forgotten that. Speaking as someone who has firmly crossed over to the “other side,” I can attest to how easy it is to lose sight of what exactly dismantles the anti-fossil fuel position. Before we can convince someone that fossil fuels better human life, we have to unravel the image of fossil fuels as the gun delivering the fatal shot to the planet.
As the greens will tell you, “we only get one planet.” All the talk about fossil fuels being good for human life went in one ear and out the other so long as I believed that fossil fuels would lead to the imminent destruction of our planet. Only after I realized that this was not the reality of the situation was I open to considering the positive aspects of fossil fuels. From there, it was a no-brainer.
As Alex’s assistant, I have the privilege of reading a wide range of your stories, ideas, and pro-fossil fuel initiatives. Your efforts are inspiring and impressive, but I’ve noticed one disturbing trend: the catastrophic narrative often goes unaddressed. Whether you’re designing an employee training program, building an advocacy website for the general public, giving a presentation to a community group, or discussing fossil fuels with a friend, don’t shy away from exposing the myth that fossil fuels are causing catastrophic climate change! While this position may be unpopular, it is the foundation to changing (and opening) minds. Most importantly, it is the truth.
Part of our mission is to arm you with the facts and skills necessary to influence your audience. Below is a list of recommended resources, but if there’s something you think would be more helpful, please let us know. Many of our most popular resources were inspired by your feedback, so don’t be shy!
- Read and master the facts in The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels. For a stellar cheat sheet, download this 2-page summary. For a digital version of the graphs and charts found within the book, visit our data page.
- If you need help learning to talk about fossil fuels, climate change, or other controversial topics, Alex created this e-course for this exact purpose.
- Running into the “settled science” argument? Master the facts that dismantle the ‘97% of climate scientists agree’ statement with Alex’s PragerU video and his most popular Forbes article on this subject.
- For factual articles on all sorts of energy-related topics, browse Alex’s Forbes column.
- Dig into the archives of our podcast, Power Hour, for over 150 hours of interviews with top energy experts.