Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Wall Street Journal Reviews Epstein's 'The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels'

The Wall Street Journal has published a review of Alex Epstein’s The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, a much-needed defense of the vital resources coal, oil, and natural gas. Philip Delves Broughton writes:

If you drive a car, or use modern medicine, or believe in man’s right to economic progress, then according to Alex Epstein you should be grateful—more than grateful. In “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels” the author, an energy advocate and founder of a for-profit think tank called the Center for Industrial Progress, suggests that if all you had to rely on were the good intentions of environmentalists, you would be soon plunged back into a pre-industrial hell. Life expectancy would plummet, climate-related deaths would soar, and the only way that Timberland and Whole Foods could ship their environmentally friendly clothing and food would be by mule. “Being forced to rely on solar, wind, and biofuels would be a horror beyond anything we can imagine,” writes Mr. Epstein, “as a civilization that runs on cheap, plentiful, reliable energy would see its machines dead, its productivity destroyed, its resources disappearing.”

When you consider that most of us live what we would consider decent, moral lives, it seems extraordinary that anyone feels it necessary to write a book called “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels.” We use fossil fuels and their by-products in everything we do and rarely consider it a vice. A pang of conscience may strike us when we read of oil spills or melting icebergs. But not when we are sitting on a plastic chair, visiting a power-guzzling hospital or turning on our computers. To call fossil fuels “immoral” is to tarnish our entire civilization and should plunge us all into a permanent state of guilt, which seems a bit strong.

Yet, as Mr. Epstein notes, this is precisely what so many vocal environmentalists do.

This is a really important review. In an e-mail to subscribers, Epstein, who heads The Center for Industrial Progress, wrote that “the WSJ review is uniquely important as it marks the most significant mainstream mention of a moral case for fossil fuels.” He notes that after the WSJ review, “Amazon’s ranking of The Moral Case shot up over 5000 spots in one day.” You can read the whole review here. The first chapter of the book is available for free here.

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