Reading a book with as many charts and graphs as this one had shouldn’t have been so much fun, but it really was. This month’s selection for the book-of-the-month is The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels by Alex Epstein. This book was a blast.
Some of the points made here are commonplaces for conservatives—e.g. the environmentalist false predictions, consistently running at Hal Lindsey levels. But it is one thing to show liberal inconsistencies, and quite another to make a moral case for fossil fuels. Epstein does this quite well.
One of the best things is does is show how different assessments of energy sources arise from completely different standards of value. Epstein is not a Christian, and his standard is therefore necessarily humanistic, but it still contrasts sharply with what amounts to the pantheistic standard of the environmentalists. He writing from a perspective that evaluates energy sources by whether or not they contribute to human flourishing. This is consistent with the biblical ethic, but it requires the biblical ethic in order to make it consistent. The environmentalist ethic is inconsistent with the biblical regardless what you do. By this I do not mean to say that environmental stewardship is inconsistent—no, stewardship is assumed and required in the biblical worldview.
The environmentalist standard is to minimize or erase the impact of human beings on the planet. It is not a matter of good impact versus bad impact, but rather impact verses no impact. Put this another way. Epstein effectively shows that if some genius figured out a way to make one of the alternative energy sources into an energy producing gusher, the environmentalists would be appalled—and solar, or wind, or whatever it was, would become the new enemy. The actual specter in this is the prospect of fusion. Cheap, reliable, available energy for everyone would be the environmentalists’ worst nightmare. Here is one representative quote: “It would be little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy, because of what we might do with it” (p. 196). Somebody might enjoy themselves. Somebody might go to bed warm tonight.
And this is the bottom line for Christians. The Scriptures promise us that the world is going to end as a glorious Garden City, and what does that mean? It means a lot of CO2, that’s what it means. And in the meantime, what are we supposed to do for those billions of people who do not have the necessities of life because they are not in possession of cheap, reliable energy?
“And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” (Jas. 2:16).
How are billions of people, currently ensconced on this planet, to be warmed and filled? This is not a trick question, and there is only one answer—energy.
So our faith is worthless if we deny them cheap, reliable, plentiful, and abundant energy. If someone proposes getting such energy to them, and we protest it, are we not the worst? If we send emissaries to hector third world countries about their inept attempts to be as warm and as filled as we are, are we not madmen and hypocrites?
If this resonates with you, as it should, but you need data and arguments to support that initial reaction, this book is for you.