Thoughts on the Oil Price Crash and the ESG Chess Game

In this issue:

  • Thoughts on the oil price crash and the ESG chess game
  • New climate video nears 350K views 
  • Two crucial facts about CO2
  • The Human Flourishing Project: An invitation to Thoughtful

Thoughts on the oil price crash and the ESG chess game

This weeks marks the return of my podcast, Power Hour (listen on YouTubeiTunes). 

In the first segment I share some thoughts about the recent oil price crash that is heavily affecting many readers of this newsletter. I’m thinking of all of you and I hope you find my thoughts helpful during this difficult time. 

In the second segment I am joined by Don Watkins to discuss “The ESG Chess Game.” 

Last week I shared a preview of a mini-whitepaper Don and I wrote, “The ESG Dilemma and the Full-Impact Messaging Solution.” (If you’d like a copy, I’m making it available to those who are actively dealing with ESG issues. Just reply to this email with subject White Paper.) 

One executive wrote back to me calling ESG a “chess game” that executives and boards of directors need to understand and “think through many moves ahead.” 

I thought this was a great point so I decided to spent most of this week’s show breaking down the chess game: what ESG really is (vs. what people think it is), who is behind it, what their goal is, what their strategy is, and how companies can protect themselves. 

You can listen to the segment here or read an unedited transcript here.

New climate video nears 350K views

I was asked to participate in a panel of “climate change skeptics” on the popular YouTube channel Jubilee. I thought they did a fair job representing the viewpoints there, though I wish they had invited more specialists on the topic. 

One promising phenomenon I noticed during the taping (and in the video) was that many of the other participants adopted my pro-human perspective on the issue. 

While many of the comments on the video are negative, there are some good pro-human responses such as these:

Comment 1: these people are not “pro human” they are pro humans with money, pro humans that live in a country that has clean water, pro fortunate humans … they are pro america.

Pro-human response: There’s nothing wrong with being pro human. Do you really think that animals, let’s say a tiger is pro human. No it will attack you if your in it’s habitat. At the end of the day we are animals and we need to look out for our species.

Comment 2: Alex* claims that our generation has the best growing environment

literally, the past generation had things much easier, less pricey college fees, cheaper houses pretty much everything

Pro-human response: We do have the best environment today, globally and locally. 

Also, yes college is more expensive because of government subsided student loan and housing is more expensive in some places because of the Fed and local zoning laws and restriction of building but almost all the greens support those policies as well. This is just an example of the collapse of the mixed economy. 

That being said, you can’t tell me you would choose to go back to the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s instead of being alive today.

Comment 3: “I care about the environment”

Fosil fuel advocate: “Nope”.

* Pretends to be shocked *

Pro-human response: He cares about the environment for human beings. If you care about untouched nature, then you are anti-human, since human being survive by changing their environments. Also, nature made us that way.

Comment 4: So caring about nature is anti human now I don’t see how that works we don’t need to destroy ecosystems for humans to survive.

Pro-human response: Holding untouched nature as some kind of intrinsic value is anti-human. Human beings survive by changing their environment. If you view changing the environment as a bad thing, then human nature as such is a bad thing. Therefore, anti-human.

The video came out last week and has already been viewed over 334,000 times. You can watch it here.

Two crucial facts about CO2

During a recent speech to the industry I was asked, “How do you answer the claim that rising CO2 levels from fossil fuel use will cause a climate catastrophe and render the planet unlivable?” Here’s a (lightly edited) transcript of my answer:

Here are two crucial facts to keep in mind about CO2 emissions. 

Fact one is that we have been increasing the level of CO2 in the atmosphere for the past 170 years, and the climate has become 50 times safer. That’s because we can use low-cost energy and technology to protect ourselves from climate.

Whatever warming has occurred is insignificant compared to the benefits of fossil fuels, including the climate protection benefits. 

As an example, take a child in India having to cope with a 120 degree day. It’s warmed about two degrees Fahrenheit in the last 70 years or so, and basically what the catastrophists are saying is that their solution is to stop using fossil fuels so it will be 118 degrees. My solution is to get the kid a damn air conditioner. 

We live in an unnaturally livable climate, but only because of low-cost, reliable energy. Which means the catastrophists are actually making the climate unlivable because the climate is always unlivable without low-cost, reliable energy. 

You can’t claim to care about climate and significantly increase the cost of energy.

What you can do is say: “We support win/win emissions reduction policies: we support reducing emissions when it also reduces the cost of energy. That’s why we support liberating natural gas and decriminalizing nuclear power. Why don’t you? Why are you against the things that actually lower emissions and improve human life?” That’s a powerful position. 

The objection to this is that things are going to get worse in the future–that they’ll somehow become so bad it will overwhelm our ability to master climate. 

And so the second fact to keep in mind about CO2 emissions is that CO2’s warming impact is a decelerating effect. 

People think every new molecule of CO2 warms more than the last, and that you’ll have this rapid, out of control warming as we continue adding CO2 to the atmosphere. But what physics shows is the opposite: every new molecule of CO2 warms less than the last, and so warming will stabilize over time. The more you add, the less the warming from each additional unit will be. 

I believe that we’ll have more warming in the future, but we’re not going to have catastrophic warming. And as long as we have the low-cost, reliable energy to cope with climate, we’re totally fine, regardless of whether the average temperature is two degrees warmer. 

But if we don’t have low-cost, reliable energy, any climate is unlivable.