Energy powers Everything

by Dr. Ed Berry

Philosophy teaches us how to look at the big picture. I am a physicist with training in the philosophy of science.

Scientists like me understand why climate alarmist claims are invalid. We know why we need abundant, low-cost energy. We know why government subsidies for so-called “clean” energy harm our economy.

Not all scientists understand the philosophy of science and the scientific method. Scientists who do not, become climate alarmists.

Philosopher Alex Epstein, Center for Industrial Progress, has produced remarkable presentations. Here he tells a Senate committee how low-cost energy supports our economy, healthcare, business, national defense, and our freedom.

By the way, Senator Boxer simply does not get it. Her remarks in this video are irrational.


The energy industry is the industry that powers every other industry. To the extent energy is affordable, plentiful and reliable, human beings thrive. To the extent energy is unaffordable, scarce or unreliable, human beings suffer.

And yet in this election year, the candidates, especially the Republican candidates, have barely discussed energy. Thus, I am grateful for the opportunity to discuss my moral evaluation of this administration’s energy policies.

When we evaluate energy policies, such as President Obama’s efforts to forciblyrestrict fossil fuel use and mandate solar and wind energy, it is always worth asking: Has this been tried before? And what happened when it was?

The answer is much, much milder versions of the President’s energy policy have been tried in Europe—and resulted in skyrocketing energy prices every time.

unnecessary and enormous cost to the system. As a result, the average German pays 3-4 times more for electricity than the average American. It’s so bad that Germans have had to add a new term to the language: “energy poverty.”

The United States should learn from the failed German experiment; instead, our President is doubling down on it many times over. And, just as ominously, he isleading global initiatives that call for even the poorest countries to be forced to use unreliables instead of reliables. This, in a world where 3 billion people have almost no access to energy and over one billion people have no electricity.

How could this possibly be moral?

The alleged justification is that fossil fuels cause climate change and should therefore be eliminated. But this does not follow. As with anything in life, with fossil fuel’s impacts we need to look at the big picture, carefully weighing both the benefits and the costs.

And to do that, we need to clearly define what we mean by “climate change.” Because while nearly everyone agrees that more CO2 in the atmosphere causes some climate change, it makes all the difference in the world whether that change is a mild, manageable warming or a runaway, catastrophic warming.

Which is it? If we look at what has been scientifically demonstrated vs. what has been speculated, the climate impact of CO2 is mild and manageable. In the last 80 years, we have increased the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere from .03% to .04%, and the warming has been barely more than the natural warming that occurred in the 80 years before that, when there were virtually no CO2 emissions. From a geological perspective, both CO2 levels and temperatures are very low; there is no perfect amount of CO2 or average temperature, although higher CO2 levels do create more plant growth and higher temperatures lower mortality rates.

To be sure, many prominent scientists and organizations predict catastrophe–but this is wild speculation and nothing new. Indeed, many of today’s thought leaders have been falsely predicting catastrophe for decades. Thirty years ago, NASA climate leader James Hansen predicted that temperatures would rise by 2-4 degrees between 2000 and 2010; instead, depending on which temperature data set you consult, they rose only slightly or not at all.

Thirty years ago, President Obama’s top science advisor, John Holdren, predicted that by now we’d be approaching a billion CO2-related deaths from famine. Instead, famine has plummeted as have climate-related deaths across the board. According to data from the International Disaster Database, deaths from climate-related causes such as extreme heat, extreme cold, storms, drought and floods have decreased at a rate of 50% since the 1980s and 98% since major CO2 emissions began 80 years ago.

How is it possible that we’re safer than ever from climate?

Because while fossil fuel use has only a mild warming impact it has an enormous protecting impact. Nature doesn’t give us a stable, safe climate that we make dangerous. It gives us an ever-changing, dangerous climate that we need to make safe. And the driver behind sturdy buildings, affordable heating and air-conditioning, drought relief, and everything else that keeps us safe from climate is cheap, plentiful, reliable energy, overwhelmingly from fossil fuels.

Thus, the President’s anti-fossil fuel policies would ruin billions of lives economically and environmentally–depriving people of energy and therefore making them more vulnerable to nature’s ever-present climate danger.

Policies that cause massive, unnecessary human suffering, including increased climate vulnerability, are immoral.

A moral energy policy is one that liberates all the energy technologies, including fossil fuels, nuclear, and large-scale hydro, and lets them compete to the utmost to provide the most affordable, reliable energy for the most people.

A moral energy policy is an energy freedom policy.

Alex Epstein is founder of the Center for Industrial Progress and author of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels. Click here to contact him.

1 thought on “Energy powers Everything”

  1. Frederick Colbourne

    Some economists also understand the big picture because they have studied economic history, including the industrial revolution. They know how short and brutal life was before the industrial revolution and still is in those countries and regions whose economies have no means to harness sources of energy, such as hydropower and where hydro is unavailable, fossil fuels.

    However, many economists are ignorant of both history and physical science, not having studied Hubert Lamb's research that showed how warm periods in the past were associated with prosperity and cold periods with misery and collapse of civilizations.

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