Alex Epstein’s most in-depth interview ever on the moral case for fossil fuels

22 Jul

From Alex Epstein, author of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels

Last Thursday I was interviewed by former Australian Senator Malcolm Roberts as part of a project by him to educate Australian politicians and members of the general public on energy and climate.

We ended up going 2 hours and 15 minutes. I think it’s my best and most comprehensive interview to date.

Here’s the very long list of topics we covered.

* Should Senator Roberts be proud to be a human being, and be proud to have worked in the coal industry?
* The vast improvement in human life and the role of fossil fuel “machine food” in that improvement
* How much the human environment has improved in the last 200 years
* How fossil fuels make it much easier to preserve the most desirable parts of nature
* How fossil fuels helped end slavery and servitude
* The three ways in which fossil fuels are crucial to medical science
* How fossil fuels make possible today’s amazing division of labor
* What going back to nature would be like in a world of 8 billion people
* The question our society should be obsessed with but isn’t
* The right way and wrong way to think about “changing the system”
* Why the view that we are in a climate crisis is a religious, not scientific, view
* Fossil fuels, opportunity, and happiness
* Human beings’ capacity for caring and how it is manipulated
* What actually leads to a better future for future generations
* How property rights are required for a proper relationship between human beings and the rest of nature
* The untold devastations of our anti-property rights policies such as the Endangered Species Act
* A thought experiment: how would we think of fossil fuels if they sucked CO2 out of the atmosphere
* Why people expect rising CO2 levels to be bad even though science tells us they will a) significantly increase plant growth and b) warm mostly the coldest parts of the world.
* The “anti-impact framework” underlying most of today’s energy and environmental thinking
* Why the moral case for fossil fuels does not depend on CO2 having a negligible impact
* Sea level rise as by far the most plausible threat of rising CO2 levels—and why even that is a weak threat
* The disingenuousness of “climate justice”
* The four major types of energy
* Why it’s wrong to compare the prices of reliable and unreliable energy
* How “unreliables” don’t replace the costs of reliables, they add to the costs * How “unreliables” cannot make themselves but depend on fossil fuels for their existence
* 100% renewable plans as “equal parts ignorant and genocidal”
* Why the anti-fossil fuel movement is anti-nuclear
* Why electricity prices in the US have gone up despite cheaper natural gas and coal prices
* How the anti-impact movement stopped the trend of declining energy prices
* The motives of the anti-impact movement
* The role of envy
* “The anti-impact framework”
* How anti-impact, anti-human moral ideas attract power-lusters
* The human flourishing framework
* Why hydrocarbon companies don’t stand up to the anti-fossil fuel movement
* The difference between executives’ and politicians’ public views on climate and their private views on climate
* When are we obligated to speak the unpopular truth?
* The power of one courageous voice
* Why I focus on spreading the good news about climate livability
* My relationship to the fossil fuel industry
* Are we going to run out of fossil fuels?
* Why having “good intentions” must include the intention to understand the relevant facts
* How I approach thinking about moral issues
* Why we can never have faith that the intellectual elite of a given era is right
* The lessons of deadly anti-DDT policies
* How understanding energy and environment from a pro-human perspective will make us enjoy life more

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